With just a few weeks to go until the 2022 Montane Dragon’s Back Race, for those brave runners taking part, training preparation is coming to a dramatic climax. One racer who knows only too well about the challenge that awaits is, of course, last year’s winner, #TeamMontane’s Simon Roberts.
Welsh born Simon certainly knows a thing or two about what Welsh terrain feels like underfoot. Having slayed the dragon in style in 2021, he is returning again this year seeking more Dragon's Back glory. Since Simon’s win last year, he has gone on to conquer several other challenging ultras in the UK, including winning the Montane Cheviot Goat and Montane Spine Challenger North.
We caught up with the rising ultra runner to find out his tips and advice for taking on the Montane Dragon’s Back Race. Keep reading to hear from Simon...
The Montane Dragon’s Back Race is a long way! Each day is a very long way! You are racing back to back days so you need to get your pacing right. Going too hard is going to cost you at some point. The harder you run, the more damage you are causing to your muscles and things will get very painful later on in the week. This is especially true on the downhills as hitting the hills hard will cause damage to your quads which can cause exceptional pain. Pace it sensibly and help to keep your body happy.
The weather last year, well… we had it all! We started off the week in a mini heatwave in Snowdonia and things got hot, very hot. Come Friday, we then had downpours and strong winds in the Brecon Beacons. It's important to be prepared for all the weather, so make sure you pack the right kit. You want to keep cool with very lightweight and breathable shorts and T-Shirts. I personally like the Montane Dragon Shorts and the Montane Sabre tops. For keeping dry, you will also want a good reliable waterproof jacket and trousers. I will be packing my Montane Spine Jacket along with the Montane Podium Pants.
So by now you should already know what food you will be eating during the race. You should know what your body can and can't handle whilst running. Set your plan and stick to it! Make sure you're getting a constant flow of food in you. It won't only get you to the end of the day, but will also help you for the days ahead. Try to be very strict when it comes to eating and even force it down when you reach the hard times and don't feel like eating. Your body will recover better if you stick to your eating plan!
When you're not racing, you're camping! So you need to get a bulletproof camp admin plan together. What are you first going to do when you get into camp? Eat? Unpack? Set up your sleeping kit? When are you going to carry out some essential (trust me) foot care? There is quite a lot going on in camp so you need to get a plan together. Having a good admin plan will ultimately enable you to have more time for eating and sleeping.
What to Pack
Although you may want to take every comfort with you, you simply can't! This is because there is a 15kg weight limit on your overnight dry bags. I remember a lot of people going over this weight limit. You need to be ruthless with your packing, especially if you're tipping the scale. My tip is, if you're branding an item with a ‘What if?’, then don't pack it. Initially just pack what you actually need and cannot live without. If you have some weight left over, then you can pack the teddy bear…
Last year, on both day 1 and day 2, Snowdonia was hit with a mini heatwave. This sadly ended the race for a lot of the participants. The main tool to survive the hot weather is hydration. You need to make sure you are drinking a lot of liquid and also getting a good intake of salts. Beware, there are parts of the course which are pretty dry, so no good water sources to rely on at times. Make sure to use all your bottles, stock up well at the support tents and any water points you encounter.
Can’t wait for the Montane Dragon’s Back Race?
For more inspiration, don’t miss our dedicated story behind to learn about the race’s origins. You can also see the route come to life in our Crash Course video. For more race insights, take a look at our Dragon’s Back Race event hub.