we did the Epic in 2010. the years have made me forget how hard it was. reading these stories make me remember !
I got into MTB via my partner who then suggested the Epic - I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I soon realised. I guess it is true what they say - the training is the hardest, and it is hard. I did hours on my own on the bike all lonely and suffering at my slow pace - twice round Suikerbos as an example a few times. Long rides in the Graskop/Sabie area also mostly on my own as my partner then lived in Durban. I dont know if it is still the same but in those days they had 100km+ races in Sabie and Barberton which we entered but could only finish the 70km odd races - that led to me in the top 10 for the 100km South African leaderboard as they took my shorter course time as a long course finisher!
stage 1 ended with the infamous railway line section - I can tell you we were properly stuffed - we took the view that we are not going to think about things and just do what we need to do. I can tell you if I had to think about it I would not have started stage 2. I bumped into a guy I know at the finish line - he was dazed and confused mumbling that his bike was stolen - he was taken off to the medical tent and treated for electrolyte disturbance ( he overhydrated) and that was the end of his Epic. We started stage 2 and it sort of got easier. we had problems with the bikes and my partner had a mother of a fall - buckled a rim and we had to push to the next waterpoint. but we scraped by and made cut- offs. I had my only fall a few km's from the end at Lourensford - luckily nothing too serious. will I do it again? - not sure I would be able to get so fit again, even if I could I am not too sure. for me that came from nowhere it was great to feel my body adapting to the training and feel you are getting stronger and fitter but hell it is a lot of work and time. what makes the race hard is the climbing - there is a lot of climbing and it is invariably steep and on bad surfaces - you need to be prepared for this and very importantly if you a backmarker hoping to finish - you need luck!