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The ForestMan report 2011
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 29th June 2011


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Well here it is...one of the highlights of the year, the ForestMan race report from Race Organiser Richard Iles. Before you read on, best block out your diary, get some tissues (for tears - emotional and of laughter), and while you are it, a nice cup of tea. And you know what... I'm writing this intro before I've even read what follows, but I'm sure I won't be far wrong!

I've never done the ForestMan, indeed I've never even been at the event in any capacity (yet!), but if a race report can inspire you to plan on racing in the future then these are probably as good is it gets. If you get a chance, well worth re-visiting the prior years ForestMan reports on these links too. Enjoy!

(And for those not in 'the loop', the ForestMan is a very tough, iron-distance triathlon held in the New Forest by the appropriately names RaceNewForest. With around 150 entrants it's far from the biggest event in the world, but for many, they rate it as the best...). The 2011 results can be found HERE.


About this time every year after ForestMan I sit down to write my insightful assessment of the day with the plan of producing a Pulitzer Prize winning synopsis. This year it will probably make no more sense than it has on previous occasions but before I get on to the race itself I have to report that ForestMan 2011 will stick in my memory (possibly forever, although with a memory like mine possibly 'til about Thursday!!!), as a red letter day in the annals - I really hope I've spelt that right - of RaceNewForest history. The day when (wife) Joanne finally "forgot" something.

Unlike Paul and I (we put it down to age), she has always been totally dependable in the "remembering things department". On Sunday, however, after years of keeping us all on track, she finally cracked and did actually prove to be as fallible as us... ..although clearly not as often (yet). Given her relative youth at least she can at least still remember what it was that she forgot. Paul and I have already forgotten what it was she forgot but we do remember that she forgot something... or at least we think we do!!

Anyway, on with what passes for the race report.

I get a bit bored with events across the globe which promote themselves as the "toughest". ForestMan certainly can't lay claim to a genuinely epic bike course like Embrun nor a run route that includes a big hill to rival Norseman or Helvellyn but it is certainly tough enough.

By way of evidence I submit the words of one athlete who hobbled over to us at breakfast on Monday morning and appeared to have been so "traumatised" by his experience that he couldn't bring himself to even utter the word "ForestMan".

Introducing himself to Joanne and me he said " I did "the thing" yesterday and just wanted to say what a great event ….etc".

Now, we're not aware of any other events anywhere in the world with this sobriquet so we are laying claim to the title and will henceforth refer to our little "baby" as The "ForestMan" AKA "THE THING"!!

Putting out signs in persistent drizzle during the wee small hours of Saturday morning it was difficult to give much credence to predictions of tropical heat on Sunday. Once again, however, once the early mist cleared on race day we were treated to classic ForestMan conditions with clear blue skies, blazing sunshine and barely a breath of wind.

What I want to know is how come I've been blown all over the Forest by relentless gale force headwinds every single time I've ridden for the last month or so????!!

Now the real spirit and joy of ForestMan lies in the camaraderie and the sense of achievement and satisfaction derived from of completing a genuinely demanding event, but there is also some serious racing going on at the front of the field! This year saw victories in both the Men's and Women's races for Iron Distance novices.

After a solid swim, Dan Halliday seized control of the Men's race, producing the fastest bike and run splits of the day to take a convincing victory in 10:03:02. Meanwhile Lydia Browning led the swim out and sustained that lead over the 112 miles of cycling before pulling away on the run to take the women's title in 12:18:18.

Yoann Bourgeois was the second man across the line in 10:28:21 with John Rowlands third (and first Vet) in 10:33:26, Paul Sherwood fourth and Dan McCormack rounding out the top five.

Behind Lydia it was another first timer taking second place as Lou Dutch crossed the line in 13:04:30. Lucy Payne set the fastest run time of the day amongst the Ladies and crossed the line third in 13:13:17 with Alison Walker and Emma Holton taking forth and fifth places respectively. Next home just over a minute later was first Vet Sue Lloyd.

One of the best parts of ForestMan day is the way the atmosphere builds during the evening with more and more fnishers and their families eating (and "rehydrating" at the post race buffet overlooking the finish line: all of which guarantees a special welcome for the heroes who have been out on the course for the longest. The biggest ovation of the day was reserved for the final finisher Mike Mitchell who crossed the line in 16:07:42.

Only three athletes managed to break the four hour barrier for the run with a further eleven gallantly sneaking under four and a half. Another seriously hot and testing day on what is almost certainly the toughest run course in the world... (or at least in the RaceNewForest calendar!!!)

Some Random Thoughts

  • Our marshals were rightly acclaimed by all the ForestMen………each and every one a star!!
  • With a Sprint race also taking place many of them faced a longer day than that of the competitors. It's unfair to pick out individuals but it would also be unfair not to name check Sue Browning and Michelle Ashwell who put in an unbroken 14 hour!! stint at the Cattle Grid!!!!!
  • For an "old school" (or some might say just plain "old") ex-triathlete like myself it is reassuring to again meet so many competitors who still compete with a big smile on their face and in a spirit of genuine sportsmanship. So many tales of assistance given where incidents and accidents occurred. Nice people!!
  • Choosing your own Finish Line music is cool... but did we really need the Benny Hill theme... TWICE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pro-rata, if we had a field the size of a major continental Ironman event that would mean listening to it over 40 times!!!
  • Prize for the most excite(d)(able) finisher definitely goes to Lucy Payne...words fail me!!!
  • Watching some very talented athletes struggling to the finish reminded me of the seriousness of my own ForestMan attempt on August 14th with 6 miles of swimming, 250 miles of biking and just over 60 miles of running by way of a "light warm-up" over the preceding six days... let's hope the whole week is a lot cooler than Sunday but maybe just as wind free otherwise I'll be the next person suffering from Post ForestMan Stress Syndrome!!
  • I need to give some thought to sacking Andy Baker (our vicar friend who comes and does the pre-race blessing). Two years in a row with mist problems, perhaps I need to try a different denomination.
  • More seriously, thanks, Andy: lots of people really look forward to your words of encouragement!!!

I'm sure there are many more things I should/could mention but I can't recall them at present > No surprise with my memory... better go ask Joanne!


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Have Your Say
Re: The ForestMan report 2011
Posted by Poet
Posted at 06:38:12 30th Jun 2011
Reply to this

Awesome report and what sounds like an awesome race, as usual!
I hope to be back in 2012 :D
Re: The ForestMan report 2011
Posted by imbexta
Posted at 22:07:25 30th Jun 2011
Reply to this