For the last 8 years, initially by design of the camp requiring it for “completion” and then, last year on our trial run of a new more flexible format, by request of the campers, the main focus of the final day in camp is to ride the Ironman Lanzarote course. The official route of this has actually been through several slight variations during the course of those years, with a significant change made to in last year. But, in our opinion, the original course was one of the best Ironman bike routes on the circuit, a single lap giving athletes the opportunity to do an almost full circuit of the island. There are a few little sections that this 180km route misses, so the EverydayTraining IronmanPlus route takes in Femes and then Playa Blanca early in the ride, and drops into Orzola in the latter stages. This adds an extra 20km, and provides a big ride for those who are able to ride at a fast enough pace to complete in the time we have available – with is usually a small group lead by Steven, and invariably including Mel and Matthew. This year with a smaller camp, it was just those 3.. making for a pretty efficient day. Obviously, the smaller the group size the less risk of punctures, mechanicals, leg failure, or a “bonk”, …. though 3 is probably the minimum that would provide the benefit of riding in a group and sharing the work.
The rest of us would be riding the standard route – with the exclusion of the initial 8km at the start, which sends cyclists out of town and onto the highway. Not a very pleasant stretch of road to ride when traffic is on it… and it buys us a little extra time in the day by missing this.
We ride as two groups- a slower paced group, expertly supported through the day by Emma, and this group every year will have at least one camper who has never ridden 100miles before, and certainly not considered attempting it at the end of such a heavy week of training! This year’s 100mile newbie was Frankie – a first timer on camp and as an athlete focused on sprint distance triathlon, duathlon and swim-run events has already tripled her usual weekly training volume before even starting the day! Again, Emma’s group was just 3 of them, which made communication very easy …they were able to pace and support each other and even had time for a sit-down lunch in Haria, by being generally efficient and keeping rolling round at a steady pace through the day.
It’s always a bit of a joke that Jo’s medium -pace standard ironman group aren’t allowed sit-down cafe stops… so we get a slightly more relaxed roll out time and are invariably the first group to return back to the hotel at the end of the day. There is always room for negotiation on this, I assure you, but also this group tends to have a couple of riders who plan to run off the bike and are happy to go with the “garage stops” as necessary plan.
The weather conditions this year were perfect… cool with very light winds from a mostly favourable direction… and all groups made great time around the routes – passing each other several times through the day, either on the road, or riding by and giving a wave to those sitting in one of the cafe stops on the route. Of course, it’s a tough day, everyone goes through few bad ‘moments’…either dropping off the back a bit or being grumpy. But by this stage on the camp, everyone has formed a feeling of camaraderie, and are able to help one another along, so this is laughed off and provides some amusing stories in the bar later in the evening.
Karen, who at the start of the day was borderline for camp completion and needed 8 points to reach the minimum TPs required – ( i.e 3 more than the Ironman Bike ride), had calculated that the best way to earn these was with a 3hrs run. Which, she duly did! …gaining another Eddington Number, camp completion and a lot of kudos from everyone.
We wrap up the long day by announcing the final camp standings and awarding the King of the Volcanoes Camp Winners jersey to Rob (so, now he and Karen, who took last year’s, can go out in matching outfits!) . Steven gave us a few training stats and will post all of this in a later blog – but concluding that the combination of etc handicapped hill climbs with the Training Points system was a format that whilst enabling flexibility for athletes to focus more on their preferred training areas and get away with doing less in other disciplines did provide good incentive to train more and in fact a high proportion of the camp participated in every session that was on offer, which is another factor that helps in bringing everyone together as a bonded group.