The Midnight Man Triathlon taking place in Dartford is the UK's only overnight long course triathlon.
What Is The Midnight Man Triathlon?
As the name suggests, the race takes place in the evening and through the night on closed roads. The race’s late nature adds a new dynamic to the long course triathlon distance. The race begins at 6pm and the racers battle throughout the night, finishing in the early hours of the following morning. The race is set up at an industrial estate which you can see when travelling over the QE2 bridge. The race is limited to 300 participants making it a close-knit event. The fast, flat and traffic-free course should ensure fast times for athletes seeking a personal best. With multiple laps passing by the transition and main spectator area, motivation levels promise to be kept high.
The event is a long distance race, offering the full long course distance as well as shorter distances.
Midnight Man Full: Swim 3800m. Bike 180km. Run 42km.
Midnight Man Half: Swim 1900m. Bike 90km. Run 21km.
Midnight Man Quarter: Swim 950m. Bike 45km. Run 10km.
Entry costs £160 for the full iron distance, £90 for the half and £55 for the quarter distance.
As a race which takes place in the dark, careful set up is essential for a speedy and safe performance. Registration and setup open at 3pm and close at 5pm.
Competitors are given one race number to wear, one number to go on their helmet, and one race number that must go on the bike. Once registered, you rack your bike on a numbered rack. The race kit areas are larger than those of a regular long course triathlon to compensate for the late night setting. You can also have a large plastic bag for extra kit which you may need overnight as the temperature changes. These are handed over at registration and taken out onto the bike and run course. Once you register you will receive your chip, which is used for timings so make sure not to lose it and remember to return it or you will be charged. All the races start at the same time in the lake by the registration at 6pm.
The swim requires laps of the lake, with coloured buoys directing you around the route. In previous years a yellow buoy means go left and a red buoy signals a turn to the right. Wetsuits are mandatory.
The swim distances are 4 x 950m laps for the full ironman, 2 for the half and 1 for the quarter. There are 10 safety boats which drift the lake checking the safety of all the participants across the course. The race is kept close to the edge and swimmers are told to swim towards the edge and raise an arm if they are suffering from any difficulties and someone will go with them. The 6pm start means sighting is low, so it is recommended you take a walk around the race to familiarise yourself with the route before the race begins and look out for the buoys whilst it’s still light.
This flat cycle on closed roads offers a great opportunity for cyclists to gain speed and go for a PB.
By the time you are ready for the ride, it’s dark and so bike lights are essential. All riders are required to use good lights, and spectators will also need to bring lighting in order to be seen. Roundabouts are lit but not linking roads.
The race layout is in laps; 20 laps for the full Iron, 10 for the half and 5 the quarter. The laps must be counted by the individual, with guidance from the timer on each lap completion. It is also recommended that cyclist use a bike computer with their own distance guide to help manage counting. There is a strict no drafting rule. There are some speedbumps on the course, so be prepared for quick puncture changes.
The bike has nutrition stops which provide HIgh5 energy drinks in 750m/500m bottles, water, bars, gels, and bananas. The feed station also has a pump and some puncture repairs should competitors need the extra support.
All the bike bags are kept at the bike station, which will be given upon request or bought back to the start.
After racking their bikes, competitors begin the run into the early hours of the morning. Again, the course follows laps, 8 laps mark the full 42.2km, 4 laps is 21.1km and 2 laps equate to 10.5km. Participants pass the finish line with every lap. The flat course enables fast times to be recorded. With the run comes the change in night temperatures, so be aware of the cold, especially if you have to stop and walk.
At the start of each lap is a feed station which has High5 energy drinks in 750m/500m bottles, water, bars, gels, and bananas, cups of coke, jelly babies, jaffa cakes and savoury biscuits.
The participants finish around the sunrise over the QE2 bridge which is meant to be quite spectacular.
The race begins at 6pm and the cut off for finishers is at 11am the following day.
Water Temperature 21°C.
2015 Median Finish Time 12.08 hrs.
20% DNF rate (did not finish).
Leave with plenty of time as sat navs can struggle with the industrial setting and the roads surrounding the QE2 bridge are renowned for traffic.
Spectators need to pack insect repellent, especially as they are by the water early evening, home of many creepy crawlies.
Make sure your bike light is securely attached as there are large speed bumps, which when taken at speed can cause your bike lights and other attachments such as the bike computer to come loose.
Practice nutrition for a later start. Most regular triathlons start earlier in the day so it’s important to practice the nutrition timings for the race so as not to get caught short on the day.
Spare batteries are at the feed stations, however, as it is a night race it is always a good idea to pack your own additional batteries to have with you throughout the ride.
Don’t miss the sunset and sunrise over the QE2 bridge a spectacular and a unique experience.
Marshalls surround the race should you need to drop out and they will guide you through the procedure.
Cycling in the dark makes the ride feel like you are going faster than you actually are, so ride with caution.