A Pembrokeshire woman has been picked to represent the Wales Air Ambulance at one of the world’s toughest mountain races.

Sanna Duthie, 35, of Milford Haven, beat off stiff competition to win the Montane Dragon’s Back Race charity place, which covers 236 miles of Wales’ uniquely wild, trackless, and remote mountainous terrain.

The event will see competitors run the equivalent of 1.5 marathons every day in six days, starting from Conwy Castle and finishing at Cardiff Castle from Monday 4 September to Saturday 9 September 2023.

Ultra-runner Sanna impressed the judging panel with her passion and dedication and is the first female athlete to win a Wales Air Ambulance charity place for the gruelling race.

The panel consisted of Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnership Fundraiser, Tracey Ann Breese, Campaigns Manager Katie Macro and last year's charity-place winner, Richard Gardiner.

Sanna, who works in office administration, said it had been her ambition to enter the Montane Dragon’s Back Race, but the £1,599 entry fee had financially held her back.

She said: “As a proud Welsh runner, the race has been on my radar for many years, I know several people who have taken part which has only fuelled my desire to do it. I work in office administration full time and the entry fee was just too much for me sadly.

“To spend a week running on the mountains in Wales is the best holiday I can imagine, the thought of being out on the mountains for days sounds so freeing. To be given the chance to take part in the Dragon’s Back Race is a dream come true.

“To be the first female to win the charity place is amazing. We need more female ultra-runners. Women are so strong mentally, and this challenge will require me to dig deep.  It's an honour to be chosen and it has given me a big boost mentally, as well as the drive to train even harder.”

Sanna has been Ultra-running since 2015 and has won a plethora of races. These include the Gower Ultra, GB Ultra Beacon, The North Canum, Dirty Dozen Back Yard Ultra and the Preseli Ultra-beast 2022 which she won and set a new female record.

The athlete has committed to raising a minimum of £2,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance and hopes to promote her journey on social media and through a podcast.

Sanna is no stranger to fundraising for the Charity having raised nearly £5,000 in 2021 by running the entire Pembrokeshire Coast Path, an incredible 186 miles, all in one go. Not only did Sanna complete the challenge, but she also achieved the fastest known time of 51 hours and 30 minutes - with no sleep and the only stops being to refuel.

She said: “We were just coming out of lockdown and I managed to fulfil my dream of running the entire 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It was probably the best weekend of my life.

“As a result of that I appeared on radio shows in Wales and was interviewed on lots of running podcasts and I did some talks at the local schools. I even got asked to join the judging panel for last year’s Wales Air Ambulance Dragon’s Back Race.

“I asked for sponsorship and managed to raise just under £5,000 for Welsh Air Ambulance which is a cause I feel very strongly about. The service is very active in our community. Pembrokeshire is quite rural and road links are not great. It is a charity that people in our county care about and want to support.”

Sanna said to complete the Montane Dragon’s Back Race would be a life goal and that she already has a training plan in place for the race.

She said: “It gives me butterflies just thinking of it.  It really will be a dream come true and to be able to do it and raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance really makes it extra special.

 “I would say that I am an emotional person, this can often be seen as a bad quality, but I think it makes me a good ultra-runner. I help and support people and it also means that when I set a goal, I give it my all. I really hope I won’t let you down.”

The Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. It offers advanced critical care across Wales which is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru). 

As a result, the service is consultant-led and is known as a ‘flying emergency department’, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient at the scene of an incident. This includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

Tracey Ann Breese, Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnership Fundraiser, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to offer Sanna a place at this year’s Montane Dragon’s Back Race. It was clear from her application that she is totally committed to running and being able to complete the race, both as a personal goal and to fundraise for Wales Air Ambulance.

“We received a number of strong entries and we would like to thank everyone for sending their videos to us. I am looking forward to seeing and being able to support Sanna’s journey and am truly grateful that she has chosen to support our Charity for the second time.”

To support Sanna visit her Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sanna-duthie3