Epicman Lancashire Race Review – 10th June 2018
A small group of athletes from Derby Triathlon Club travelled up to Lancaster to take part in the Epicman Lancashire middle distance triathlon. A 1.2 mile swim in the River Lune followed by a single lap 56 mile bike leg around the Trough of Bowland, before finishing off with a 13 mile run along the banks of the river.
Dunya, Katie and Rob took part in the race and were brilliantly supported by fellow club member Chris. Arriving at registration on Saturday afternoon the weather was warm and sunny so they relaxed by the river taking in the scenery and testing the water temperature, which was supposedly 20 degrees!
On Saturday evening, and being the serious athletes they are, they decided to go out for a team meal at a place called Pizza Margherita in Lancaster and then head back to their accommodation for a good night’s sleep. However, on the way back they were drawn to a bar called Ye Olde John O’Gaunt which was playing live music, so in they went and had a few drinks whilst watching a band called Treebeard, who were excellent.
The team woke up a little late on Sunday morning so after scoffing down breakfast and thanking their Air BnB host they headed down to race HQ at Halton Training Camp. Thankfully everyone was racked up and ready to race on time and after the race briefing in transition everyone headed to the riverside to start.
The weather once again was warm and sunny and the race was to begin just after 8am and split into 3 waves at minute intervals based on predicted swim time. Rob was in Wave 2 with Dunya and Katie a minute later in wave 3. The orange hats set off first followed by the green, then pink hats. The water was a pleasant temperature but since it was a river the course was quite narrow all the way out to the first turn underneath the aquaduct, so it was very congested but luckily there were no major incidents for the team. The second half of the swim was much clearer once the pack thinned out and everyone exited the water in a good time.
The bike course was something that was going to be quite a challenge with over 5000ft of climbing during the 56 miles, and with it being so warm it was key to pace it properly and take on plenty of fluids. The scenery around the bike course was simply stunning. The Trough of Bowland is an epic place so the name of race was quite fitting, but what was also epic were some of the climbs…
The first tough climb was out of Quernmore, a category 3 lung buster.
Many of the descents were very fast and twisty and were mostly on good quality roads, but some sections unfortunately had pot holes and some rough or gravelly parts so everyone needed to to utilise every bit of their bike handling skills. Again, none of the team had any issues thankfully.
The second big climb was the Trough of Bowland climb from Marshaw, not massively steep but a fairly long slog.
The 3rd climb to challenge our team (and everyone else) was leaving Slaidburn, another long climb with a steep section at the beginning.
There was only 1 feed station on the course, which was just after the half way point at Gisburn Forest and everyone was able to throw away their old bottles for shiny new High 5 bottles with either water or energy drink in them and also pickup a gel or two if needed.
The hardest part of the bike course , the final big climb, which actually started just before the feed station and headed towards Keasden was tough. It was particularly hard in the middle section of the climb and felt like climbing a wall. It was reportedly 20% or more in gradient but then flattened out a little before a final kick up to the top. At the summit Chris was on hand to provide encouragement and was also taking some great pictures. The views from the top were spectacular before another very fast and tricky descent down towards Keasden
With all the major climbing done the rest of the bike course was rolling, but there was a little bit of a head wind to contend with most of the way back to Halton. All of the team made it back home safely to begin the run, but running 13 miles in the heat was now going to be tough for everyone.
The run left the camp and went out on to the road before going across the aquaduct to the other side of the river. The route was then two out and back laps along a cycle path all the way towards Caton. This gave the team the opportunity to see each other several times throughout the run where there were hugs and words of encouragement. There was only 1 feed station but placed so that everyone passed it four times, it was well stocked with coke, cups of energy drink, cups of water, full bottles of water, flapjack, jelly babies and more. The volunteers were also very quick getting people sorted too.
Even though the run was an out and back route there was still plenty of distraction, the river, trees, fields and just people out enjoying their day along the cycle path. There was also quite a lot of support too, which definitely helped.
After the 2 laps were complete and everyone had picked up both their bands it was time to head back towards the camp and the finish. However, this meant climbing up the steps onto the aquaduct first. At the bottom of the steps there was a sign saying “Welcome To Hell”. The general consensus was that it was an accurate description, i.e hot and very painful, but also pretty cruel after what everyone had already been through… It would be a surprise if anyone actually ran up those steps! 🙂
The final section was just short run back to the camp, then downhill towards the finish line to complete this epic race.
The team performed brilliantly in what was a very tough event. It was brilliantly organised from start to finish and fantastic value for money. £69 for a race of this length in such beautiful surroundings, which included a medal, T-shirt, swim cap and free photos. The team had a fantastic time and would not hesitate in recommending this race to anyone.