Dragon’s Back Race 2023 Preview

Dragon’s Back Race 2023 Preview

The Dragon’s Back Race 2023 is almost here! The 2023 edition of the ‘UK’s Toughest Race starts on the 4th of September, and SCARPA are proud to be a supporting partner.

Read on for our preview of the Dragon’s Back Race 2023:

About the Dragon’s Back Race

6 Days, 380km & 17,400m of ascent – no wonder it is known as the toughest mountain race in the world!

Stretching right through the spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the North to Cardiff Castle in the South the Dragon’s Back is an epic race – not for the feint hearted.

With daily ascents of up to 3800m and tough mountainous terrain this is not just a trail race. The route is unmarked with Dragon’s (the name for those who enter this race) following GPS and maps to reach summit checkpoints.

Team SCARPA at the Dragon’s Back Race 2023

Scarpa Athlete Simon Roberts won the 2021 Dragon’s Back Race, here is Simon’s advice for running the race.

“You can’t neglect having good experience of general mountain craft, you need to be able to move fast over rough and challenging terrain.

You also need to be able to cope in all conditions whether it being hot, cold or wet, these are things you need to be prepared for before you turn up to the Dragon’s Back Race.”

Three of our SCARPA UK athlete’s are running this year’s race, so we caught up with them to see how they are feeling pre-Dragon’s Back Race 2023

Jon Shield

I’m excited to take on what is seen as the World’s toughest Mountain Race. The statistics are insane, roughly 236 miles and 17,400m of elevation over the 6 day stage race. 

I’m feeling nervous and excited. It’s a huge race. I missed out last year when I had Rhabdomyolosis so it’s been a long wait to get to the start line. 

Training has been pretty good. I have steadily built from being injured earlier in the year just prior to the Spine Challenger South but since then I’ve have had some good consistent training including my recent race in Kyrgyzstan. I’ve hit some good numbers in training and I’ve been reccing the route covering probably 80% of it.

In terms of expectations, I want to win, I go with the mindset to win. However there’s a lot of external factors that can influence this with injury being a massive risk when you run this far over this type of terrain.

I’ve done all I can to mitigate that in training so I’m keeping my fingers crossed things go as smoothly as possible! 

I think I’m least looking forward to the Rhinogs. They are very slow going and hazardous and you can’t get any momentum. The best part would have to be finishing at Cardiff Castle, I can imagine the atmosphere would be amazing. 

Carmine de Grandis

I am feeling super excited and terrified in equal measure. I completed the Dragon’s Back race in 2019 (5 days version and in May). I had to dig deep, but the feeling of achievement when completing this incredible journey is still with me.

The race is harder now as it is longer and has more mountains within it. I look forward to day 5 which traverses the Brecon Beacons Mountains.

Whatever happens, I am really looking forward to the personal journey of discovery and athletic test of endurance the Dragon’s Back Race is. Can’t wait to start!

Training this year has been challenging. Since January, after an issue with my health stopped me from completing the Spine Race, I have been patiently rebuilding consistency, endurance and performance.

As well as training hard, I have been preparing the gear and routines which are so important to complete a multi-day event. I am still deciding which shoes to take with me – I have narrowed the choice down to three. The Scarpa Golden Gate Kima, The Scarpa Spin Planet and the Scarpa Kalibra ST… however, I think I will only have room for two! Which will I go for, is still in the balance!

My expectations are about achievement and community. I am keen to test myself to complete one of the hardest multi-day events in the UK. Meanwhile, I am bringing my accordion with me and hope to spread some cheer through music during the race and when I reach the overnight camps. #carmineaccordionrounds and #anaccordiononthemountains project in aid of Climbers Against Cancer will certainly motivate me to keep going.

I am most looking forward to crossing Crib Goch, the Rhinogs and the Brecon Beacons, cheering up other runners on camp with my accordion and spending time with the other Dragon’s slayers, especially Jon and Dougie from the Scarpa Team!

I am least looking forward to the cut-offs each day and accepting that my fitness is not as good as it should be. Possibly, the fact that the body will take a real beating over that week.

Dougie Zinis

With just under two weeks left to go and training out of the way the excitement is starting to build. I’m feeling good at the moment and cant wait to get out into the Welsh mountains.

The start of my Dragon training started 6 months ago. I like to build slowly and build a good base fitness, I have done the Fellsman and some big support days in the mountains (40+miles) and I had a crack at the Ramsey round (until the weather changed) and in the last 7 weeks maintained my distance and had some big weeks on the route thrown in too!

Just looking at the route on a map its plain to see what a challenge this will be. Mountain range after mountain range and all in the Wales, where trip hazards and slippy surfaces are common.

I expect the route to be rugged and rocky with quad burning climbs and descents! What’s not to like?!

I’m looking forward to the high rocky mountains, its where my happy place is!

If you missed out on this year’s event or this has inspired you to give it a go next year – the entries for the 2024 Dragon’s Back Race are now open. You can get more information and enter here: www.dragonsbackrace.com/enter-the-2024-event