Simon Roberts and Katie Mills have recorded convincing victories in the Montane Dragon’s Back Race 2021.
Welsh athlete Simon and Canada-based Brit Katie took commanding leads into the last day of the six-day stage race and ran the final 63km and 1300m of climbing to cross the line at Cardiff Castle.
In a race that covered 380km and 17,400m of climbing, Simon, 33, was the overall winner in 45 hours, 42 minutes and 11 seconds and became the first Welsh winner of the event.
Like Simon in the men’s race, Katie led the women’s field from start to finish and also finished seventh overall in 61:12:54.
Russell Bentley was second overall in 47:08:55, with Matt O’Keefe, 38, from Wales, third in 52:08:13. In the women’s race, Elaine Bisson claimed second in 66:53:28, with Cat Slater third in 69:49:14.
Simon crossed the line alongside Russell today. Simon said: “I am elated. I said at the start that I would win. I had trained enough and I was confident I would win. I have done what I set out to do. But I still can't find the words to explain how I feel.”
Speaking about Russell, he added: "I have so much respect for Russell as an athlete. He is a tough runner, a proper runner. He has tested me, especially on the road sections. He is awesome and a top bloke."
Katie said: "It feels really, really good to get here and to not run anymore. I just tried to hold it together all week. I am so proud to have finished it. That means more than anything.
"I have had injuries for the last few years so to get to the finish line in one piece is amazing. There are not too many girls who have got to Cardiff and I am so happy to have performed how I wanted to.
"All the guys and girls did amazing in this race."
Russell, 40, from North Wales, added: "I feel ecstatic. The crowd is brilliant and the castle is gorgeous. I am over the moon.
"When it gets tough it is your kids you think about. You get dark times in an event like this. It tests you like you have never been tested before. It is thoughts of the kids that get you through.
"Racing against Simon has been great. He was a very aggressive competitor. I was trying my best every day to shake him. I didn’t have one easy day.
"I have got to hand it to him – the better guy won. I really gave it everything and there was nothing more I could do. He had more than me. He is rising star and a nice guy."
This year’s race was a day and 65km longer than previous editions and hot weather early in the week had a big impact on the field.
Of the 367 starters, only 25% are expected to finish by the cut-off point of 10pm tonight. If they fail to meet the deadline by even a second, they will have fallen agonisingly short of completing the epic race.
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Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.