Things start to settle down as the race traverses Cadair Idris on day three of the epic Welsh event.
It all settled down on day three, according to official race reporter Rob Howard. In his latest report, Rob reckons that the initial shock of day one, when the race crossed the main Snowdonian mountains, has finally worn off and it's becoming clear who's sat where in the mix.
In particular that means Steve Birkinshaw started around 50 minutes ahead of his nearest rival at the start and, remarkably, Helene Whitaker - previous race winner - is sat in third place overall some 20 years after she competed in the first race. Awesome stuff.
The race is taking its toll lower down the field however. A fair few racers have either withdrawn or been temporarily pulled out at the halfway point on each day, but then it's a brutal ordeal. Rob quotes experienced US ultra-racer Mike Dacar as saying:
'It's a lot tougher than I expected... my mistake was to train on the trails. I should have left the track and found the hardest way possible and trained on that!'
And those Spanish racers we pictured in full-on beer and kebab action after day one have apparently come to terms with the hardness of the race and are chilled out, racing half instead of full days and enjoying the sunshine.
Day three itself was desribred as 'the hardest day' of the race by Helene Whitaker was another nine-hour epic with the leaders Birkinshaw and Baker finishing together after a tentative non-aggression pact, which may or may not hold. Second-place Baker, by Rob's account, was considering making a race of it today, day four, but fears 'The trouble is Steve is so good at what he does, and I’ve never run this far before so if I race it I could blow up completely ... we’ll have to see how it goes.'
A few hours back, Helene Whitaker has slipped down to fourth place overall, but only by around five minutes, though her cushion over fifth place is a mere two-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, OM's guest blogger, Matt Davis of Gore is having a storming run and at the start of today was sat in an impressive eighth place just over an hour behind Whitaker - looks like those desolate Scottish border training runs are paying off.
At the other end of the seriousness scale, the Spanish and French competitors raced a half-day starting from the halfway point to allow them to reach the overnight camp in daylight and soak up some rays. A nice tough by the organisers. And just to underline the seriousness of the race, eight more of the racers missed the halfway cut-off and had to be transported to camp - long days, hot weather taking their toll.
You can read Rob's full race report at www.dragonsbackrace.com/news/2012/09/05/A_Long_Way_to_Nowhere/ and see more of his images from day three at www.sleepmonsters.com. There are also on-line standings and results at www.sportident.co.uk.
Finally, you can also follow the race on twitter - twitter.com/TheDragonsBack.