Video of Dragon’s Back Day 4 Recce Run

I’ve put a video together of my recce of Day 4 on the Dragon’s Back Course.

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 14

The highlight of this week was my final recce runs on the Dragon’s Back Course. Andy, Mark and I covered day 4 over Friday and Saturday.

Monday 8th April – Run to and from work

  • 4.16 miles in 38:08
  • Ascent – 187ft
  • 4.15 miles in 35:52
  • Ascent – 308ft

We had some of our family staying with us for a few days so I didn’t want to miss seeing them by going to my normal Fartlek session in the evening.

So instead I decided to run to and from work which gave me 8 miles or so. I ran with a rucksack which definitely affects the way you run.

Tuesday 9th April – Cycle to and from work

  • 8.0 miles over two rides

I do enjoy cycling as an opportunity to do some exercise on a non running day.

Wednesday 10th April – Lunchtime Run

  • 6.80 in 1:05:01
  • Ascent – 571ft

It was lovely to set off with clear blue sky. It was a little chilly as I started but I soon warmed up and it was great to feel the sun shining as I finished my run.

I have a day off tomorrow before my recce of Day 4 over Friday and Saturday. We are driving down to mid Wales tomorrow.

Friday 12th April – Dragon’s Back Day 4 part 1 Recce Run

  • 20.99 miles 6:59:38
  • Ascent – 4,035ft

Katrina and I drove down to Llandrindod Wells where we stayed with our friends. In the morning Mark, who I’d not met before, picked me up at 8.30am and we drove to the start of Day 4 where we met Andy who had driven down from Chester.

It was a chilly but clear morning as we set off to run to Elan Village which is the half way point of Day 4.

I was really looking forward to covering day 4 over two days as that would complete my recce of the whole course. I was also interested to see how my hill fitness was after the training I’ve done since my last recce in February.

We had a great day chatting the whole way round. Mark attempted the race in 2017 but sadly was timed out on Day 3 so he is back more determined than ever to slay the Dragon!

Mark is very much a map and compass guy whereas I’m more happy to use my gpx trace on my watch as well as the map. So it was really good to see the way Mark navigated especially looking at the details around him and matching it to the map. I learnt a lot.

The navigation was fairly straight forward though we did miss a couple of key turns and had to work out which way to go.

I was pleasantly surprised that the terrain was a lot easier than I was expecting. There are lots of good paths which, if I’m still able to run on Day 4, are runnable!

It always helps when the weather is clear and you can see the way ahead. There wasn’t as much climbing as Days 1-2 but still plenty of ups and downs.

One of the other things I like about running with others is the little gems of advice you can pick up along the way. Both Andy and Mark have been involved in the race and so have experience of what camp life is like so I was gaining as much help as I could.

I took lots of video clips of the route so I’ll be putting that together in the next few days but here are some photos to give you an idea of our day.

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When we reached the final checkpoint before Elan Village Mark was keen to try a more direct line but we wanted a bit too far left and ended up having to cross marshy ground. I’m not sure I’ll go that way in the race but Mark still thinks he’ll get it right and save some time.

We finished at Elan Village where Katrina picked us up having spent the day with her Dad. Katrina have a bit of trouble finding the village as the postcode I gave her took her to a car park miles away but that’s another story!

Saturday 13th April – Dragon’s Back Day 4 part 2 Recce Run

  • 23.02 in 6:48:48
  • Ascent – 3727ft

In the morning we drove back to Elan Village. Katrina headed off to visit her Dad again and the three of us set off to complete Day 4.

I was really encouraged that my legs and feet felt good after yesterday and I was looking forward to the day.

Mark had another of his alternative routes out of Elan Village which cut out the switchback on the road. This one worked out better so I might well use this one!

The weather was stunning again with clear blue skies but it was quite chilly so I had my light gloves on all day.

The route climbs up, down then up again but the views were among my favourites of the whole route. The trees around the reservoir were amazing.

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The leg from CP7 to the CP8 Trig Point on Drygarn Fawr (Big Dragon) was over 8 miles so I decided to have a mini-split half way.

The climb up from the reservoir started on a good jeep track and on the 2017 map the recommended route carried stayed on that track longer before turning right along the ridge to the top.

The 2019 recommended route basically cuts out the corner and takes a more direct line. We found the start of the path fine and made our way up but once we got to the top I decided I knew the way and headed off … 90 degrees to the way we should have gone!

I realised my mistake in the end and we joined back together to head to the top of the hill.  The tremendous views were well worth the climb.

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On the way down to the forest Mark & I were chatting and we took a path to the left so had to back track a bit to get on line and it took us a few attempts to find the correct path through the forest but we got there eventually! Always better to make these mistakes in a recce rather than the race!IMG_5078

There is a lot of road in the final 10 miles but again that’s good to know so I’m ready for it on race day. It was great to reach the campsite of Day 4 and know that I have now completed the whole route. All I need to do now is put it all together over 5 days!!

Katrina had another adventure with the sat nav which gave us time to have a drink before she found us.

So another superb weekend in Wales on the Dragon’s Back course!

Summary of the week

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Photo of the week

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LOVEultras 047 Dragon’s Back 6 weeks to go

My latest vlog with 6 weeks to go to the Dragon’s Back is all about what I’m planning to put in my overnight drop bag.

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 13

I have decided to alternate harder weeks with a medium week in this final block of training leading up to the Dragon’s Back. The main difference is going to be the longer run at the weekend. This week I did my Braes run rather than a longer Munros run.

I really want to make sure I’m not over doing the training as arriving at the start line ready to go is the aim rather than arriving feeling tired after too many long training runs.

Monday 1st April – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.06 miles in 1:06:44
  • Ascent – 286ft

There weren’t so many of us this week probably due to the school holidays. The weather wasn’t very kind with wind and rain. The session this week was 6 x 5mins. Donald who leads the sessions set us off from the same point each time which meant that once we had done the first one we had something to aim for each time.

For the first three I finished just short of a particular post and the last three I got past the post so I ran further on the second three which was encouraging.  Here are my stats for the session.

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Tuesday 2nd April – Cycle to and from work

  • 8.10 miles

This week I have a Holiday Sports Club at the secondary school I work with so I decided to cycle to and from the school on Tuesday and Friday.

Wednesday 3rd April – Lunchtime Run at Pollok Park

  • 6.68 miles in 1:02:13
  • Ascent – 502ft

The school is slightly further from Pollok Park from where I normally work but I can run on grass most of the way there and back and a shorter loop around the park. Last week the ground was dry and I covered the ground quicker than normal but this week it felt like winter again and it was very muddy and a lot harder going!

Thursday 4th April – Conic Hill Run

  • 10.49 miles in 2:07:12
  • Ascent – 2183ft

My original plan was to run Ben Lomond but my friend Cammie had been up on Wednesday night and he said that there was a lot of snow on the top which made the descent very slow. I didn’t really fancy it especially as I was on my own.

So I decided to drive to the car park at the Garadhban Forest and run from there to Balmaha and back which meant that I would be going over Conic Hill twice. I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to it somehow but once I got going I enjoyed it which is often the case.

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I did this run on 7th February and I averaged 13:13 and I remember walking most of the way up Conic Hill. I was feeling good and ran the vast majority of the hill on the way up so that was really encouraging.

The second ascent was tougher as it is a lot steeper on that side and the head wind was very strong. I averaged 12:07 for the whole run so a good minute a mile quicker than the February run which hopefully shows my training is going well.

Friday 5th April – Weigh in and Cycle

  • 11st 6 7/8lbs
  • 8.10 miles

My weight is staying around 11st 6lbs which I’m more than happy with so if I can stay around this weight for the race I’ll be very pleased.

I cycled to and from work again.

Saturday 6th April – Gleniffer Braes

  • 15.06 miles in 2:48:53
  • Ascent – 1581ft

I was keen to try and run steady for my regular loop. I set off at 7.25am as we were planning to go out late morning to Rouken Glen with two of our grandchildren.

I felt good all the way round. I was aiming to get into an easy rhythm of running and stay there for as long as possible.

In the Dragon’s Back there are sections where I’ll need to run at a steady pace so I was trying to imagine how much effort I would need to put in to achieve this.

With 6 weeks to go to the race I am feeling good and happy with my fitness. I have a few more key sessions to go but I also want to make sure I give myself plenty of easy / rest days as well.

Sunday 7th April – Road run with Katrina

  • 5.30 miles in 46:38
  • Ascent – 325ft

Katrina was keen to have a run before we headed to church so we had a run together. It was a bit cold setting off but we soon warmed up as the run went on.

Summary of the week

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I ran five times but I didn’t quite manage my aim of 5,000ft but I purposely wanted to have a medium week rather than another long Munros run at the weekend.

Photo of the week

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Dragon’s Back Entries

I really enjoy looking at who has entered any race that I’m doing so now the Dragon’s Back numbers have been allocated and presumably the majority of the runners are now going to be on the start line I have done some analysing of the entries.

I have also created a spreadsheet with all the previous results . There have been 4 previous races in 1992 2012, 2015 and 2017 races. I reckon that 243 runners have completed the race at least once.

Please note this is an ‘unofficial’ spreadsheet. I’ve just taken the results from the race website.

For the 2019 race there are 463 entries with 75 women and 388 men.  Here is the breakdown looking at past entries and finishers.

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Some interesting facts from this year’s entries …

  • 397 runners have never run it before which includes me!
  • 14 runners have done finished it once before with just 1 female runner
  • 4 runners have completed it 2 times (2 men and 2 women)
  • 1 runners has completed it 3 times
  • 1 runner Joe Faulkner has run all 4 events

One of the stats I was interested in was how many had taken part in a previous event and not finished.

  • 5 women and 40 men have attempted the race and not finished
  • 2 runners have not finished twice

I’m sure their motivation will be really high to make sure they finish the race this time.

From my spreadsheet the percentage of finishers of the previous 3 races is as follows

  • 2012 – 83 started, 34 finished = 40.96%
  • 2015 – 133 started, 65 finished = 48.87%
  • 2017 – 222 started, 127 finished = 57.21%

It is good to see the percentage increasing each edition!

I wonder what it will be in 2019?

Any other comments?

 

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Summary of March 2019

March has been another solid month in my build up to the Dragon’s Back in May. The month was dominated by the Hardmoors 55 on Saturday 16th March.

In total I ran 174.48 miles.

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Summary of all runs in 2019

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Summary of my specific training for the Dragon’s Back

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Finally my goal of running at least 2019 miles in 2019. I’m still ahead of target

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 12

I was keen to get back on my training this week after a taper and race week followed by a recovery week.

The Dragon’s Back race was 8 weeks away at the start of this week so my plan is to have a final 6 weeks of solid training followed by a 2 week taper. Within the 6 weeks I have the following longer runs planned.

  • Sat 30th Mar – 5 Munros from Bridge of Orchy
  • Fri 12th & Sat 13th Apr – Recce Day 4 with Andy Cole
  • Sat 4th, Sun 5th & Mon 6th May – Great Lakeland 3 Day Event

On the other Saturdays I plan to do some runs locally on the Braes. Plus I’ll be doing some more Ben Lomond runs midweek with a double planned one week.

Monday 25th March – Club Fartlek Session

  • 9.05 miles in 1:18:20
  • Ascent – 331ft

It was good to be back at the club for our Monday night run. The session this week was 5x [3mins (90secs recovery), 2mins (1min), 1min (30secs)].

I was feeling pretty good so tried to push the pace as much as I could. I was pleased with my effort over the whole session.

Screenshot 2019-03-26 at 17.33.17

Wednesday 27th March – Hill reps on the Gleniffer Braes

  • 7.88 miles in 1:09:51
  • Ascent – 1,027ft

I had a busy day at work at our Super 7 Athletics final where I was on my feet all day. I set off feeling a bit heavy legged but keen to try and do 4 reps. In January & February I had done 3.

I was a little bit slower than last time but I did manage to run 4 with the last one the fastest.

Hill reps

Thursday 28th March – Pollok Park off road run

  • 6.45 miles in 55:46
  • Ascent – 558ft

I was able to do my regular lunchtime run around Pollok park. The ground was so much dried and therefore less slippy so I decided to push a bit harder.

I went anticlockwise for a change and it was encouraging to see that it was my fastest time going that way round.  I do feel happy with my fitness at the moment so if I can keep chipping away I hope to arrive at the start line in the best shape I can.

Friday 29th March – Weigh-in

  • 11st 6 1/2lbs – I put on a pound this week. I think the extra pieces of birthday cake have had an effect!!

The other exciting news today was an email from the Dragon’s Back with further details and my race number. There are 490 runners on the start list

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I have filled in the medical guidance form and the tent, parking and coach survey so I’m all sorted.

I’ve requested to share a tent with my friend Stephen Brown. I was tempted to add Vassos Alexander but don’t want to be accused of stalking him!!

Saturday 30th March – 5 Munros

  • 19.03 miles in 7:22:00
  • Ascent – 8166ft

I picked up Cammie at 8pm on Friday night in our VW camper van. We drove to Bridge of Orchy, slept in the van and then after breakfast we set off at 6.45am.

We did a route that I last did in 2013. I knew it would be ideal as part of my training for the Dragon’s Back as there would be over 8,000ft of climb and more importantly over lots of narly ground. Our route …

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The profile gives a sense of the climbs …

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The first Munro was in mist but as we made our way to the 2nd Munro the mist cleared and we had amazing views for the rest of the day.

I did a short video of our run which hopefully will give you a sense of our day out.

 Summary of the week

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Photo of the week

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