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Dragon’s Back Race gets longer and tougher

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Dragon’s Back Race gets longer and tougher with an extra sixth day added and Cardiff Castle finish.

  • Event distance increases from 315km to 380km and total ascent rises from 15,500m to 17,400m
  • Day five extended to traverse the Brecon Beacons
  • Race will have spectacular castle start and finish, in Conwy and Cardiff
Dragon’s Back Race

The world’s toughest mountain race

Organisers of the legendary Dragon’s Back Race® have announced an extra day to the 2021 edition of the race. Described as the world’s toughest mountain race, the next Dragon’s Back Race® will be extended to six days. This increases the distance covered from 315km to 380km, and height climbed from 15,500m to 17,400m. As usual, the event will start at Conwy Castle, but in 2021, competitors will complete a longer journey than before. Now, along the whole spine of Wales, and traversing the Brecon Beacons to finish in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. 

Dragon’s Back Race

Staged only five times, the Dragon’s Back Race® has acquired near mythical status in the adventure racing and running community. The event was first held in 1992 and then resurrected in 2012, since then entries have increased at each edition. Growing steadily in 2015 and 2017, and almost doubling to over 400 in 2019, reflecting the booming interest in ultra-running. In 2019, Canadian Galen Reynolds won the men’s race in a record time, Brit Lisa Watson won the women’s race. 

Dragon’s Back Race

An extra day

The Dragon’s Back Race® is regarded as the toughest mountain race on the planet. Only around half of those who have started the event have managed to complete the full course and earn a much-coveted dragon trophy. At each race, the field of competitors has included some of the best ultra-runners from around the world, along with many others whose ambition is simply to finish each day of the course within the time allowed.

Dragon’s Back Race

The addition of an extra day, makes the task of completing the full Dragon’s Back Race® even more challenging. It offers every participant the opportunity to experience the complete journey down the mountainous spine of Wales.

Dragon’s Back Race

Race director Shane Ohly explains: “When I resurrected the Dragon’s Back Race in 2012, I considered extending the route further south. Due to the complexity of the event and my relative inexperience as a race organiser at the time, I chose a more cautious approach and opted for the five-day format and a route that was similar to the original 1992 event. I have reflected on that decision and feel that now is the right time to make a decisive change. I want the Dragon’s Back Race to achieve its full potential in the years ahead. The full journey down the spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the north to Cardiff Castle in the south will be realised at last.”

Cardiff Castle finish line

The new finish at Cardiff Castle will deliver a spectacular finale to the 2021 Dragon’s Back Race® for competitors and spectators. The venue will host the final overnight camp after day six, including a special post-race dinner. In addition, the presentation of ‘Dragon’ trophies, during which the runners and over 100 volunteers will celebrate together. 

Dragon’s Back Race

The majority of the work to update the course was completed in 2019. The extensive reconnoitring of the finishing options to extend the race south, and how they link with the established course. The COVID-19 outbreak interrupted that work, but the key route planning has been completed successfully. 

Shane Ohly adds: “After careful consideration of the options, we felt that finishing at Cardiff Castle was by far the best choice. Day five will now be a monstrous 70km, including an extended traverse of the Brecon Beacons. The new route truly embraces the ethos of the event by continuing the journey along the spine of Wales’ most southerly peaks. Day six initially continues this theme, before linking together brilliant tracks and trails that speed participants south and straight into Cardiff Castle, for a spectacular and fitting finish in the capital of Wales.”Full details of the new route and the finish arrangements will be unveiled later in 2020. Entries for the 2021 Dragon’s Back Race® will open at 10:00am BST on Tuesday 1 September.

For the latest news about the event, visit

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In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more

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