Konrad Rawlik traverses Crib Goch during the 2019 Dragon's Back Race. Photo: No Limits Photography

Konrad Rawlik traverses Crib Goch during the 2019 Dragon's Back Race. Photo: No Limits Photography

An endurance event that claims to be the world’s toughest mountain race is set to get tougher.

The Dragon’s Back Race will be extended next year and will cover the whole length of Wales.

Race organisers have added an extra day to the 2021 event, with the distance increasing from 315km to 380km (196 miles to 236 miles) with runners tackling 17,400m (57,087ft) of ascent, up from 15,500m (50,853ft).

The new Dragon’s Back route runs from Conwy Castle in the North to Cardiff Castle in south Wales, with runners attempting the course over six days.

The Dragon’s Back Race was first staged in 1992 and revived in 2012, with numbers growing in subsequent events in 2015 and 2017. Last year’s race had almost 400 entrants. Canadian Galen Reynolds won the men’s race in a record time and Briton Lisa Watson won the women’s race.

§Lisa Watson in action on the final day of last year's race. Photo: No Limits Photography

Lisa Watson in action on the final day of last year's race. Photo: No Limits Photography

Race director Shane Ohly said: “When I resurrected the Dragon’s Back Race in 2012, I considered extending the route further south.

“However, due to the complexity of the event and my relative inexperience as a race organiser at the time, I chose a more cautious approach and opted for the five-day format and a route that was similar to the original 1992 event.

“Over the years, I have reflected on that decision and feel that now is the right time to make a decisive change. I want the Dragon’s Back Race to achieve its full potential in the years ahead. The full and logical journey down the spine of Wales, from Conwy Castle in the North to Cardiff Castle in the South will be realised at last.”

The new finish at Cardiff Castle will also host the final overnight camp after day six, including a special post-race dinner and the presentation of Dragon trophies, during which the runners and more than 100 volunteers who make the event possible will be able celebrate together.

Much of the work to update the course was completed at the end of 2019, with extensive on-the-ground reconnoitring of the obvious finishing options to extend the race south, and how they connected with the established course. The Covid-19 outbreak interrupted that work, but the key route planning has now been completed.

The 2021 race will finish at Cardiff Castle. Photo: Brian Phillips/picfair.com

The 2021 race will finish at Cardiff Castle. Photo: Brian Phillips/picfair.com

Mr Ohly said: “After careful consideration of the options, we felt that finishing at Cardiff Castle was by far the best choice.

“Day five will now be a monstrous 70km, including an extended traverse of the Brecon Beacons. The new route truly embraces the ethos of the event by continuing the journey along the spine of Wales’s most southerly peaks.

“Day six initially continues this theme, before linking together brilliant tracks and trails that speed participants south and straight into Cardiff Castle, for a spectacular and fitting finish in the capital of Wales.”

Full details of the new day five and six route, as well as the new finish arrangements, will be revealed later this year. Entries for the 2021 Dragon’s Back Race will open at 10am on Tuesday 1 September.

More details are available on the event website.

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