A Welsh farmer’s son and volunteer with The Farming Community Network charity (FCN) is embarking on the Montane Dragon’s Back Race – regarded as one of the world’s toughest mountain races – in memory of a beloved family member who took her own life in June.
Ed Bailey (photographed), who turns 42 on the date of the first day of the race – 6 September 2021 – is running in memory of Elizabeth Mackenzie, his wife Helen’s cousin. Elizabeth was wife to Alex, mum to Lewis and William, sister to Eddy, and daughter to Phil and Pat.
Ed, who is based near Harlech in the county of Gwynedd in Snowdonia, is teaming up with his friend Gwion, a local farmer’s son and holiday cottage business owner, to take the challenge.
The Montane Dragon’s Back Race takes place over six days and spans from Conwy Castle to Cardiff Castle. It is a total distance of 380km, with a total of 17,400m of height gain across its duration – twice the height of Everest.
Planning for taking the challenge started over a year ago. Training was put on hold for a time when Ed underwent an operation in June, which left him unable to train for six weeks. During this time, Ed learned that Elizabeth had taken her own life.
Ed said: “It was a bolt out of the blue. Having seemingly not having found a way out of the dark place that Elizabeth had found herself in, a very sad time ensued – as the family tried to rally around to support and to heal. Elizabeth was a very special lady, somebody that meant so much to so many of us – taken far too soon from an invisible but very real enemy. We will get there together as the family is strong – but it will take time and it won’t be easy and it won’t be the same again.
“I am not as ready as I wanted to be for the start of this race. I feel scared of the unknown; I know this is going to hurt, and my brain says that if I am not going to be able to finish this race – I may be best not starting at all. I recognise that this must be how many people seeking our help in FCN may feel just before they pick up the phone and make that extraordinary first step on the starting line of getting better – one step at a time.
“And so, this is what Gwion and I intend to do in memory of Elizabeth. We shall start this race despite our fear, and we shall not worry about how far we get – it’s a case of one step, and one mountain, at a time.”
Ed volunteers with The Farming Community Network – a voluntary organisation and charity with volunteers in England and Wales that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. FCN helps approximately 6,000 farmers and farming families each year with a wide range of issues, including mental health, family disputes, animal disease and financial concerns.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, FCN saw an increase in calls to its confidential national helpline (03000 111 999) containing a mental health component, such as stress and anxiety.
Ed said: “I am very proud to call myself one of the 400 volunteers of FCN. I recognize firsthand the impressive work that FCN does and the amazing people we meet along the way – those courageous people that reach out to FCN at their time of need seeking help from likeminded people who have often also faced the issues that many farming families face. The emphasis being placed on recognising that as alone as we may all feel from time to time, there are many others in the same place feeling the same and so help is at hand.”
More information about the Dragon’s Back Race is available here: https://www.dragonsbackrace.com/
If you would like to make a donation to FCN to help the charity continue to support farmers and farming families during difficult times, please visit: https://fcn.org.uk/#support
Contact FCN on 03000 111 999 or email email@example.com
For those experiencing suicidal thoughts, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.