Arch to Arc

Lawyer, Perrine Fages breaks the women’s record in one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, the Enduroman Arch to Arc. A challenge which sees competitors run 140km from London’s Marble Arch to Dover on the English coast, swim the English Channel and then bike 288km from Calais to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris.

As one of the world’s toughest endurance events, it has been attempted by around 50 solo athletes, with only 32 (at the time of her attempt) having fully completed the challenge. 

This was Perrine’s second attempt at the challenge, having previously attempted it in June 2018 only for her swim being cut short due to tidal conditions in the channel preventing her from reaching land safely.

Where this would have defeated most athletes, Perrine, whom on this attempt broke the women’s record for the run course, regrouped with her coach and team and set about a plan to return and break the record. 

Where this would have defeated most athletes, Perrine, whom on this attempt broke the women’s record for the run course, regrouped with her coach and team and set about a plan to return and break the record.

Her successful and record-breaking attempt started on August 19th, 2018 at 3:30pm at Marble Arch, running the route to Dover in 18h33m, a phenomenal time considering that 7km into the run Perrine and her support crew learnt that one of the vehicles had been broken into and some of their bags and passports where removed from the trunk, including her passport and spare run clothing. That said Perrine did not let this hold her back and she continued, fortunately with a French ID card she was going to be able to enter France and leave the UK for the swim. And in the spirit of this event and endurance sports numerous fans and past competitors drove out onto the course with bags of run clothing and equipment to patch the support car windows.

Included within these people, was Mark Bayliss current men’s non-wetsuit swim record holder for the event and past overall record holder with his wife and children (dressed in their PJ’s as it was a middle of the night mission to help).

Following the run, there was a short break in Dover, and then she set off swimming the channel at 3:19pm on August 20th, completing an extremely challenging swim (with large waves all night) in a total time of 20h 31m.

At this point, Perrine knew the record was a real possibility, but unlike other athletes, she would not be able to rest for 6-8 hours before starting the bike to Paris, and that she would have to take a brief respite to shower and eat and before starting the bike.

With the support of one of the organiser’s French team members (as her support team could not continue without their passports) she biked the 288km to Paris in a mere 19h 44m to set the new record of 67h 21m breaking the previous mark by over two and half hours.

She comments, “The first time, things have not quite turned out as planned, but that’s part of the adventure of sport, and as such, I set about regrouping with my team and planning for the second attempt and success. On this attempt, we had many adversities to deal with, but the support team and I dealt with them, one at a time. The run was tougher this time, firstly because of the stress caused when the support car was broken into. Secondly, because this time we had to do it overnight, in order to make the tide for swimming and the darkness made it much harder to stay motivated and get into a fast stride. 

“After the run, the swim was even tougher than during the first attempt, but I was perhaps a little naïve to think that the second attempt will be easier. No one can control the weather and conditions in the Channel overnight were really tough. That’s what makes Enduroman Arch to Arc so special. But I made it thanks to my coach and the experience I gained the first attempt.

“After the swim, I knew I could do the record, and it was just about pushing myself all the way to Paris. I have learnt a lot about myself by achieving this race. I feel blessed to have been surrounded by my team and had shared with them memories to remember forever.”

For the challenge, Perrine’s head coach was Ryan Bowd of RnR Sport, with assistance from Tim Denyer a specialist channel swimming coach, Mat O’Halloran (swim coach) and her personal trainer Bobby at the Grand Hyatt. She was supported during the challenge by Ryan, and fellow RnR Sport coach Ralph Hydes, as well as the founder of Enduroman Events Edgar Ette.

Edgar comments, “It is a fantastic feat by Perrine to have set the record. The Enduroman Arch to Arc is a challenge that takes full dedication from an athlete in its preparation and few people have the drive and commitment needed to attempt the event, much less take a setback as Perrine did and come back eight weeks later and break the record so convincingly.”

Perrine’s next big challenge is competing in this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Perrine would like to thank HUUB for providing her with the best swim equipment possible to assist her, through what for her, is not her natural element compared to run and bike.

Perrine’s Results (UK timing)

Run - 140km

  • Started Run on August 19th, 2018 at 3:30pm
  • Finished Run August 19th, 2018 at 10:03 am
  • Total Run 18h 33m run

T1 in Dover - 5h 16m

Swim – English Channel

  • Swim Started Swim on August 20th, 2018 at 3:19pm
  • Finished Swim on August 21st, 2018 at 11:50am 
  • Total Swim Time 20h 31m 

T2 in Calais 3h 17min

Bike – 288km

  • Bike Start on August 21st, 2018 at 3:07pm
  • Bike Finish on August 22nd, 2018 at 10:58am
  • Total Bike Time 19h44m

Total Time – 67h 21m