Phil Wilkinson in flying form on the race's first day. Photo: Guillem Casanova

Phil Wilkinson in flying form on the race's first day. Photo: Guillem Casanova

The man in charge of the gruelling Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race has admitted some of his decisions have not been popular with some competitors in the race.

The demands of the race continued to take their toll on the field and more runners were timed out or retired through injury during the day, organisers said.

Shane Ohly, director of the five-day race down the spine of Wales, said some runners found his pronouncements hard to accept.

He was speaking at the end of the second day of the race, which saw previous winner Jim Mann still at the head of the leaderboard and Sabrina Verjee in first place in the women’s category.

Mr Ohly said: “Today has been tough for the team. We have had to make some hard decisions and some competitors have found those really difficult to accept.

“As race director, I always have to think about the integrity and credibility of the race. We have rules and it’s essential that we apply those consistently and with parity. This doesn’t always tally with what our runners want from their experience at the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, but we have to take this approach.

“This means that some competitors have been agonisingly timed out or disqualified for major rule infractions. We always give them the chance to explain their position, but remain consistent in our application of the rules, and that doesn’t always go down well with those affected.

“What kind of business kicks out its customers? Well, this one has to sometimes, or it won’t survive in the long term. It’s been that kind of day.”

Jim Mann at the finishing line at the end of day one. Photo: Guillem Casanova

Jim Mann at the finishing line at the end of day one. Photo: Guillem Casanova

Organisers also recognised that the event takes place in a ‘bubble’, with participants intent on completing the demanding course and the race team engrossed in ensuring things run as smoothly as possible, yet the news of the Manchester Arena atrocity had permeated through.

A spokesperson said: “The often remote terrain and poor connectivity mean that those involved in the event are a little removed from the world ‘outside’. However, some news does penetrate that bubble, so competitors and the race team shared the horror of everyone else when word of events in Manchester emerged overnight.”

Competitors arrived at the Vanner Farm campsite yesterday evening after crossing the Moelwyn and Rhinog hills, with 170 runners still in the race. On the first day they had traversed the Carneddau, Glyderau and Snowdon massif, including Crib Goch ridge.

At the end of day two, they had covered 110km (68 miles) and completed 7,400m (24,280ft) of ascent.

Jim Mann built on his advantage during day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, completing the 58km route across the Moelwynion and Rhinogydd in a time of 7hrs 52mins. The defending champion set off last at 9am and in the course of the day passed everyone except Marcus Scotney, who just managed to finish ahead of him.

Scotney started earlier and so still lost 23 minutes to the leader on the day but wasn’t disappointed with the outcome. “I know Jim is so much faster than me over the rougher terrain,” he said, “so today was really about surviving the Rhinogs and reducing my losses.

“The plan worked and when the ground was runnable I was going really well so I hope in the later stages of the race to be able pull time back. There are still three days to go.”

Third on the day was Jez Bragg who was pleased to gain some time on Neil Talbott. Talbott was still in third overall but Bragg is hopeful he can challenge him for the podium. “I don’t know Neil,” he said, “but was glad to pull a little back on him today and hope I might be able to squeeze onto the podium – we could have a good battle.”

Sarbrina Verjee traverses Crib Goch on the first day. Photo: Ian Corless

Sarbrina Verjee traverses Crib Goch on the first day. Photo: Ian Corless

Fastest in the women’s race on Tuesday was Caroline McIlroy in a time of 10hrs 14mins 43secs, the 14th fastest time of the day. The British runner has lived in Newfoundland for many years, where she says there is no terrain really suitable for training for this race close to her home. However, she did still have the advantage of familiarity on the day’s leg.

“When I was growing up we had a family cottage in the area,” she said, “and we often walked over Cnicht, the Moelwyns and the Rhinogs, so today was all very much like home ground to me.” On time she was just ahead of women’s race leader Sabrina Verjee, who completed the 2015 race in 14th place overall.

Verjee still leads by 26 minutes, but McIlroy is now second ahead of Carol Morgan, by just 35 seconds, with a close race is developing between the three.

Joe Faulkner completed another solid day and is still on course to be the only person to complete all four Dragon’s Back Races since the event was founded in 1992. Radio and TV presenter Vassos Alexander is also still in the race, but said after the first half the day: “I’ve been found out. Mountains one, Greek sports presenter nil.”

The public can follow the progress of the race with live tracking via the Berghaus website.

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