‘Conquering the Dragon’ film review

In a world of hyperbole and ‘epic’ challenges, the 5 day, 315km, 15,500m Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race in Wales truly is the real deal. Niche, hardcore and highly respected amongst the international mountain running community, this event really is a cannon-fodder free zone.

Wannabes beware – if you think you can fast track yourself to the finish line with a mere few years of hill running under your belt, then prepare to feel the full force of the Dragon’s wrath. “You need to be able to suck up quite a lot of suffering to do something like this” advises Race Organiser Shane Ohly. “You’ve got to be competent” explains 2017 competitor and BBC sports reporter Vassos Alexander.

The Race demands experience, skills, guts, humility and luck in equal measure and ‘Conquering The Dragon’ portrays this in straightforward, BS-free style. There’s no hyperbole, no overdramatic music, no flashy, ego-driven characters here. Zero false drama and even less fake news. What we have instead is a refreshingly understated film that tells the story of the 2017 edition of the event, featuring a cast of genuine, endearing and utterly bonkers endurance runners attempting to traverse the mountainous spine of Wales from north to south.

The story is overwhelmingly one of attrition as, one-by-one, the 223 runners who start the race fall by the way side, succumbing to injuries and/or unable to meet the rigorous cut-off times set by the race organisers. In the end, just 127 runners make it to the finish in Llandeilo to pick up their well-earned dragon trophies. At the front of the pack, the race makes for compelling viewing. After 4 long days of racing, the top two men and women were separated by just 7 and 8 minutes respectively, making Day 5 a real race to the finish.

The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race takes no prisoners and ‘Conquering The Dragon’ is a straight up account of the physical and mental challenge it poses. Whether it inspires you to sign up or puts you off for life, Conquering The Dragon provides a genuine insight into the world of multi-day mountain running and does a great job of telling it like it really is.

Words: Sophie Nicholson Main image: www.iancorless.com

‘Conquering the Dragon’ is available now to buy or rent – and you can watch the trailer below.



  1. It’s not really available to buy, only as a stream anytime which is a fair distance from owning the media. My folks wanted to buy it as they don’t have a TV connected to the internet – this way they can’t which is really disappointing for them. PC monitors are poor substitutes for the smooth quality delivered by a TV. Real shame, I hope the production team offer a download option.

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