Camp Blogs

Thank Goodness for Clif Bar!!

clifThank goodness for Clif Bar!! I have been a bit busy with work, getting the house ready to put up for sale and looking for a new house, (or motorhome -stay tuned!) so I haven’t had the time I would have liked to experiment with nutrition bars. Enter Clifbars - an ethical company that takes whole food seriously. Plant based nutrition AND free of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup who have sponsored me on this Ultraman journey AND as well as fuelling me have sent me some cool kit! I did find the time, however, to make these Super Simple and easy to put together (right up my alley!) Onigiri. A Japanese rice ball popular in ultra race aid stations due to its cooling effect on the body – loaded with carbohydrates, electrolytes and salt and easy to digest to boot. The photo is google image (mine weren’t so pretty) and I got the recipe from :

riceEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

By Scott Jurek, Steve Friedman

2 cups sushi rice

4 cups water

2 teaspoons miso or umeboshi paste

3-4 sheets nori seaweed

Follow the directions for cooking the rice, then rinse and place the rice in the fridge over night to cool.

Using your hands, form a 1/3 -1/4 cup rice into a triangle. Spread 1/4 teaspoon miso or umeboshi paste evenly on one side of the triangle. Cover with another 1/3-1/4 cup rice. Shape into one triangle, making sure the miso is covered with rice. Using half of one sheet of nori, wrap the rice triangle in nori, making sure to completely cover the rice.

 Next time I make these, I am going to make a bit smaller. These lasted a good 4-5 bites and on the bike I am not going to want to hold on to these suckers for that long. I also added pickled ginger (to keep the tummy happy). On the whole I am happy with these and with the seaweed sheets they have their own wrapper.

They are a big hit when you’ve been having sweet stuff and want something salty and savoury. But I’m not against trying these with almond butter or honey…

My favourite thing in the world is quick and easy to assemble snacks with as few ingredients as possible – hopefully at some point I will have the time to get stuck in making more bars. The toughest thing about triathlon- fitting life in between training sessions!

*This week I spent:

4 hours swimming (missed one session)

4 hours running

7 hours biking (cut 2 sessions short)

*And watched:

The Sasquatch Gang

Carpool karaoke with Gwen Stefani, Adel, Sia, JLo, One Direction, Chris Martin, and Elton John – and yes, I sang along.

Hundreds of swimming videos (at least 10)

Britain’s Next Top Model cycle 10… all 9 episodes… I’m not proud of this.

My Vegan nutrition for Ultraman

carrotBeing Vegan and with the rigours of the particular challenge that Ultraman places I have to really consider the nutrition I am going to use and how it will fuel me pre, during and post race so this week I did some nutrition testing. First up was some raw carrot cake balls; next week it is Scott Jurek’s Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri). If you are interested, here is the recipe:

No-Bake Carrot Cake Energy Bites

Courtesy of Amanda @ Running with Spoons

Yields: 12 balls


  • 3 Medjool dates
  • 4 dried apricots                                                    
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

In a food processor, combine first 5 ingredients until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the coconut) and continue processing until smooth.

Roll into balls and press into the shredded coconut .


1, 2, 3 ....GO!

So my swim training is kicking into high gear – with 123 days to go, I guess it had to at some point. A Tuesday night 5.6k set took 1hr 45mins – which seemed ok until I realized the race is 10km in Lake Bala so basically I am looking at about 3.5 hours if I don’t speed up!  If you fancy replicating the session it was:  1 x 600 pb/pad

6 x 100 pb only – 10 sec rests

2 x 500 pb/pad – 30 sec rest

5 x 200 1st , 3rd and 5th are pb/pad; 2nd and 4th are pb only – 15 sec

3 x 400 pb/pad – 25 sec rest

4 x 300 1st and 3rd are pb/pad, 2nd and 4th are pb only – 20 sec


The weather has been, shall we say, “changeable”. There was a 2 hour window last weekend to take out The Beast (I am experimenting with names for my bike). This was the inaugural outing – and I am so happy to say The Beast is ALIVE! She is a Dimond with Knight 65 front and 95 rear wheels – perfectly fitted as always by Richard at FreeSpeed.

It was nice to be outdoors as I have been doing all of my cycling on the turbo trainer in the garage. At some point I think I will have watched every movie on YouTube!

Happy training!!


What do you do when Marathon, Ultras or Ironman isn't enough?

IMG_4348It all started with a book. “The Race Within” by Jim Gourley – a story of passion, courage and sacrifice at the Ultraman Triathlon. Having spent the last 15 years racing triathlon up to Ironman distance and running up to Ultras my planned ‘easy’ 2016 season of ‘just’ racing half ironman distance was slowly slipping through my fingers the more I read.   In December 2015 when I entered UM UK I had a great idea for a blog writing about what it takes to get to the start of Ultraman, as a Vegan how I plan to implement a plant based nutrition plan and ultimately how the race goes – then all of a sudden it’s the MIDDLE of APRIL! Day one of this three day race is 1st of September. Roughly 4 months away. Training so far has been about keeping the fitness I already had from training and racing Ironman distance and staying injury free. Four week blocks of training have emphasized building consistency and volume – nothing too daunting… yet. If you are not familiar with the rigours of Ultraman the race information is below.

Friday – Stage 1 – 10.0 km (6.2 mile) 1km x 5 loop swim up the right side of Bala Lake . The swim is immediately followed by a one-loop 144.8 km (90.0 mile) bike ride beginning & finishing Day 1 in Betws-y-Coed in Conwy. Time Limits – All swimmers must be out of the water within 6 hours and the bike stage must be completed in 6 hours.  Stage 1 has a total cut-off time of 12 hours.  All athletes will be timed.

Saturday – Stage 2 – One-loop 275.8 km (171.4 mile) bike ride beginning and finishing Day 2 in Betws-y-Coed in Conwy County. Time Limits – Bike (Stage 2) in 12 hours. All athletes will be timed.

Sunday – Stage 3 – Mt. Snowdon is central to the 84.3 km (52.4 mile) double-marathon run course. Day 3 begins & ends in Betws-y-Coed in Conwy County. Time Limits – Run (Stage 3) in 12 hours. All athletes will be timed.

Each must be accompanied by an individual support team of at least two persons over the entire course.  Individual resources: mental, physical and spiritual, are shared in an atmosphere where the pursuit of human excellence is the fundamental rule of the road.

Stay Tuned: Next week I will be experimenting with my plant based nutrition plan!!

Epic Camp - The Numbers

photoIn the blog we have kept we have often referred to the volume of training that we were doing on Epic Camp Kona 2014 and therefore I thought it would be enlightening to "do the math" (as they say) and tote up exactly what it was we had been doing.  Before doing that I think it is worth pointing out that this all was very manageable and took you nicely to the edge without tipping you over it.  I suspect in the full Epic Camp that being tipped over that edge is a regular occurrence. I also think that the volume we did will mentally prepare you well for the rigours of long course racing - as I've stated before the actual 70.3 race felt like an easy training day volume wise as we were finished by lunchtime. I believe that camps should be a big part of training and in future articles I'll write how to do your own, but I mainly think about how much fun they can be. Some things to focus now on how to get the most benefit from a training camp are below

The lead in - When you have a training camp coming up, it is wise to focus on preparation but that doesn’t mean race ready. You need to ensure that you are fit enough to be able to get a physiological benefit out of the camp rather than just getting tired. To address this, work toward a solid block of training that is consistent across all disciplines. Don't be overly concerned about length of sessions, just aim for my favourite word - consistency. This consistency helps to develop durability.  A camp is much more enjoyable when you are durable and healthy going into the week. The final tip during the lead in to a camp is to make sure you freshen up the week before. You are going to shock your system at camp. Make sure your body is ready to go.

The Camp - The idea of a camp is to take you out of your comfort zone and the safest way of doing that is big bike volume - Epic Camp and Epic Camp Lite does that. You get to train full time and push the limits. The biggest advice here: resist the urge to go too hard, set limits for yourself (for example, power and HR caps - which are great when the devices actually work!).  It is best to pace a camp much like an ironman. Build into the week.

Post camp - Refresh the week after the camp. How do you evaluate the success of a camp? By how quickly you can get back to a normal training week.  Post camp week is the time to assimilate back into normal life and let the week of training absorb. Remember camp life isn’t normal life. You can’t be expected to maintain that level of training when you have work/life/family commitments.

Ok so you've been in suspense long enough - the numbers. In the 7 days of Epic Camp Kona 2014 we did:

Swim - 10km (6 miles)

Bike 765km (480 miles)

Run 59km (37 miles)

Epic Camp - Reflections

Epic Camp Having completed Epic Camp Kona I thought it might be useful to write down some of my reflections on a number of subjects.  To put them in perspective we came into the camp with no real aspirations in terms of outcome and certain no outcome goals for the race.  What it turned out to be was the most fantastic experience with a great bunch of people and actually it showed us just what can be achieved in terms of training and yet still achieve a solid race.  Not least the gains we have made mentally will see us in good stead for the future - it is not many people that would consider the distances of a 70.3 as an easy training day but that was our perspective going into this race when compared to what had gone before.

So to the reflections: I have tried to group them under headings  and these are purely personal and will not necessarily reflect the rest of the Epic Campers thoughts although several will ring bells throughout I suspect.


IMG_0807I used my Cervelo P2C Tri bike for the camp and 95% of the campers were on Tri bikes and the other 5% on their race bikes which would be a road bike with clips ons.  This gave you a great opportunity to get used to riding your race bike as I suspect the majority of athletes ride their road bikes a lot and perhaps have their Tri bike on the turbo trainer or ride them on sunny days but certain wouldn't ride 400 miles in 5 days on it through wind, rain and sun.  In terms of set up my bike is 8 years old but to be fair it is probably only the frame that is 8 years old.  I have Q Rings and a QuarQ Cinqo power meter, Zipp 404s and a Ultegra/Dura Ace mix - Ultegra brakes but Dura Ace derailleurs. It is starting to feel it's age and this camp and the conditions didn't do it any favours.  The 404s were fine to ride and they were the only wheel set I took with me.  The power meter died on the day we did the 200km up and over Volcano and mine wasn't the only one.  Interestingly it wasn't just the QuarQ's that were failing Powertaps were suffering too.  The extreme rain and I suspect Volcanic dust were not helping.  This of course resulted in me racing without a power meter.  However I think that my body was acting as a good limiter on performance by this stage anyway but I'd still have liked to have seen the numbers and to had a bit more control on the undulating course.  I've e mailed QuarQ so let's see how their customer service is! A lot of the guys were on P5s and some of them really suffered with integrated (read complicated!) headset problems to hydraulic brake problems where it lifts the brakes and you puncture as a result.  My creaking P2C just rode by (albeit noisily!) .

In terms of tyres both Beth and I used Schwalbe Durano Plus for the camp which are pretty much bullet proof.  Neither of us had one puncture which is  really important in a camp like this as it is not group riding as I'll describe later.  The shoulders of the road are wide but are pretty crappy and a number of people had multiple punctures which just adds time to your ride.  We switched out and put race tyres on for the 70.3 which are Continental Grand Prix TT

So in terms of the bike overall I was happy with how the set up performed on the camp and in the race but I've had it for so long I'm kind of moulded to it - well I am after this week!


 P1010145I think on a camp like this you need to make friends with yourself before you come because on the long bike days you can find yourself on your own for long periods of time.  Not only that, you need to be prepared to dig a little deeper than normal in terms of endurance; not intensity, just that ability to keep going in whatever conditions this Island throws at you.  Those conditions whilst we were here were "tropical" in terms of being warm and humid at times, windy most days and wet/really wet on occasion. As an example when we descended the 50km to Hilo from Volcano I had a base layer, cycle jersey, arm and knee warmers and a wind (slight water) proof jacket and it was torrential rain yet earlier in the day it was blue skies and very warm. You are going to get tired on Epic Camp but you really need to stay positive and keep that positive attitude.  The aid stations that were manned by the wonderful Mark Kendall, Maryanne Patton and Dave Dwan were like a oasis of hope in the distance - when you saw them and eventually got there the cheerful banter lifted the spirits no end.  NOTHING was too small for them to do as they pushed you on to the next stop - not literally however.


P1010214You need to come into this camp physically used to training daily but I don't think you need to come into it super prepared like you would do a race.  I feel that having a positive mental attitude can really help you get through the camp as many of the events are done at your own pace according to how you feel on the day. One area you need to concentrate on when on the camp is to stay on top of any niggles and endeavour to ensure you come into the camp with as few injuries as possible.  We brought a Grid Foam Roller, golf ball and a tennis ball - all of which we actually used!  Muscle sticks, massage bars, trigger balls or whatever your preferred torture devices happen to be are all good things to bring.  Both Mark and Maryanne provided massage on the camp but you can help yourself with a little stretching when you get a chance just to keep on top of that muscle tightness.  

Good hand hygiene is imperative to prevent picking up bugs and all the aid vans had sanitising gel to use prior to plunging your hands into the large vats of pretzels, cashews, almonds etc.  Keeping up a good probiotic routine and perhaps supplementation with something like colostrum if necessary will help prevent stomach upsets.

I've mentioned in another post but liberal use of chamois cream is an absolute imperative.  If you think you have enough on then put some more down there!  Sleep is pretty important too!

I feel that you will get the benefit of any training camp some 7-10 days after providing you take some down time in terms of both intensity and volume to allow yourself to absorb and adapt.  However mentally you feel like you should be doing something so you need to fight that and do some easy swims and some easy bikes for maybe a couple of hours each day just to keep the aerobic engine ticking over.


P1010092This was one area I was interested in before I got here in terms of I wondered how peoples diet would change.  My personal view is that both daily and race nutrition is very specific to that person and that what works for one will not work for another.  We came into the camp with our own particular nutritional nuances; Beth is Vegetarian/Vegan and I tend to live a lower carb higher fat diet however I suspected for me that would go out the window pretty much as you need fuel.  Beth stuck to her Vegan diet (no eggs/milk/dairy/meat/fish) but I ate more bread and rice in this week than I have in the last year.  I was not alone in this; most triathletes I know are a little bit freaky in what they eat and some of the Epic campers fitted the mould with the majority I would say living a lower carb lifestyle.  When you are hammered and presented with a burger and coke however then you'll just eat it.  The day we left Hilo, seven of us went for breakfast and Phil Paterson (Kona qualifier this year for the third time who would come 37th overall in the 70.3 at the end of the camp) had eggs, bacon, waffles, maple syrup and ice cream....for breakfast - our standing joke was that everything was Paleo so the saying was "waffles" are Paleo right?"  At the end of the day when you have cycled for 8 hours you need food.  One thing to watch (I say this having literally celebrated Phil's birthday with guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips, bacon burger and fries and some kind of huge chocolate dessert) is that after Epic Camp you need to realise that you no longer have the requirement to eat the same amount to sustain the lower  level of training.

The Epic Camp Experience

IMG_0806This has been quite the most amazing experience, it has surpassed any camp I have ever done in terms of enjoyment, rigour, volume, fun, friendship and sense of accomplishment.  Huge thanks to Coach John Newsom, Mark Kendall (Bike Mechanic and massage), Maryanne Patton (Massage and cook) and Dave Dwan (Camp "mother") and to all our fellow Epic Campers -  it would not have been the same without them. Slots for the Kona 2015 camp are open now just visit you there!






Epic Camp Day 7 - Race Day

photoSo it came to pass that after 28 hours of training logged in 6 days we awoke at 03:30 on the morning of the Honu (Turtle) Ironman 70.3.  The first thing to say is that I loved this race.  The second thing to say is that is not an easy race by any stretch of the imagination.  It's an 1.9km ocean swim off Hapuna Beach with a long uphill run to transition.  The 90km bike course is effectively half of the Ironman course and it takes you right on the Queen K before turning at Mauna Lani and riding to the turnaround at Hawi - this portion is effectively uphill and was into a head wind.  Having turned at Hawi you come down again with a tail wind and some crosswinds before climbing again out of Kawaihae and turning right on the Queen K to ride back to T2 at Mauna Lani.  The run is around a golf course and is a mix of grass and concrete and has a great many twists and turns, short downhills and tough short uphills.  It is definitely not a fast run course and the temperature on the run was extremely hot.  The organisation is slick and the aid stations are fantastic and plentiful with enthusiastic and numerous volunteers. The lead in to the race was relaxed and I (Neil) was probably the most unorganised I have been for any race but also probably the most relaxed.  Mind you at least I remembered my nutrition - unlike Beth!  I did give her one of my bottles and went and found some gels in the van - I'm all heart!  The swim course is a rectangle and the swell was low today however I got smashed in the swim up to the first and second buoy but got some clear water for the rest of the swim.  I was quite happy with my swim and felt good running into T1 I was 64th in my Age Group.  I felt pretty flat on the bike and I don't think I have been passed by quite so many people on a bike leg before; however I kept thinking that I would come good and once we turned back onto the Queen K I started to move up places and started to feel strong; I came into T2 in 40th position.  I had a slick transition but maybe too slick as I couldn't get my run cap on - the reason....I still had my helmet on!  I quickly got this off and gave it to a volunteer.  Straight away I felt good and continued to feel strong for the whole run.  I wasn't overtaken once on the run and made my way up to 12th at the finish.  All in all a hot, windy, tough day at the office but one I thoroughly enjoyed.

I (Beth) wish I could say I loved this race!  I loved the camp leading up to it - I was prepared for a different experience  and unfortunately expecting something on race day can be dangerous!  It doesn't help when you forget your one bottle of nutrition!  Swim was beautiful - crystal clear water and nice calm conditions helped- Bike... well, I don't have much to say about the bike.  Started off slow and I am sure just felt harder and harder as the day went on (jumping gears never helps on a long ride, also bar tape came unloose so I looked like some 70's Huffy riding little girl with streamers). Run didn't get going until mile 7, but after that I felt better and better as the miles ticked off.  It's a challenging race and I am sure in a few weeks I would consider doing it again.  It is also the race that has put an end to the thought of ever trying to qualify for Kona!  

After we all finished, we sat down for lunch and beer to watch the live band (with traditional Hawaiian dancers) and prize giving.  The roll down slots came and went swiftly after this with all slots being snapped up immediately.  Our last dinner at Mauna Lani was topped off with John handing out the last of camp prizes with everyone getting Epic Socks for completion of the camp.  Mary Anne had been busy all day making Leis for everyone and Mark invited us back to watch a movie of photo clips he had been taking throughout the week.  All in all a pretty good end to a fantastic week! 


Epic Camp Day 6

Epic Camp Day 6 saw the mood and emphasis change slightly with the impending race tomorrow.  It started with a short walk to a nearby beach where there was a catamaran anchored off it. Neil jokingly said that Coach John would probably make us swim out and around it 3 times - upon arrival John said "ok guys session is out and around the boat three times" - I think we are getting used to his ways!  It was a relaxed swim in fantastic clear water the whole way and after the session we did some mass starts and sighting practice. P1010170 P1010201 P1010183 P1010195

After the swim it was breakfast, if there had been ice cream Phil would have had some, with most people still eating enough for a small nation.  It is interesting to note that at the start of the camp there was a few people purporting to be Paleo/LCHF/Low Carb etc however as the camp has gone on all food is just considered fuel - waffles and maple syrup are Paleo right? After breakfast we changed bike tyres, cleaned chains etc and took a short run to registration to hand in our run bags and it was on to the ubiquitous expo to hand over our hard earned cash to WTC for branded clothing - actually have they thought of M Dot Waffles.....

Lunch was picnic style out on the grass and the afternoon was free which meant a lot of lying down and catching up on blogs etc.  We then cycled en masse to the bike drop off.  This race has a split transition with the swim and T1 being at Hapuna Beach and after the cycle up and down the Queen K you end up by Mauna Lani at Fairmont Orchard for T2 and the run around the golf course.  So it is race day tomorrow, I know I've never done this much training leading into a race as we've done 28 hours of training in the last 5 days.  Before I started I suspected that the race would feel short but there would be nothing to give in terms of effort; the evening before I feel very relaxed and it just feels like a short training day - that's one of the things Epic Camp does for you it makes a 1.9km ocean swim, a 90km bike, followed by a 21km run feel like a day off.  The other thing it does is make you very tired!!


Epic Camp Day 5

image image image image   photo     Day 5 started with great intentions - Phil, Dave, Eddie, Chris, Neil and I were to grab early breakfast at the famous Ken's Pancake House then get a nice and early start to the days 120km ride from Hilo back to Kona. Heavy showers through the night and early morning made the thought of getting on bikes again even more painful!  Avoiding the showers, we managed to pack away a lot of pancakes (coconut and blueberry) and a lot of bacon and eggs -  the challenge laid down was for someone to order the bacon and eggs, waffles and Ice Cream.  Challenge accepted, Phil managed to clean his plate - and also made it back to Kona first.  I think maybe a re-think of race nutrition is in order :)

Getting a slightly limageater start than intended, we all managed to keep the pace reasonable and slowly make our way up 90km to Waimea for a lovely picnic lunch with beautiful views.  Wearily, we ate our lunch and saddled up for the 30km descent down Mamalahoa Hwy to Queen K then a hot and humid ride to our final destination, the Mauna Lani Resort. imageimage


Of course this wouldn't be 'Epic Camp' if we only did a 120km bike! Quick change and a 3km run to race registration.  And then back in the vans for a ride to the swim venue for a quick 1km swim.  (So you can understand why this blog is a day late!!)

A good end to the day was another great dinner with great new friends.




Epic Camp Day 4

Todays fun and games started with us meeting at 06:45 for a 5k steady run followed by a 5k best effort but with no watches where you had to estimate your finish time.  I'm pleased to say that although Phil took out the race I (Neil) took out out second but more importantly the estimated time competition. Left to right we have the race briefing; then the steady first 5k; then Chris (ex US Army Special Forces and below the knee amputee) finishing. P1010150imageP1010157

After breakfast it was a great 120k bike ride in a pop out from Hilo among some great Hawaiian country roads.


Finally before dinner it was a swim session at the local pool including some "fun" events like 50m kick races and 50m all out sprints.  As usual dinner resembled a feeding frenzy.  Tomorrow we cycle off to Mauna Lani and thoughts are starting to turn to the 70.3 race on Saturday.




Epic Camp Day 3

photoDay 3 has lived up to the EPIC moniker.  At 06:15, we had a rolling start for the monster day of cycling.  From our condo in Kona, we spent the next 8 hours cycling 200km up a volcano with 1500m ascent and a run inside the volcano at the 150km mark.  This will be a short and sweet post for sure!  Neil started off with a group of 3 - within 5km, Neil was left to suffer the next 145km on his own... this gave him a lot of time to think!  And here is a snippet of what goes on in your head for 5 hours. 1. Make sure to use A Lot of chamois cream.  If you think you have enough, put another handful on.

2. Coca Cola: good when you have less than 2 hours to go.  Bad if you have 6 more hours.  

3. Cycling as hard as you can for the first hill does not bode well for the rest of the day.

4. No, your back wheel is not rubbing.

5. Pointing out hazards on the road is great - but as the day wears on, s%^t just gets run over.

6. When cycling to a place that means 'windward' or 'wet side' make sure to pack accordingly.

7. If someone is faster than you - they are faster than you... until they blow up and you pass them.

8. Fantasising about chocolate milkshakes is ok - whatever gets you through.

9. Did I mention chamois cream... really.  Get it on there!

10. You may be suffering - but you are suffering in HAWAI'I!!  Buck up!

All in all, it was a blur of emotions, but the end result was worth it as this is the view from out hotel in



Epic Camp Kona Day 2

It's a funny sport when you can call a 3k swim, 10 mile run race and 1.5 (to 4) hour bike with a 5km climb at 20% an 'easy' day! The morning started with a 1.5K handicap swim race at the pier - going by previously submitted ironman swim pb ' s, (which kind of sucked if you were Eddie and had only done IM New York with it's down stream swim in the Hudson River and therefore had a super fast split) imagewe all go in and swam for our lives (there was a significant  swell today) - then back in for a 1.5K easy swim.  Sighting was a challenge as the bouys are quite small and hard to see on a calm day.  I figured that every 4 waves was a good time to try to sight - or get a mouth full of water.

We all regrouped and had a snack before driving down the Queen K to then make our way back on foot through the faimagemous Energy Lab down the Queen K - right at Palani (10K) down to Ali'i Drive and home (another 6K).  The heat is incredible on this road, luckily we had our Epic Camp support crew handing out ice and water - gels, bars and anything else you would want.

imageA lovely lunch was prepared for us on our return - and we graciously (but not gracefully) stuffed our faces in preparation for a 45K bike ride that included a 6K 'race' to the top of a hill with gradients of about 20%.  Let me tell you - I did Not have enough gears for  this ride which will be "interesting" as tomorrow's ride includes a 50km (yes you read that right) climb up to Volcano but more about that tomorrow.

Epic Camp Kona Day 1

Epic Camp P1010130Awoke on Day 1 of Epic Camp Kona 2014 to find that the weather looked favourable for the day's festivities which started at 06:45 with the first of three groups rolling out of Bali Kai for the start of the full 112 mile bike course out along the Queen Ka'ahumanu (Queen K) Highway, from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi, normally you can be exposed to intense trade winds that buffet much of the exposed western and northern coast of the Big Island. The winds vary in intensity from steady to heavy blasts that can blow cyclists across the road. For this reason, disc wheels are not permitted in the races here. Winds may subside during the gradual climb to Hawi but pick up again as athletes make their way back to Kona.  Today Madame Pele smiled upon the Epic Campers as the winds were light, (there are several traditional legends associated with Pele in Hawaiian mythology. In addition to being recognized as the goddess of volcanoes, Pele is also known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness).  I'm not sure if she was any of those things today but she certainly was kind!The race we did two weeks ago in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex with it's 20 to 35 mph winds trained us well for today although the freezing temperatures did nothing to prepare us for the heat and humidity!  Coach John Newsom, the Epic Camp organiser, was hoping for a tough day at the office but I'm not sure anyone else shared his desire!

Our group stayed together pretty much to the turn around but gaps started to appear on the way back particularly after the climb out of Kawaihae which is a lot more steep than it looks on the television!  It is often here or on the climb up to scenic point where one of the pros puts the hammer down and the wind is often a tail wind here so there is a real opportunity to overheat.  This was prevented on Epic Camp by the wonderful Dave and Mark P1010140leap frogging the riders in the vans to provide much needed ice and all sorts of nutrition as well as words of encouragement in either a Kiwi or Texan accent respectively

After the ride there was a 7km run off the bike out to Turtle Beach and back which was completed at the ubiquitous "Ironman Shuffle" pace.  There was a couple of hours to grab some lunch, throw some stuff in the laundry before it was off again down to the pier for an ocean swim before dinner in Lava Java.  All in all a good solid training day.  Special mention has to go to our Roomie, Nadia who managed to miss the turnaround and therefore tacked on an extra 10k onto the 180k ride, as a result of her efforts she won the prize for the effort of the day as well as the "Dick of the Day" prize :-)

T Minus One

Our last day of 'freedom' before the camp starts tomorrow.  A free day which consisted of a run down Ali'i Drive to the pier for a swim with... Dragon Boat racers!  And apparently one turtle that one camper (Eddie) accidentally ran into.  Breakfast and the largest coffee ever at Lava Java - and an expedition to find a grocery store then took up most of the morning.  But we did find the time to fit in another Acai Bowl.   P1010121 - Version 2

For those of you that may not know the Ironman History, here is a quick lesson from Wikipedia :

From 1978 through 1980 the race was held on the island of Oahu, the course combining that of three events already held there: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi./185.07 km, originally a two-day event), and the Honolulu Marathon. The bike stage was reduced by 3 miles to link it to the start of the marathon course. In 1981 the race was moved to the less urbanized Big Island, keeping the distances the same: a 2.4 miles (3.86 km) open water swim in Kailua-Kona Bay, a 112 miles (180.25 km) bike ride across the Hawaiian lava desert to Hāwī and back, and a marathon (26 miles 385 yards, 42.195 km) run along the coast of the Big Island from Keauhou to Keahole Point and back to Kailua-Kona, finishing on Aliʻi Drive.

Tomorrow on the first official day of camp, we will be cycling the 112 mile Ironman course.  Then running to Turtle Beach and back.  Then an ocean swim before dinner.  Did I mention this was Day 1?!?!?





Aloha from Epic Camp Hawaii - four months ago when we decided to come do it, we couldn't have imagined how freaking awesome it is!! P1010088Coach John Newsom and I just bobbing around off the Kona Pier

The four months flew by in a whirl of great training weeks (and some decidedly poor training weeks) but before we knew it we were packing up the car with bike boxes and luggage for the start of a long day of travelling.  The flights couldn't be easier - London to LA, LA to Kona.  London to Kona passes easily through the magic of movies on demand (you can watch a lot of movies in the first 11.5 hours!).  The plan to stay on Hawaii time from LA to Kona failed miserably as both of us pretty much slept on and off for the next 5 hours.

Looking back on our first day in Hawaii, it probably couldn't be more perfect.  We were up early (05:00) to get started on bike assembly - half way through, we had to leave and meet up with the other epic campers who like us have arrived early to run down Alii Drive to the pier for a quick swim.  A quick P1010078swim WITH DOLPHINS!!  Having worked up an appetite - we stopped to get an Acaii Bowl at Snorkel Bob's.  OK, for just a second, imagine eating the most beautiful, thick, creamy berry shake... then multiply it by 100.  Then, imagine eating this shake topped with fresh fruit, granola, hemp seeds, crushed nuts drizzled with Hawaiian Honey.  I could write two more paragraphs on this alone.  With our day just starting, we finished bike assembly and rode up to Bike Works to pick up a few things that we forgot... that Neil forgot :)   Can I just say what a fantastic shop Bike Works is - All the cool stuff I cannot get in the UK is there... on the shelf.

Tomorrow is a free day (which will entail us doing a very easy 2hr ride out to Waikaloa, a 20 min run and a swim - did I mention the dolphins! and on Sunday the camp and the real work begins with us cycling the Ironman route then later in the day a swim session off the pier before dinner at Lava Java.  So for the rest of today, we sit on the Lanaii of our condo listening to the waves crashing less than 100 metres from us, writing the first blog and drinking peppermint tea.