The race gets underway at Conwy Castle. Photo: Montane Dragon's Back Race/No Limits Photography

The race gets underway at Conwy Castle. Photo: Montane Dragon's Back Race/No Limits Photography

Almost 300 runners from 25 nations set out on Monday morning to traverse the length of Wales in one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

Competitors in the Montane Dragon’s Back Race have until Saturday to reach the finish at Cardiff Castle.

After their 6am departure from Conwy Castle, the 298 runners faced ascents of the Carneddau, Tryfan, the Glyderau, Crib Goch and Yr Wyddfa. Hugh Chatfield leads the men’s category, completing the first day in 7hrs 49mins 29secs, while Robyn Cassidy heads the women’s race, with a time of 9hrs 50secs.

The course involves 17,400m of ascent over a distance of 380km.

Ahead of competitors on day two lie Cnicht, the Rhinogs and Cadair Idris, while further south the course goes over Pen y Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. For the first time, runners in this year’s race can choose to take on the shorter ‘Hatchling’ course, tackling the first or second half of each day during the event. Organisers said the introduction of the Hatchling is designed to make the race more inclusive, for those who want to experience the journey through Wales, but don’t feel able to complete the full distance, or want to build up to that in a future year. “Everyone who completes the shorter course will earn a special memento,” they said.

Race director Shane Ohly said: “The field of runners is bigger than last year’s and I think that adding the Hatchling option has encouraged more people to join us.

“There’s going to be some exciting racing at the front of the field and tension elsewhere – this event always delivers a lot of compelling moments and a big audience of ‘dot watchers’ online. None of it would be possible without the backing of landowners, the Welsh Government and our sponsor Montane – our thanks go to all of them, and to our committed and passionate race crew, who will be pulling out all of the stops again, to ensure that being part of the race is memorable for everyone involved.”

Runners’ progress can be viewed on the Open Tracking website.

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