Human Race Off-Road Series draws to a close in balmy weather at the rescheduled TrailMan Trail Run and Duathlon

Sophie Coleman TrailMan 2014 Winner

Sophie Coleman sprinted to victory in the women’s 13km trail run

The picturesque Eridge Park near Royal Tunbridge Wells played host to the third annual TrailMan event, the last in Human Race’s Off-Road Trail Running and Duathlon Series, on Saturday 15 March.

If the last event, IceMan, was cold enough for an ice cream to complete the course without melting, TrailMan could not have been more different. Monsoon-like conditions forced the race day to move from February to March and competitors no doubt enjoyed the bright spring weather the new date brought.

Around 400 competitors (plus a few eager dogs) joined friends, family, and official series charity Rainbow Trust at the stunning Eridge Park. The several hundred brave souls took on the event’s challenging 6km or 13km runs or off-road duathlon (6km run/20km bike/6km run). With the bike and run courses taking in completely different areas of the park, duathletes bore witness to a wide variety of stunning scenery.

It was also the final chance in the series for our furry friends to team up with their owners for the canicross challenge. The excitement in the dogs eyes didn’t always match the trepidation in their owners on the start line but there were certainly a few tired – but happy – looking dogs and owners in the event village at the end.

First off the line were the 6km runners, then those tackling the 13km course while those with dogs set off just after to hunt down the pack. Finally the duathletes set off on their first 6km lap, knowing that a great deal of work lay ahead.

Dan Falconer from ONE Triathlon club had already wrapped up the Men’s Trail Run Series with superb wins at WildMan, MudMan and IceMan, but was unable to attend TrailMan. He would have had to have been on top form to stop Alex Money in the 13km race however, with the youngster storming home in a hugely impressive time (57:33) ahead of Ben Meakin (58:57) in second and Philip Paterson (59:41) in third. In the men’s 6km it seemed that those spectating had only just waved the runners off when local boy Peter Gibson (27.55) appeared at the finish line almost a full two minutes ahead of Ian Potter (29:42) and Barry Imms (30:39).

In the women’s running events, our favourite Oat Hut girl Sophie Coleman (1:05:19) followed on from her win at IceMan to motor around the 13k course and finish ahead of the field again, with Gail Walker (1:08:07) managing to just shake off the challenge of Rachel Palin (1:08:24) in a hugely competitive race. Over 6km Helen Carrington (42:18) came in ahead of the field with Joanna Stevens (44.14) and Kate Dickens (46:16) filling up the podium places.

Conditions on the duathlon course proved particularly tough for competitors, as the bike course still wore the scars of winter’s intensely wet weather. Nevertheless, a strong field tackled the route with admirable intensity and perseverance. Mancunian James Walker (2:05:12) took the lead in the men’s race on the second bike lap and powered away from the field to take the win, with Colin Dixon (2:09:03) battling all the way to the finish with Roger Fowkes (2:09:23) to take second. In the women’s race Rebecca Hoare (2:27:06) once again duelled with Samantha Aplin (2:33:12) for the victory, ahead of Caitlin Brown (2:52:30) in third.

It wasn’t all about the speedy ones though and it was great to see people battling their own little demons to complete the tough course. PowerBar were again on-hand to offer competitors some much needed fuel for their race, and no doubt assisted a few up the steep climbs! Vita Coco helped the weary at the finish line by providing natural hydration, hugely important as the mercury rose, and popchips supplied tasty snacks for those in the event village post-race. A few eagle-eyed participants also snatched up some cheeky pirates hidden along the course to win themselves a goody bag on the finish line.

Human Race would like to take the opportunity to thank all those that have competed across the Off-Road Series. It has certainly been a fantastic few events made all the better by the smiles (or are they grimaces?) of those making their way round each of the courses. Stay tuned for details on winners and overall placings in the series. The first event in the next series, WildMan, takes place later on this year at the army testing ground of Ash Vale in Surrey.

If you’re looking for another running challenge, why not head on down to picturesque Kingston-upon-Thames for the Whole Foods Market Breakfast Run on Sunday 23 March?