The six day dot-watching bonanza that is the Montane Dragon's Back has come to a close. Lisa Watson took a commanding win of the women's race. The men's race was much more open, as injury took its toll on the two leaders, leaving James Nobles to finish first. It's been an eventful week not just in terms of the running, but also the race organisation, as the original finish at Cardiff Castle had to be frantically rearranged due to the Queen's death earlier in the week. Thankfully the race organisers quickly found a nearby alternative and the race proceeded as planned, finishing just short the castle gates at Bute Park.
1st - Lisa Watson - 53:46:22
2nd - Bridget Glaister - 65:58:52
3rd - Victoria Morris - 69:22:11
1st - James Nobles - 50:40:23
2nd - David Jackson - 52:29:31
3rd - Lee Parker - 53:22:56
2022 saw the return of two Dragon's Back winners - Simon Roberts and Lisa Watson. Simon Roberts was aiming to become the first back-to-back winner, but faced strong competition from Chris Cope and James Nobles. On Day 1, Chris Cope - who is type 1 diabetic - produced an incredibly strong run, finishing over 25 minutes ahead of James Nobles and 28 minutes ahead of Simon Roberts. As if that weren't enough, Chris extended his lead further on Day 2 and Day 3, with a lead 1hr 5 minutes over Simon Roberts and 1hr 24mins on James Nobles.
However, the Dragon's Back isn't over until it's over, and now that it's been extended to a six day event it's an even greater test of endurance. On Day 4 it felt like the tables had started to turn, with Simon Roberts showing his strength, crossing the finishing line 25 minutes ahead of the competition. Unfortunately disaster struck for him the following day and whilst running on home turf across the Brecon Beacons, Simon suffered tendonitis in his shins which forced him to pull out. With Simon and Chris now injured, James Nobles was in the lead and made the most of it by finishing in 1st. On Day 6 he added further cemented his position and upon arrival in Bute Park was crowned the 2022 Montane Dragon's Back Winner.
In the women's race it's hard not to throw superlatives around regarding the strength of Lisa Watson's performance, because it was on another level. Throughout Day 1 alone she had an hour lead over the next competitor, Helen Brown. On Day 2 she increased this lead to over 2hrs 41mins, then on Day 3 everything changed further down the field, with Helen struggling with injury as Bridget Glaister and Victoria Morris began to battle it out for 2nd and 3rd place. By the end of Day 4 Lisa's lead had grown to an almost unfathomable 9hrs and this continued to grow throughout both Day 5 and 6 to a time of over 12hrs. Upon entering Bute Park she was crowned winner of the 2022 Montane Dragon's Back Race - the second time she has won the race.
Bridget Glaister, who some may recognise from UKC/UKH (and the cover of the 2012 Dorset Rockfax) finished in 2nd, after an incredible and inspiring performance throughout. Bridget, much like Lisa, was someone that seemingly had a smile on their face throughout - enjoying every moment - and paced it perfectly. Victoria Morris finished in 3rd place, completing the podium line-up, although special mention also goes to Nikki Sommers (another regular UKC/UKH contributor) who finished in 4th.
Congratulations to all the athletes who took part and to the organisers for making it happen during such a difficult week.