Howard Dracup - Adventures On Crib Goch - Sky Running Along The Red Ridge

Howard Dracup - Credits to Chris Bland

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

Hi, My names Howard I’m 35 years old & I was born in a little village called Whitworth just outside of Lancashire in the UK.

Whitworth is amongst the foothills of the Pennines so there’s lots of nice hills, fields, rivers & streams. It’s a beautiful place but there’s no real mountains here- just things we call “fells”.  A fell is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hills.

So I think growing up and playing out as a child I subconsciously had a growing connection with nature. A connection I didn’t know I would have a relentless passion for until later on in life. 

My parents were working class. They worked very hard & raised me and my brother well. We had a good upbringing but my parents weren’t outdoors enthusiasts - not one bit. 

I spent a lot of my weekends with my grandad as a young child because he had a farm on the hills and he would let me help him do stuff. We used to go driving across the fells to feed or find his cows & sheep in all weathers. I loved it. I think that’s when I had my first connection with nature, about as early as 6 years old. 

But as life went by my connection with nature subsided. I made new friends at high school. I finished school and became an Engineer. Got a job and a girlfriend and partied hard from being 18 up until the age of 30. 

By 30 my life was a mess. I’d made myself mentally ill ...that's when nature came back into my life! This is when nature hit me properly.

So I began running on the fells around where I lived. I loved the headspace, the solitude and the way I felt afterwards. I started off running a few miles here and there. Then progressed to my first half marathon.

“The Dentdale Run” & then I moved upto a full marathon a few months later.

My first being the “Manchester Marathon” & then before you know it I got introduced to a thing called an “UltraMarathon”.

My 1st Ultra was a race called “Tour de Helvellyn.” I think that’s when I became hooked on Mountain Running!

The further I ran the better I felt and over the period of a few years I transitioned from running in the hills of my local village to mountainous areas & mountains all over the world.

Mount Batur- Bali
Mount Kinabalu- Borneo
Sapa- Vietnam
Mount Rinjani- Indonesia
Sahara Desert- Egypt
Morzine- French Alps
Mount Teide- Tenerife.

For me, all life’s worries & stresses disappear when I go out into the mountains. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and worry about nothing more than getting from A to B.

This is what I love about running in the mountains so much. I also like the people you meet along the way & the friendships you make.

A majority of the time I run solo as I like the headspace & the escapism but occasionally I run with friends & I really enjoy that too. It all depends what mood I’m in. 

So what started as a hobby then turned into something I started taking a little more seriously. I started with a park run at 30. A marathon at 31 and then by 32 I’d had a taste for an Ultramarathon! That’s when I realised I had some sort of gravitational pull towards running in the mountains.

Running in the mountains just wasn’t enough though. I decided I wanted to enter some races, so at around 33 years old (I’m 35 now) I decided to take things a little more seriously and entered some big races.

2019 was my 1st proper year racing Mountain Races, ultra marathons & Sky Races.

Here’s a pic of me in one of the UK skyrunning series races. 

And here’s a little snippet of me doing a little bit of skyrunning.

To name a few other races; I ran what’s labelled as one of Britain’s most brutal races “The Montane Spine Challenger Race” which was around 112 miles finishing 3rd overall.


Ultra Trail Snowdonia 55 mile race finishing 6th


The Beacons Way Ultra which was 108 miles finishing in 1st position

Another big race I did was the Vietnam mountain marathon 100k which was epic! I finished in 5th position against some of the finest runners in Asia.

For my efforts last year I’ve been lucky enough to get a little bit of support off some really cool companies that have helped me out a little bit - more than they needed to.

I’m not a sponsored athlete & I still have to work full time but they help me out with bits of kit and nutritional items. So thank you to Montane, Chia Charge, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, XMiles & Incite Nutrition I’d also like to say thank you to my coach FitnessLabPT who I could not have got through last year without. 

With the help of these guys it’s now allowed me to work less and focus more on training in the hope that 2020 will bring me better race we shall see.

Iv also moved to the mountains in The Lake District up in Cumbria so I can train harder and for not only that reason but for the fact that I now have real mountains on my door step everyday! I’m so lucky!!

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

So my Story From The Mountain…Theres lots but theres this one summer’s evening that will always stick in my mind. 

It was a Saturday. Around 7pm and me and my girlfriend had decided to go on a run up to the summit of Mount Snowdon in Wales. We spontaneously decided to go up via the Crib Goch arête, which I’ve traversed numerous times & is described as “a knife like ridge” and means “Red Ridge” in the welsh language. 

We were cutting it a little fine with the day light hours so we took our head torches, some spare kit and a bit of food & water to get us up and down safely and off we went.

The first 10 mins is a very runnable track before it gets steeper and steeper, making you have to switch between slowly running and fast walking, pushing off your knees with your hands. Every so often I’d look over my shoulder.

Higher and higher we climbed. Pushing it a little harder now as the cloud banks were rolling in and the sun was getting ready to set for the day.  Racing against the sun to make it to the start of the ridge left us breathless. But with that, the views were breath taking anyway.


Not much further now. We’re very close to the ridge. It was epic because the cloud banks were hitting us and then moving on with the gentle breeze. One minute you could see for miles and then the next you could only just see your hands and feet.

Finally we made it to the start of the ridge and thats when the real fun began. Borderline excited & borderline scared. So with the adrenaline flowing through our veins we made our way across the first section which is relatively easy.

Then we hit some more technical sections which I refer to as the pinnacles which are classed as a grade 1 scramble.

The further we got along the ridge the more beautiful the mountain looked. It was a unique combination of cloud, mist and an orange/red glow of light, given off the sun shining through the clouds. You had to be there....

We we’re making good progress but at about the halfway point it got a little bit colder and was starting to get dark so we briefly stopped to put on our jackets. “May as well put our headtorches on too” I said.

The sun was now a blazing ball of fire in the sky. Engulfed in a haze of cloud. Nobody else in the whole entire world had that exact view we had at that exact moment that night. I’m 100% sure we were the only people on the ridge.

Crib Goch aka the “red ridge” in its naitive welsh language was certainly living up to its name that night. It was magical.

We made it along the ridge and hit abit of a plateau and decide to take a few extra pictures of us messing around before we gave it the final push up to the summit.

There was a nice, easy, gradual, descent, followed by some stepping stones to take us to Mount Snowdon summit. We hit the summit at the perfect time. The views from the top were stunning. We rested for a few minutes and took in the views.

So it was time to start heading down now. I’m guessing it was around 10pm. The darkness was creeping in fast, but it added that extra feeling of excitement to what was already an epic adventure. Going down didn’t take half as long as going up.

In about 40 minutes we had made it back to the car. Luckily we had only needed the headtorches for the last 20 minutes or so. On the way down we spoke about how lucky we was to have decided on taking that route at the last minute & what we was going to eat for dinner ha!

For me personally, this is one of many of the best adventures I’ve ever had in the mountains and that’s another reason why I love running in the mountains...because they are so full of surprises. Each outing is never the same & you never know what’s going to happen!  

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

Through running I’ve definitely learnt a lot about myself. One thing I’ve learnt is that I’m a little bit crazy ha but I think that’s a common thing with Ultra Runners. A lot of friends think I’m pretty nuts! 

Iv also made mistakes & learnt from them too. Like this year I’m going to focus on quality of races rather than quantity and try not to do too much and burn out again.

If I’d like to be known for anything it would be that I’m down for anything at the drop of a hat. If it involves running, mountains, lots of miles & some ridiculous amount of ascent & descent then count me in - I’m game! 

I think in 2019 I found my limit to an extent. I tried to do too much with regards to working full time (on site, away from home, week in week out living in hotels with no stability), training and then also racing as best as I can. By September I was pretty trashed physically & mentally and I wasn’t in a good place but I don’t think I’ve found the limit of my endurance yet. Nowhere near. 

I watched a bit of an interview with a lady who was in a race called “The Dragons Back Race”. The lady was called Lowri Morgan and she said “what you learn about really don’t know what you can achieve until you push yourself to that limit...and when you get to the ultimate limit of your endurance, you realise that you don’t break...your limits bend...and then you start to really enjoy it and you keep going”. I love this quote and I think it’s so true! 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

My favourite item in my pack…hmmm now that’s a tough one! I’d have to say it’s my “Katadyn BeFree” water filter. It’s a 600ml soft flask and I use it on every long run/race.

I find it really handy & it saves me running around with 2L of water in a bladder!

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

Just enjoy it and have fun. The main reason we do this stuff is because it’s supposed to be fun & we love it!

It’s so easy to get caught up in doing things for the wrong reasons sometimes like taking it too seriously! Or trying to do too much too soon. We see these elite athletes on social media doing these amazing feats and think “I wanna do that” and beat ourselves up or get down because we can’t. 

For me, all life’s worries & stresses disappear when I go out into the mountains. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and worry about nothing more than getting from A to B.

Take baby steps & slowly up your mileage and speed. If your hurting the day after your run, take a day off.

Recovery is just as important as your training. Stretching and foam rolling daily really helps me personally with recovery. What you eat helps massively too so try to eat a really well balanced diet.

I eat a tiny bit of white meat, say maybe once a month, red meat rarely, oily fish once or twice a week, a fair bit of dairy, lots of carbs and as much fresh vegetables and fruit as I can. If you decide to take your running a little more seriously then I’d highly recommend a running coach too. 

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

Ohhhh I have lots of people that inspire me! Off the top of my head, Jim Mann, Beth Pascall & Ross Edgley. I don’t really read many books or listen to podcasts. Jim & Beth inspire me because of there commitment. When they are committed they are 100% fully committed! Like machines and it’s like they never ever have a bad day at the office performance wise. They are on it 24/7! 

Ross Edgley crushes it and is a beast! He’s an author & an adventurer. He swam all the way around Great Britain!! He really inspires me and his book is one of the only books I’ve EVER read! The Worlds Fittest Book.  He’s well educated, in great shape and I like the way he used himself as an experiment over the years as he wrote his book. 

Where’s your next adventure?

My next adventure is a Multi Day Race up in Scotland “Cape Wrath Ultra” it’s an 8 day expedition race through the Highlands of Scotland.

You cover 400km on foot. Winding through beautiful lochs, mountains & glens. Your supported each day so your belongings are transported from the start to the finish of each stage, where there will be food cooked ready for you and you sleep in tents with the other participants & make new friends.

All you need to carry are your basics and focus on running - I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing for years.

Where can others learn more about you?

Well I’m on Strava - (are you even a runner if your not on strava?). I love logging my runs & sharing them with people so you can find me on there as “Howard Dracup”.

If anyone wants to check out what I've been up to I use Instagram quite a if you’d like to follow me or ask me anything you can always catch me on there- @howard.dracup OR you can catch me in the mountains in the Lake District.

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