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.
People are getting pretty tired now so we didn’t have a full turn out for this mornings swim. Those that did come along agreed to swim out and back 750m loops to the line of buoys so they could get as close to 30 minutes as possible. One camper, Russell, is now on a mission having found out he is close to the camp record for swimming. He managed 3 laps this morning and then did a follow up swim to total 5.2k for the day and bring his tally for the camp so far to 18.8k beating the old records (4.8k and 15.8k) with a day to go.
As with our old formats, the 5th day of camp is quite busy with multiple events happening to bring the camp competition to it’s close. We had been hoping to hold our Grande Final of the KOV climb comp with a time trial up the iconic Tabeyesco valley climb, but sadly this year the road is closed for maintenance. So, instead we started in the village of Haria, for a shorter run in to the ‘zig zags’. Logistically this put a little pressure in, as it meant a longer ride to get to the start. This meant a pretty rapid breakfast for most with the first group off at 9am and the last at 9:40am for the 50km ride round to the start all aiming to get there to start at noon.
Our timings worked very well with all the groups coming together for the climb up to Haria allowing us to start the TT off bang on midday. (Love it when a plan comes together!) This climb up is great fun, with the field really compressing towards the finish, and we can all see one another ahead ad behind as we tackle the switchbacks near the top. Rob had a great ride to win on handicap and gain 70 points. The handicap proved pretty accurate with 5th to 9th finishing within 34 seconds of each other, after applying the adjustment.
We regrouped at the cafe at the top of the climb for provisional results and some lunch before the fast 40km home giving everyone a 90+km ride with half an hour or so to “relax” before our 5km handicap guess your time run. All for points towards the the camp competition. We had handicapped the run off the aquathlon results, and set everyone off on handicap meaning, ‘in theory’ we should all finish together. We certainly had a few tight finishes including the final two sprinting for the line – check out Frankie & Julia’s battle !!
Jo – upholding the long standing tradition of Wonder Woman Pants – ran through the field, posting the fastest actual time and winning the race on handicap. She was the only runner under 20 minutes and as it’s the first running of our event not only does Jo get the course record but everyone that raced makes our “Hall Of Fame” which includes the top ten times.
Jo managed to place enough people between her and Rob for her to take the lead in the competition and get to wear the coveted Queen Of The Volcanoes jersey tomorrow. Unlike our other competition points can still be earned tomorrow but without some sort of mechanical it will take some effort to dislodge Jo from the top spot:
As you can see from the table, training points do contribute to the overall rankings, but the effect of these dimities as the points available for the KOV comp increases each day. So, a risky strategy from Matthew (46) and Kevin (45) who by this point have done close to 40hrs training to earn this points, seem to be fairing a little worse on the races through the week as a result. Our minimum points for camp completion is 30 ( i.e the camp cannot be won by anyone who has not logged this minimum amount of training) and we have a couple campers that now need to make a concerted effort on the final day to reach that requisite if they wish to finish the camp as a “completer”….
By this stage in the camp we have some seriously weary campers !! so.. we offered the chance of a longer ( double-point) swim for everyone…a nice relaxed start to the day. It really was worth doing as it was an exceptionally “good fish day” – an abundance of shoals of different species at differing depth and a sighting of a sting ray too. The faster group of swimmers were able to leave our usual terrain of Playa Grande and swim around to and beyond the neighbouring cove of Playa Chica, whilst the slower paced group surveyed the sea life that gathers around “the rock” and then did a little buoy sighting and beach exit/entry practice.
The scheduled standard ride was again fairly short, especially now that we have a cool “new” back roads way to get to Teguise.. with the KOV climb being a very short 1.3km but steep effort up to the Castillo which overlooks Teguise. We’ve been pretty lucky with the winds this week, unlike last year where the gusts at the tip of this exposed strip of road up the mount made the last few hundred meters very difficult (and a little hairy) …and some fast ascents were logged. The handicap is starting to come together although this type of short power-based sprint favours quite a different type of rider then a longer more gradual climb – it is also less subject to the effect of fatigue. Still , whatever the reasons we saw some close finishes which always produces a little more effort from the athletes than they actually thought that they had in them! Check out the finish line video of The McRitchie War for first to summit
Although Rob did actually beat his wife over the line, because we don’t actually start everyone actual handicap for these contests, Karen actually won that climb on handicapped adjusted time, Rob second and Jo was 3rd.
As per the standard daily format, after the KOV we all gathered for coffee/lunch and to discuss options for the rest of the day. We were keen that, rather than taking the most direct route home, those new to the Island or who’ve not ridden here a lot, get to see the Northern Shore … so the majority elected to do that with Emma and Steven taking two different paced groups that way, whilst Jo rode more directly home with Steve, Julia and Karen to give options for running ,swimming, stretching or napping.
It was quite a bonus bonus ride for emma’s group ,who were treated to a few excursions onto “new” roads…. and to our amusement the “medium” ride was actually longer by a few km than the “long” route! Frankie, Russell and Farouk did get extra ice cream treats, as well as bonus training points for this…. well, why wouldn’t you? ;o )
Having finished the “long” ride, Kevin impressed and amused us all ( and delighted Steven) by heading out for a “Edginton” run…. 14miles/22.8km. Non wetsuit, too! He might regret that in the morning, but this is exactly the spirit that we love to see on camp.
Rob’s successive strong performances on the handicap climbs in addition to training points earned for doing the longest ride option each day, have moved him to the top of the points table at the end of Day 4 – and he will sport the leaders jersey as we roll out on day 5 – and the final climb of the KOV competition. As you can see …it’s pretty close at the top of the table, and with each position on tomorrows climb worth 5 points PLUS our 5km h’capped run and guess you time comp… it’s still all to play for!
The 3rd day on camp is traditionally Aquathlon day…. a sprint distance swim/run race on the beachfront before the daytime tourists rise (and often encountering night-time tourists on their way home) – exactly what no one feels like doing with 2 long days in their legs! None the less, we had almost full house risen and ready to take on the challenge….and as ever, as soon as the starters orders were given and race day adrenaline kicked in, thew themselves into race mode! Russel impressed by winning the swim portion of the race, with Mel and Matthew hot on his heels he was passed by Matthew with a super speedy (second fastest ever) transition and Mel soon caught him within the first km or so of the 4.5km run. As each of the finishers crossed the line, the cheering crowd increased in size so that everyone was welcomed across the line in a manner that befitting of the early morning effort.
Of course the added rewards was that this short event counted for DOUBLE the daily swim and run training points with an additional bonus points, which enabled an afternoon off, after a short ride……
Through the week, campers have been reviewing the weather forecast, and pointing out that rain has been forecast for today. It very rarely rains here in Lanzarote – I’ve certainly not experienced anything more than brief showers, and know that these forecasts can change hourly and often come to nothing. We all packed shower jackets just in case.
As usual we departed as 3 groups, with time gaps such that we’d all arrive at the start of the day’s KOV event within a few minutes of each other. Today’s destination was Yaiza for the short out-and-back slope, the road gradually climbing through the village of La Degolada, before pitching up steeply and running into a gravel track on the cliffs out the back the village. A very tough finish to the climb, especially on “Aquathlon” legs, but traffic free and with great views of El Golfo and the southern volcano fields as a reward – not to mention the descent, if you like that sort of thing.
With a climb of ~10minutes, and an improved handicap to start everyone off, the finish was very close, with several of the campers being within a few seconds of one another on their handicap-adjusted times. Todays’ winner was Rob, with Julia doing very well once again and finishing second on h’cap.
We enjoyed a leisurely coffee and ice – cream stop before splitting into various ride groups for the rest of the route. We were 10minutes in when the first spots of rain fell on us… Jo’s group pulled over to put jackets on, Emma and Steven’s group both passed us, jacket free…and apparently bone dry. 500m later the rain had stopped – and the ground was bone dry! The skies really were quite fascinating , with heavy grey black clouds hovering over the volcanic peaks in one direction, contrasting with bright blue clear skies in the other. Jackets off again, Steven and Jo combined groups, down to Playa Blanca at the south point of the island, whilst Emma took Kevin, Rob and Matthew for a longer excursion. With winds blowing from the south (not typical) the long grind out of the resort was less gruelling than usual, Femes being closed to cyclists we were spared that challenge (!) and descended through Las Brenas instead. The skies were still looking pretty ominous…and moments later the heavens opened. This time it was no brief shower, and soon water was running down the roads like rivers completely changing the nature of the ride. Everyone was beginning to get cold…we split the group to enable everyone to ride home at a pace that would keep them warm, and by the most direct route. As we approach Puerto del Carmen, the rain eased, blue skies sand warmth again… Emma’s group were also back at the hotel, having escaped the rain but been able to see the storm on us and wisely decided that cutting short (at 95km) was the best bet.
This allowed everyone the opportunity either an afternoon off, or a second (bonus) run. Steve, who had been unable to ride due to a “cleat failure” made good use of his day with a 3k swim and an “Eddington” ( i.e over 22km) run.
Mel had planned to spend the afternoon on a sun lounger….and managed a full 90 seconds of bikini time before the heavens opened…and it absolutely hammered down with rain for the rest of the afternoon! This cough a few of the campers out….Lanzarote doesn’t really do rain, so doesn’t do draining – so it was fairly amusing to observe the extent of the flooding in the streets….we were thankful that no one was still out cycling in those conditions.
Standings at the end of day 3 are as above…Julia’s performance on the handicap climb has now moved her into pole position, with Steven trailing by just one point, and Jo in 3rd. With higher tariff on tomorrows climb, this could change the shape of the table dramatically …still all to play for!
Our second day of camp takes us up to the north of the island, and the longest timed hill climb of the week, from Orzola at sea level to to Mirador del Rio – gains 450m in 10km it’s a “gentle 4%” on average …although this description was contested by a few campers on account of the fact of some much steeper sections within that! Good to get it out of the way early, we think!
Potentially a pretty big day as there is no real option for a short ride route- it’s 50km to the start of the climb – in addition to swim and run for the day. Half the camp opted to do a longer swim for a bonus point …and we had quite a few putting in runs after ride – that’s 7-8hrs of training.
we had a handicap now after the El Golfo TT, so were able to set campers off at appropriate gaps, and to calculate results based on handicap adjusted times. Today’s KOV was worth 2 points per place with a maximum of 28 for Julia who came out top on handicap, Steven’s ride (the fastest outright time) was 2nd on handicap and Farouk’s 3rd earning them 26 and 24 points respectively. Despite being second fastest up the hill, Matthew’s handicap result put him 8th – though the overall camp standings consider the combination of KOV points and Training Points.
Matthew’s 24km run off the bike has put him 7 TPs clear of anyone else however bringing him level with Steven …and so he retains the leader’s jersey on Day 3
The first day on camp, as ever started with a 30 minute sea swim. There are always a few nerves about this – for most people this is the first open water swim of the year …and in a few cases, the first open water – or indeed swim of any kind – IN a year ( i.e since last camp!! ) …and of course taking this year’s campers out for the first time, the coaches are presented with a fresh set of “conditions” to consider. Fortunately the sea was perfectly smooth, the water beautiful as ever…and both groups enjoyed a relaxed and social half- hour swim. Such a lovely way to start the day.
Following breakfast the ride was a return to an old EDT camp tradition, that we dropped last year in our trials of the new “hill climbing” format – and we were surprised at how much people missed the 10 mile “sporting” TT around the El Golfo Loop. So – it’s back. Actually, it is a great way to start the week…. a gentle spin out 3 groups leaving the hotel at 10 minute intervals, and meeting for the start of the timed section after a preview lap. Winds this morning were blowing from the south – unusual and usually associated with “Calimia” – hot dusty air blowing over from the Sahara. It certainly felt warm with a tailwind on our backs riding out of town.
Everyone put in solid efforts of our “scratch” race – although the times achieved today demonstrate that these winds were NOT favourable for this route… Matthew’s winning time of 30:04 would have ranked him 17th in 2014, and well outside the top 10 all time results. To be fair, that course has been ridden by enough participants on enough camps now, many of which were raced on “good wind” days, to make an all time top 10 ranking quite an achievement.
Provisional results were read over coffee, ice-cream and enormous slices of tortilla, before splitting into groups to continue the day on bikes according to the extra distance that people wanted. This year’s camp scoring system not only takes in to consideration points for positions in the handicapped KOV climbs, but also the accumulation of Training Points through the week. Day 1 seemed like a good chance to get a few under the belt early, whilst our legs are fresh… and following a few tactical discussions, we split with one o two heading directly home on the “standard” (3 point) ride, the majority opting for a single-point extension for ~100km and Emma took Matthew and Rob for a longer route to gain a further training point…
The standard run off the bike is 30 minutes, Steven and Jo lead a small group for an out and back along the seafront, whilst others elected to run solo at their own pace. Lots of Sunday afternoon fiesta activity to distract and entertain us …certainly pretty warm at that time of day…and then an hour or so to relax before pre dinner beers and day review.
The standings at the end of day one favour the faster rider – as we have not yet established handicap for the first ( scratch) event…so Matthew, always a big volume trainer AND one of the stronger riders on any of our camps …leads the table and wears the jersey on day 2.
As mentioned in previous posts, this year was a trial of a new format for a camp following seven years of a very successful high-volume swim/bike/run format, but with what we felt was a diminishing “completition” rate. Thinking that the change in format might make these camps more accessible to atheletes with less endurance history or a cycle only focus, we are also concious that the compulsary daily swims and runs may be a deterrant for athletes carrying injuries that prevent running …..so it was time to change it a little both in format, and also the location. Continue reading →
In all our previous camps we’ve made the last day a big day out for everyone with at least the full Ironman route being a requirement for completion. With the change in format we’d decided to alter the final day. Instead we made Thursday a hard day with two TTs and then our idea for the last day was to have the grand finale TT, then get together at the top of Haria for provisional results over lunch all together, before heading back for a more relaxed final day. We had certainly mis-judged the sort of athlete that comes on our camps! Continue reading →