Martin Stone and Helene Diamantides tackle the Black Mountains during the 1992 race. Photo: Rob Howard

Martin Stone and Helene Diamantides tackle the Black Mountains during the 1992 race. Photo: Rob Howard

A major outdoor brand has stepped in to provide sponsorship for one of the country’s toughest adventure races.

The Dragon’s Back Race has only been run once before, 20 years ago, but after Berghaus announced its support for the event, organisers said they hope to make the gruelling 322km (200-mile) race an annual fixture.

The five-day race, which involves 13,700m (45,000ft) of ascent, will start at Conwy Castle and head south over the spine of Wales, closely following the route of the original, which was won by Helene Diamantides and Martin Stone.

The start in September 1992 saw 32 pairs of runners set out, but only half reach the finish at Carreg Cennen Castle, and the event has gained a near-mythical status among adventure runners.

This year’s Dragon Back will take place in September. Race director Shane Ohly said: “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 Berghaus to test and develop some exciting 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, Berghaus is 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.

“Berghaus is a fundamentally adventurous brand, so giving our support to the Dragon’s Back Race makes very good sense and we are delighted to be involved.”

Helene Diamantides and Martin Stone cross the line in 1992. Photo: Rob Howard

Helene Diamantides and Martin Stone cross the line in 1992. Photo: Rob Howard

One of the original winners, Helene Whitaker, who 20 years previously finished at the front of the pack as Helene Diamantides with race partner Martin Stone, has announced she will tackle the race again.

Twenty years older and the mother of a young family, the Ilkley Harrier said: “I don’t have the selfish luxury of hours and hours roaming the hills, nor do I want to any more.

“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 Dragon’s Back Race without something breaking.”

Three other veterans of the 1992 race have indicated they too will tackle this year’s event.

The start is planned for Monday, 3 September, when 100 individual competitors are expected to line up at the start. More details are on the Dragon’s Back website.

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