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Epic Dartmouth – East Coast Triathlon

If you're looking for excitement on Canada Day, head to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

If you’re looking for excitement on Canada Day, head to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for a brand new and very exciting set of races. EPIC Dartmouth is shaping up to be an amazing event attracting an international and local crowd of experienced triathletes who want to combine a challenging course with a destination location and superb hospitality.

EPIC Dartmouth’s race director, Tim Chesnutt, says the unique event began as a way to help their regional triathletes prepare for the Mont Tremblant Ironman in August. ‘We thought it would be great to host a long distance training day for these first time Iron-folk,’ he says. The idea came from Epicman Lake Placid, a free, self-supported training day created by Canadian Devashish Paul. Taking place six to seven weeks ahead of the Ironman, Paul’s course includes distances for a full swim and bike, but half the run.

Dartmouth organizers borrowed the Epicman idea but it is “the first time in the world this distance has been organized as a race,” says Chesnutt.  The transformation didn’t stop there. “From triathlete requests, we added the AQUA Dartmouth distance for those who didn’t want to do the run, and the IRON Dartmouth distance for those whose, ‘A’ race was further out, who can’t travel away to do an Iron-distance race, or who love to do multiple Iron events each year.”

That amounts to three races on Canada Day. There is AQUA Dartmouth (3.8k swim and 180k cycle); IRON Dartmouth (add the 42.2k run) and EPIC Dartmouth with half the run. And there’s more. The event is a qualifying race for joining Team Canada at the 2013 World Long Course Championships in Belfort, France.

You can chose to compete in EPIC Dartmouth as a team and the organizers will help you find your mates if needed. There is also an option to use the event as a charity fund raiser. If that is your goal, a significant portion of the registration fee goes to the charity of your choice.

The Dartmouth triathlon community is excited about becoming a race destination and have full backing from the city and several tourism organizations to implement their ambitious program.  Local triathletes have competed around the world, but Laura Reardon, who appeared on Kona’s Age Group podium last year, says it best: “Nothing compares to home for hospitality and warmth, natural beauty, clean fresh air – we’ve got it all here in Eastern Canada.”Reardon is taking part in the relay with two friends and cannot wait.”It’s going to be a really great race, filled with fun and beauty and organized by some very professional folks that know their business well. I know the mandate of this race is to make it the best event possible.” She has also heard rumours of lobster at the awards banquet.

Despite a late start with advertising, attention is growing at a surprising rate and there are several international registrants. One is Sam Gyde of Belgium who was the number two age grouper overall at Kona last year.”The Dartmouth course promises to be the best of two worlds: challenging and beautiful scenery,” says Gyde. “However what really struck me was the drive of the organizers – their focus is really spot on what an athlete would consider to be a perfect event.” Gyde recommends this race for everyone looking for an endurance event with lots of distance options this summer.

The course has been designed for as many as 425 entrants and provides flexibility in the race rules to switch distances on the fly. Because people may participate as a training day for their ‘A’ race or as an extra race squeezed into their schedule, the organizers are adding a twist, allowing competitors to switch between race distances up to and even during race day. “So if they are part way though the run on the IRON Dartmouth distance and a knee starts acting up?” explains Chesnutt, “They aren’t stuck with risking injury to avoid a DNF – they can simply switch to the EPIC Dartmouth distance, finish with full fanfare, the medal, the t-shirt and the glory.”

Chesnutt designed the course in consultation with other Iron distance triathletes and he warns that despite the lack of mountains, the course has just as much vertical as Ironman Canada. The event website, epicdartmouth.com, features Google maps that let you preview the course, stopping along any portion to get a street perspective.

Chesnutt promises racers that ‘we are going to pull out all the stops to make athletes feel like world stars while they are here.  There has never been an event of this magnitude in the East, and for those that come, they won’t be just another entrant, but will be treated like the stars they really are.’

Sam Gyde’s enthusiasm goes beyond the race planning by organizers. “They have so many great ideas to make it a great event for both the competitors and their family.”While in the Dartmouth region, you can easily add these to your itinerary: sea kayaking, surfing, whale watching, deep sea fishing, sailing, rock climbing, mountain biking and of course lots of delicious seafood.

You can also choose from many great attractions like the Halifax Harbour, Maritime Museum, the Nova Scotia Tattoo (“World’s Biggest and Best Annual Indoor Entertainment Extravaganza”) and the Fundy Geological Museum. And don’t forget the famous Cabot Trail, Peggy’s Cove and the Bay of Fundy.

“We live in a destination part of the world, with a huge number of long distance triathletes that usually have to fly away to races… no more,” saysChesnutt. “We are not just holding a race; this event is targeted to be a world class event right from day one.”

If you were planning to head east this summer, it sounds like Dartmouth would be a great stop. If you had no plans, maybe you should make some. Seriously, can you resist EPIC Dartmouth?

For more information visit www.epicdartmouth.com

Helen Powers is a freelance journalist from Hamilton, Ontairo.