With so much uncertainty surrounding us once again, we thought we would start the new year with a personal account of one of our team’s highlights of 2020, the Epicman Windermere Triathlon back in September written by Cycle SOS Lawyer Chris Connor.
It was a proud moment for us as daughter of Cycle SOS Solicitor Paul Darlington also took part in the event as its youngest competitor at just turned 15!
Epicman Windemere Triathlon is a Half Ironman distance 1.2 mile swim, 56 Mile bike with 5200ft of steep climbs and a hilly trail half marathon from the YMCA Lakeside.
The course has changed from when I last did it in 2019 and, of course, strict covid restrictions were in place (mostly affecting the swim).
The event was initially listed for May 2020. The plan was to train over winter and compete in May so I could then take some time off to spend time with my first baby daughter. But, as with everything else on earth, things did not go to plan!
First there was lockdown and the pools shut, then the event was postponed and to be honest I did not hold out much hope that anything would be back on until 2021 so my training died off. I also didn’t have much time to train due to a new job and the arrival of our daughter so I tried to maintain what I had as best I could and see what happens.
When it looked like the event may actually go ahead I decided to get back to panic training at full throttle (always a bad idea) to see if I could be ready for the race on 20th September.
I wasn’t expecting much as a result, but I just wanted to get out and race and just enjoy the day
On the day, the weather was lovely (albeit a bit warm for me) and Windermere looked amazing in the bright sunshine. The organisers had put all the Covid requirements in place and everything felt safe and secure. It was also great to say hello to my triathlon friends who I haven’t seen for a while (from a distance of course). It felt great just to be racing again.
The swim was not a mass start but by race number so we had to run into the water in stages which made it unlikely I would be able to get into a faster group and hang on like last year. My plan was to start off fast and then try and catch some feet ahead of me. That did not happen! I was soon left fending for myself after starting too fast, gasping for air with little swim training. My open water sighting skills were a bit rusty so I zig zagged a bit before finally catching on to a few in front so could benefit from their slipstream for a kilometre or so. I got out of the water at about the same time as last year (but much more gassed from the effort) so it was sort of a good start!
The bike course was longer with more hills than last year and it was hot for the time of year. Being in the lake district, the course is tough with a few big climbs but mostly a lot of undulating that makes it difficult to get into rhythm and stay aero for maximum speed. I decided a few days before the event to do it on my road bike due to the easier gearing (this turned out to be a bad decision on the run).
I felt great at the start, but really felt the lack of fitness and swim training every time I hit a hill and had to put in an extra level to get up them. I then decided to just put in my best and not worry about any time. I also got caught behind a few motorhomes on the fast descent from Torver to Coniston which cost me some time, but secretly I was glad of the rest! The scenery on the bike course was superb. Eventually, I finished in a slightly slower time than last year but with a quicker average speed so I put this down to the course changes.
I knew the run was a killer after last year. The course has also changed slightly. It is a trail run through the grounds of the YMCA on grass and trail. It goes up and down and twists and turns and generally just finishes off whatever is left in your legs from the bike leg. Everybody who I speak to who did this race last year always mentions “the run”.
The weather was better than last year and that meant there was less mud but also meant it was warmer.
I started off conservatively as I felt pretty spent and things were going well until I hit the descents when the cramp hit. I think it was the last-minute switch to my road bike (or lack of training) which meant that my hamstrings were not happy and cramped up causing me to run downhill with straight legs! As ever with long- and middle-distance triathlon you either quit or carry on so of course I persevered and had to suck it up.
Eventually the torture was all over and I came in at 5:38:09 which was slightly slower than last year but again a different course so not truly comparable (that is my excuse anyway)!
So, all in all, job done and a few minutes slower than 2019 but different conditions and rules so I count that as a result after the year we have had. Most of all, it was a really enjoyable day of suffering in the lovely lake district and a great springboard into my 2021 season.
For anyone looking to take on the challenge, the 2021 Epicman Windermere is planning to go ahead on 30th May. We hope we can make up for 2020 with a packed season of events.