Epicman – 11 June 2017 – by Fiona Christian

Note to self #435: If you have to have a Lemsip an hour before racing, you should probably bail.


This was my supposed ‘A’ race for the season. With one’s training partner out of action in the first quarter of the year, I was considering my race options carefully. On the one hand, I could do a nice easy (flat bike) race or I could sign up for something that has a stupid amount of climbing. So, having reviewed the options, I decided that on the 11th June, every man and his dog (in triathlon terms) would be in Leeds….and therefore, any alternative races on the aforementioned date would be low in numbers and therefore high in propensity for high age group rankings….

So I happened upon Epicman. Run by Epic events, this is the first time that this race has been on offer. A middle distance, it offered a swim in the River Lune near Lancaster, a scenic but hilly ride of 90km in the Forest of Bowland and then a nice flat 21km run.

We’d certainly had some epic weather in the week before the event. The Race organiser had communicated that if the river was deemed to have too much current or too high water levels, they’d abandon it. (Note to self #436 stick to Lake swims) . Fortunately, they were to make it a bike and run, rather than doubling the run. I was reminded of the 2016 Rubicon which was personally a great race but shambolically organise where I’m convinced they never intended to run the swim (my opinion). At Epicman, we arrived at 0700 on the Sunday to find that they were still deliberating. I actually saw the Race Director don his wetsuit and start swimming – a true test of whether it was safe. He got out and it was clear weaker swimmers would get swept downstream – so it was no swim.

I was secretly quite relieved, given my cold. So, we set off on our bikes, in pairs, 30 seconds apart – 250 entrants and only 32 women amongst them. I realised early on that if a female triathlete is mad enough to do this sort of bike route (no sexism intended but where some men simply love a hard bike, generally, I’d say fewer ladies), then the lady in question is a strong triathlete (myself excepted). As it was, I reckon a lot of the women were simply doing this as a ‘B’ race before presumably a bloody hard long distance event. Man ladies, the lot of them. (The Sarah’s will get this…).

They were right that the bike leg was beautiful – if you looked up. We had mixed weather – 4 seasons in a day and the wind was, at times, ferocious. However, I battled on (despite the Emphysema) and with strong support from A, the in-laws, Sarah & Isla, I made it to T2 (well, T1). It was pretty much up and down all the way, with some tough ups – maxing out at 20% (felt a bit like Big Jack).

There was a queue for the toilets in T2. Have never seen that before. Plenty of them too – wasn’t just one lone portaloo.

Set off on the run, at km 1, the race leader wished me luck as he returned to Halton Camp (Pff). I was running with a Camelbak – a first for me but I’ve found it great in training and it means I don’t have to keep stopping at the feed stations – think I’ll continue for the longer races. The sun came out and I was suddenly reminded of Embrun and the scorching heat. I’d been ok on the bike with my

cold but on the run, I really was feeling it – but manned up, again, reminding self of Embrun and saying well at least it’s only a half. Fortunately, it was flat and as runs go, it was as easy as you’re ever going to get.

6 hrs 10 to complete. 166 overall. (bike 3.58 and run 2.10). 6th in Age Group and pretty pleased. With a cold and 1800m of climbing, that’s not the worst. I was totally floored for the following week though – the cold turned to manflu and I haven’t yet decided on my next race. We did a fab 100km ride on the Isle of Man last weekend where the British Road Race Championships were held – back in the saddle so looking for something in Sept that will appeal.

Summary of race:

Perfectly organised

Felt like the Race Director really got it

Good nutrition with Hi 5 – Lots of drinks and gels

Only £60 – really a bargain compared to some recent events I’ve seen

Do it if you are a fan of short sharp hilly bursts and you don’t mind lung busting ascents.

Road surfaces rough and saw more punctures than I’ve ever seen in a race.

V easy access from Calderdale. We did stay overnight on the Sat but you could do it from our neck of the woods.

At the end, there was a paltry small bottle of water, could have done with coke and bananas (like the rest of the food stations).

Very northern, friendly and again, will just say the organisation and communication was spot on.

Note to self #437. When husband sends you a link in the days post event saying how to do a sub 6 hr middle distance. Keep temper. Reminded that Steelman 2014 I posted 5.38 and 3rd in Age Group. On a flat bike course. And including a swim. That remains the PB for middle distance.

Note to self #438: Do more races with a flat – or undulating bike course.