Berghaus is to be the main sponsor of the Dragon's Back Race, a five day adventure race that will traverse the mountains of Wales in September. And twenty years after winning the original event, runner Helene Whitaker (nee Diamantides) has confirmed that she will be racing again this year.
The first Dragon's Back Race, which took place in September 1992, saw 32 pairs of runners tackle an epic five-day route along the mountain spine of Wales. Only half of the competitors finished the course in a race that was famously won by Helene Diamantides and Martin Stone. Since then, the Dragon's Back Race has developed an almost legendary reputation. Renowned for being extremely arduous, the race cemented a place in many adventure racers' imaginations thanks to books like Richard Askwith's 'Feet In the Clouds'.
Twenty years on, the event is now returning to the mountains of Wales. Organisers hope it will become an annual event. The 2012 course will follow the original route very closely, starting at Conwy Castle in the north and tracing the hills southwards to Carreg Cennen Castle, with approximately 200 miles and 45,000 feet of ascent over five days. Roughly 100 competitors are expected to take part; but how many will cross the finish line?
The most notable name on the list of competitors will be that of Helene Whitaker, but remarkably she will be joined by three other 1992 veterans too. It's hard to imagine where they all get the energy.
Race Director Shane Ohly said:
'From the beginning the status of the race has been an irresistible lure to many runners. The fact that four veterans from 1992 will be taking part is confirmation of the very special hold it has over everyone involved.'
As well as being twenty years older, Helene also has a young family now. How has this affected her training and preparation?
'I don't have the selfish luxury of hours and hours roaming the hills! Nor do I want to anymore' she said. 'My old joints certainly wouldn't thank me for it either if I tried to. It was my husband who encouraged me to enter, as I didn't think it would be fair to the family to commit the time and effort required to have half a chance of making it to the start line, let alone the finish line. I've had to concentrate on trying to get fit enough to train for the race without something breaking.'
Shane Ohly also welcomed the involvement with Berghaus:
'From early on, Berghaus recognised the unique and compelling challenge that the Dragon's Back Race represents to both competitors and their kit. As such, I am very happy to be working with [them] to test and develop some exiting new products while I spend many days – in all weather – in the mountains of Wales refining the course.'
'As the principle sponsor of the race, they are providing mountain clothing for all the race marshals, which reassures me that whatever the weather does my team will be warm and dry and the race can go ahead unhindered.'
David Heath, Berghaus global vice president of product and brand marketing, added:
'Berghaus has enjoyed associations with many events over the years, but I'm not sure that any of them epitomises the phrase 'adventure race' quite as much as the Dragon's Back Race. When Shane told us that he was planning to bring back this event, we were extremely excited about its potential on many levels. It's going to be a great testing ground for new and existing kit, and we plan to have at least a couple of Berghaus athletes participating in the race... [W]e are delighted to be involved.'
The 2012 Dragon's Back Race kicks off on Monday 3 September. To find out more visit the race website