Athlete Q&A: Dragons Back Race 2023

The world’s toughest mountain race returns to us this September. Discover the #TeamMontane athletes hoping to slay the dragon this year…

The Montane Dragon’s Back Race takes participants down the spine of Wales on a rollercoaster multi-stage journey of over 17,400m of ascent, across six days. This is not a race for the faint-hearted. This year we have several of our ultra running athletes, each hoping to conquer the Welsh mountains and tame the dragon, just like former Dragon’s back winner Simon Roberts and original dragon slayer Helene Diamantides

To cross the finish line will require all the running skills our athletes have been honing over recent months (more on that below!), as well as nailing their nutrition along the way. Taking up the challenge this year includes: Katy Parrott, Victoria Thompson & Jon Shield...

Simon Roberts Montane Athlete

Why did you sign up to the Dragon’s Back?

Katy: I’d love to tick off every big Montane event. Last year was the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra and I wanted to do one a little closer to home this year. The Dragon’s Back will be a huge step up from anything I’ve done before so I’m excited and nervous to adventure into my unknown limits.

Victoria: I was looking for a challenge that I’m not sure I can complete. It’s going to be tough and there will be things that go wrong that I won’t have anticipated, i’m excited to figure those things out on the go!

Jon: It’s seen/coined as the World’s Toughest Mountain race and I want to be in the biggest, best and most challenging races. 

Katy Parrott Montane Athlete

What do you love about running in the mountains?

Katy: The mountains are where I feel most alive. They keep you on your toes, surprise you, challenge you. But at the same time can offer beauty, peace and space to think. No two runs are ever the same. 

Victoria: Every run feels like a new adventure. There’s always more paths to run on or path-less terrain to explore. You can choose to stay high on ridge lines or drop down to valley floors. The options feel endless!

Jon: It’s the remoteness of the mountains, beautiful scenery and peace and quiet with this.

Lakeland 2nd Female 50 Finisher - Victoria Thompson

 Where has been your training ground for this race?

Katy: I’ve been training on Dartmoor and along the coastal path for long hilly trail runs. Then in June/July I fastpacked the GR20 as a training holiday. It was 196km with over 12,000m of ascent down the most spectacular mountain range that runs the length of Corsica. I also threw in an Ironman at the beginning of August!

Victoria: Mostly the Lake District as that’s where I live. It’s very useful as the terrain will be similar. I’ve also taken the train to the Alps on 2 separate occasions for training weeks. The last trip was to the Swiss/Italian Alps to run the Tour de Monta Rosa route.

Jon: Kyrgyzstan - I raced here in a multi-day event a month prior but I’ll also train on the route with some recces prior, and Llangollen and Snowdonia.

Jon Shield Beyond The Ultimate Mountain Race Winner

What’s your favourite mid-race fuelling snack?

Katy: I’m a huge fan of Resilient Nutrition nut butters and bars - I took these to Corsica and they worked wonders. But I can get sick of sweet food pretty quickly, so always ensure I have something savory/salty on standby - crisps or a croissant!

Victoria: If you’d asked me last year I probably would have said an avocado and cheese wrap! Nowadays, I find it a lot easier to take on gels rather than solid food. My go-to is the Mountain Fuel Cola flavour (with caffeine).

Jon: I’m usually fuelling with my nutrition sponsor Voom which is a mix of liquids and bars.

Dragon's Back Race 2023

Tell us one item of Montane gear you’re loving at the minute and why?

Katy: It’s tough to pick one item! But if I have to choose one, it would be the Gecko VP vest. It’s so comfortable and I love all the different pockets for snacks, soft flasks and space for additional kit in the back. 

Victoria: Living in the Lakes, I’m used to it raining a lot and I often get cold and wet out on runs. Montane’s Minimus Lite Waterproof Jacket helps me stay dry and warm. It’s also super lightweight so adds barely any mass to my running pack.

Jon: I love the Dart Zip T-Shirt due to it being really light and comfortable! 

Jon Shield Montane Athlete

What’s next?

Katy: It would have been a full on few months with the GR20, Ironman and Dragon’s Back, so I’m looking forward to a little rest. Although, I know myself well enough to know that probably won’t happen. The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra could be on the horizon for 2024… 

Victoria: I’m not entirely sure. I’m going to re-assess post Dragon’s Back and see how my body is feeling. I’d really like to try some Skimo races after dabbling in ski touring last winter.

Jon: I’ll be in the desert in November to hopefully complete the global race series and be the first person to ever win all of the events in the most extreme environments on the planet - a long-term goal I’ve had. 

Victoria Thompson Montane Athlete

Keep up with the action

The race kicks off on 04 September. Head over to our official Montane Dragon’s Back Race event hub to find out more.