Despite living in North Hertfordshire, a place recognised for a lack of fells and mountains, Hugh Chatfield has a deep love for the hillside, specifically moving through it on foot.
His running journey had brought him to the Conwy Shores, preparing himself on the startline for one of the hardest stage races in the UK: The Montane Dragon’s Back Race.
It was a cool night as he retied his shoelaces and mentally prepared for what the following six days would envelop. Almost nine months of preparation had preceded this moment, and through his own trial runs and recces of the route, he was sure he would prosper in this incredible event.
The Dragons Back as of 2023 is a legendary 380km six-day stage race beginning in Conwy and traversing through some of Wales’s most beautiful vistas, valleys and mountains, finishing at Cardiff Castle.
The route covers 17,400m of ascent with five camps on the route, where racers must meet each evening before the cut-off. The Dragons Back is known among runners as a pinnacle of the sport, with racers coming from all over the world to experience the picturesque Welsh terrain.
Hugh was drawn to the prestigious event after hearing about the adventure from other fell-running friends. Hugh and his coach Marcus Scotney, who recently broke the record for the Ring o’ Fire Ultramarathon Series in Anglesey, decided to focus their energy on completing a Bob Graham round, the Ultra Trail Snowdonia 100km and the 2023 Montane Dragons Back Race.
Hugh completed his Bob Graham in an incredible 17 hours in the summer of last year and placed fourth in the UTS (13:59:23) earlier this year, so he began dedicating all his energy towards the Montane Dragon’s Back with confidence.
“In the same way that when I signed up to the Bob Graham, I did so with such naivety. I’m like, ‘yeah, I can probably do that.’ I’ve exercised for 12 hours, 11 hours before on an Iron Man.
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