Galen Reynolds and Lisa Watson win 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s back Race
Galen Reynolds and Lisa Watson secured commanding victories in the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race.
They both set out on the final day of the event in first place in the men’s and women’s races respectively.
Today, they extended their leads during the concluding 63km leg that took runners into the Brecon Beacons and 2,200m of climbing, including the summit of Fan Brycheiniog and Carreg Yr Ogof on the Black Mountain.
Galen set a new record for the race, with his five-day aggregate time of 37 hours, 48 minutes and 6 seconds beating the previous best by just over 10 minutes.
Galen, who led from day one, said: “That was very painful because I ran hard today. But apart from all the pain it feels really good to win.”
Lisa’s time of 44:33:23 was the third fastest time by a woman in the race’s history. She was more than two hours ahead of the runner up Sabrina Verjee and ninth overall.
Lisa said: “I have absolutely, absolutely loved it. It has been the best week ever. I am really happy to win. I just can’t quite believe it yet.”
The final day of the Dragon’s Back Race
Of the 402 original starters, 256 runners were still in the full race at the start of the final day of the gruelling mountain running race.
Staged only four times before, in 1992, 2012, 2015 and 2017, the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race has acquired near mythical status in the adventure racing and ultra-running community.
The latest edition of the race began in Conwy Castle on Monday and followed a route of 315km with 15,500m of climbing (almost twice the height of Everest), south along the spine of Wales.
Men slay the dragon
The race switched to a chasing start for the leaders on the final day of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race. This meant that second placed British runner Jim Mann started some 43 minutes behind Galen and spent the 63km trying to play catch up.
In the end, he came home some 14 minutes slower than Galen and 55 minutes behind overall to take second place. Despite saying he was not feeling fit for the race, Jim ran a Dragon’s Back Race personal best of 38:43:38.
He has taken part in four Dragon Back races. He was sixth in 2012, won in in 2015 in a time of 40:08:03 and he was also runner up in 2017 in 39:38:14.
Jim said: “It has been a good race and it was a great journey; it always is. Galen is a very strong athlete and a worthy winner.”
On days 3 and 4, Galen and Jim had run from start to finish together. Jim said: “We had a good back and forth run on Tuesday and then on Wednesday and Thursday we ran together.”
“I really enjoyed running with Galen. He is good company and a really nice bloke. Then, today, the chasing start meant we had to chase each other.”
Robert Barnes ran the third fastest time today and also took third place overall finishing almost an hour after Jim in 39:42:38.
The British athlete said: “It has been a very enjoyable race. I am surprised by how well I have done and I am very happy with my times, especially on the more mountainous days at the start.”
Polish athlete Konrad Rawlik, the husband of Jasmin Paris who was the winning female in the Dragon’s Back Race in 2015, was fourth in 40:03:57. He ran the fastest time today of 6:45:14, some 21 seconds ahead of Galen.
Women slay the Dragon
The chasing start on the final day of the Dragon’s Back Race meant that Lisa Watson started just a minute ahead of Brit Sabrina Verjee. Although she confessed to severe race nerves, Lisa turned the tiny gap into two hours and 10 minutes.
She said: “It was so stressful at the start and I felt sick but then I got into my stride and loved it. I pushed hard to see what I could do and I am very pleased with the result.”
Sabrina, competing in the event for the third time, had led the 2019 race until the penultimate day. A strong first three days of running meant she secured a second place overall in 46:44:59.
She said: “Today I knew I was going to be slow because I felt so tired. Lisa really had nothing to fear even with just a minute separating us at the start of the day.”
“I feel like I have run well in this race. I had four very strong days, when I smashed my previous times, but I goosed myself for today. Day five has become my nemesis.”
“Lisa is a strong runner and she has done very well to win.”
Third female place was Kerstin Rosenqvist, of Sweden, in 49:16:46. She was sixth female in 2015 in a time of 54:10:50.
Kerstin said: “I enjoyed the whole race and there were lots of highs with only a short low on Thursday morning.”
“It is a wonderful place to run and so beautiful. The weather has meant we have had great views all week. I have really enjoyed myself.”
In fourth place was Welsh runner Lowri Morgan, who finished in an overall time of 51:20:52.
Delighted with the race, she said: “They say there are two rules in ultra running, to get to the start line and to get to the finish line.”
“I really didn’t think I would get to the start line and the only reason I got to the finish line was because of the people in the race and the organisation.”
“It has been a truly unforgettable experience.”
For final results and other news from the race see www.berghausdragonsbackrace.com.