Professional Ironman Triathlete

Friday, 11 January 2008

EPIC CAMP NZ 2008 : The calm before the storm

Epic Camp is a triathlon training camp with a difference. Unlike most, there are entrance criteria to ensure no one ends up “tailing off the back in misery”. It is an incredibly high volume training camp which most attendees use as pre-season volume training for Ironman racing, or in a high volume phase in the run-up to a specific IM race. With around 50 – 60 hours of training in the first week, it is not for the faint-hearted!

This will be my second time on the camp, having done Epic New Zealnad ’07 in January last year. Signing up for the second round was easier given the knowledge that I had successfully finished it already. But now, two weeks out, though I am less anxious about the general unknowns, I have the same feeling of dread that I should have done more bike volume over the last few months…

But for me that is one of the points of Epic. It gives me some fear over the winter months to ensure that I get in good enough shape to try to make the most of Epic. It is about improving my biking in the run-up to Epic and then being submerged in a unique environment where it is possible to achieve a period of massive mileage relative to the rest of the year. Last time it was about survival. This time my objective has changed little – if anything, I’ll be a little more cautious! I’m starting to think that ignorance of what the camp entailed was better than knowing what we are about to do.

The camps are run by Scott Molina (IM World Champion, coach), Gordo Byrn (Ultraman Winner and Elite IM athlete, coach) and John Newsom of IronmanTalk fame (Elite triathlete and coach). Epic’s stated purpose is to “provide elite and amateur athletes with an environment within which they can achieve personal excellence”. This is done in part by having a fantastic support crew who do nearly everything for you – cook, wash clothes, transport luggage – except the training itself. The camp includes “everything but mercy”. A points system pushes everyone to put in massive volumes each day. The camp minimums to score are a 3km swim, a 10km run and the scheduled ride each day, and bonus points are available for every 3km extra in the pool, extra 10km running, and extra 30km on the bike. Yet more points can be earned by hitting other distance thresholds and doing other activities (swimming with bands, or 1km swum as medley for example). It all adds up to a group of people doing some incredible mileage, and perhaps more unbelievably, having a great time along the way.

This year’s camp will start in Christchurch on 26th January. From there we’ll make our way over towards Wanaka via Tekapo, then across to Queenstown. The route will take in the great Southern lakes, Mackenzie Country and the Queenstown area - regarded as some of the most spectacular scenery in NZ. So at least it will be pretty! I’ll be trying to post an update on how the camp’s going every few days – if I am able to stay awake long enough!

For more information on Epic Camp, go to

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