The World Toughest Mountain Running Race?
For those of you you entered the recent Clennell Colossus and managed to pedal or drag your bike to the summit of Windy Gyle, you may remember one of the marshals who seemed perfectly at home on that wind blown summit. His name is Joe Faulkner. I’ve known Joe for over 10 years having first met him on the early UK adventure racing scene, but he has been playing in the mountains for a lot longer than that. We have since become good friends and have raced with and against each other in various races and have also worked together on his excellent mountain navigation courses run under his NAV4 Adventure company.
However, there is one race that Joe completed way back in September 1992 and ever since, it has been whispered about with a mix of awe and trepidation. Its reputation reached legendary status with fell, mountain and ultra runners the World over by September 2012 when it was run for the second time and next week, it will begin it’s third.
Considered to be one of the toughest mountain running races in the world, The Dragon’s Back runs over 5 days, is 300km long with 16,000 metres of height gain across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain along the spine of Wales. The route is not marked and no assistance is allowed. Competitors must navigate themselves over the high mountains and wild moors regardless of the weather. It is more than a race, for many it is a personal journey to explore their physical and mental limits.
For Joe, however, it will be an extra special journey, for when he stands on the start line, he will be the only person to have attempted the race in all three of its incarnations. Only three of the original 1992 competitors completed the race in 2012 and this year, Joe is the only original competitor on the start line.
Here at High Fell Towers we will be following his attempt to become the only person on the planet to finish The Dragon’s Back an incredible three times. If you would also like to follow his attempt and the attempts of all the other competitors, they will all be carrying tracking devices that allow you to watch their progress in real time. I should warn you, this can be very addictive! I have followed teams in multi day adventure races and have found myself getting out of bed in the middle of the night to check on their progress…. You can find the tracking page here
If all of this talk of running over the mountains is inspiring you but The Dragon’s Back all sounds bit too much, you should take at a look at The Clennell Trail Marathon. We are running two events, a 10 mile and and a full marathon distance of 24 miles over the rolling terrain of Northumberland and the Cheviots Hills. You can find more information by clicking on the above link.
Hopefully, Joe will be helping out again at one of the marshalling points, if you can spare a moment as you are running past, give him a wave, or perhaps a Jelly Baby!