King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 6

As ever, the last day on camp is all about the long ride. Traditionally, it has been to ride a full lap of the Ironman Bike Course. Due to various course changes over the years and the creation of newly surfaced and safer back roads around parts of the island that now have a lot more traffic than they did 10 years ago, we have created a route that combines most of the current Ironman bike route with parts of the original, for a 175km lap of the island.

As ever, we have a couple of campers who had never actually ridden over 100mile before – and Emma and Tarril had probably not envisaged that their first “ton” would be ridden after 5 hard days of training in their legs, with 2550m of ascent and this wind! However Emma is an absolute expert at motivating people though this challenging day at a comfortable pace, focus on eating and drinking and keeping morale up during the tough patches – so even if there was any doubt in their mind that they would complete this ride, there really wasn’t in ours.

For some, 175km is not a sufficiently challenging distance to round off a big week – and so we added25km worth of extra to the route, which Steven leads the stronger riders round on the last day. Again, this is usually a challenge of team work, keeping the pace sensible and calorie intake up ..working a s team with the stronger guys looking after the “ambitious” ones for much of the day.

My own day is alway the easiest, I think – not sure how that happens ;o) – with a medium paced group wanting to ride the standard iron (ish) distance at a steady pace with minimal stops. Usually this is a group of similarly matched riders and we work together taking turns to take the wind or take a break in the group through the day as we each got through spells of feeling good, or not.

The weather was a little overcast and slightly cooler today, thankfully, but it happened to be the windiest day that we have had all week. Not strong by Lanzarote standards, but certainly noticeable. Coming from a slightly odd direction, it was not mostly side wind however and still delivered a pretty swift tailwind on the final 1/3rd of the day.

All 3 groups had a good day out, and arrived back at the hotel between 5:20 and 6:20pm – giving everyone a bit of spare time to pack bikes before dinner. Phil completed the ride with Emma (or rather with Emma’s back wheel!!), and so retains his status as King of the Volcanoes. The table below shows final positions, which has changed slightly due to the fact that those who “complete” the camp with 30 Training Points are ranked above those who did not, regardless of points earned in the KOV climbing challenge. So, Kevin was second and Russell 3rd, with Matthew, Roz and Andy all completing this year’s camp.

It’s fair to say that, had the aquathlon swim leg not been called off, or the stock market been in crisis on Monday in response to escalating Coronavirus news, then Lance Emma and Andreas would also have completed the camp. Regardless – everyone has been tremendous this year, great attitudes all round and a really fun group of athletes to train and socialise with. We agreed that it was one of the most enjoyable camps that we have done ( do we always say this?!) despite significant distraction of the developing news that has effected most of our personal or work lives during the last 6 days.

We wish everyone a safe journey home, and recommend a focused recovery week: very light expertise, plenty of sleep, good healthy diet and avoiding exposure to infections (of any type, not just the most obvious) …with good recovery in a couple of week you will really see the fitness you have gained out here!

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King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 5

Enjoyable group swim, we kept it a brief lap (a “coaches half hour”) and as one group – to the buoys, rocks and back to shore in order to be in breakfast promptly and departing soon after 9 on the bikes. The last day of competition on camp is a busy one!

It has been very warm all week – and this has made the going a bit tough on some of the longer ride days- it’s quite a contrast for those who have arrived only 5 days ago from the cold wet UK. (On the plus side, we have been extremely lucky with the winds – as light as I have known then in Lanzarote, and it’s rare for that to last a full week on camp!) The ride included a 55km ride out, and to be honest one two of my group were suffering /sandbagging on the last hill up into Haria. Our 3 ride groups, met in the town of Haria for a quick fill of cold drink ( ok, the faster group may have had a more leisurely coffee there!) before assembling for the start of the final timed KOV climb.

The handicap gaps are now pretty accurate after a week of adjustments – and this final race carries 5 points per place – so all to play for today! Due to the famed Tabeyasco valley road being ( permanently?) closed to road repairs, we have had to modify the route of the last climb to a shorter version starting in Haria, but does include the switchbacks at the top as the road winds up to the highest road pass on the island, at Mirdor de Haria.

After lunch in the tourist cafe at the top, Steven worked out the provisional times, and then we all “rolled’ home the most direct route, in order to prepare for the early anticipate (haha) 5km run race that afternoon.

So eagerly anticipated was it that Steven and I had to do a serious amount of persuasion in the direction of the “Taunton Gang” to get them to take part – which, happily, most of them succumbed to! It’s a tough week on camp, and at that time on the penultimate day racing 5km in the heat after a 100km ride isn’t the most appealing idea for most people!

In fact, most doubt their ability to even manage to race – this is where Steven’s concept of Guess Your Time comes from. We ask campers to estimate their run time, and then run without a watch (or tape the face of it).

We start everyone on exact handicap, taken from Tuesday’s aqauthlon run, and this almost always results in much faster running than anyone guesses that they are capable of! More experienced campers have got wise to this…but even so everyone over estimated the time it would take them to get around the two-lap 5km race, when there are “targets” to chase ( or avoid being chased down by).

First across the line today was Andreas, Jo narrowly missing out on catching him before the finish. Followed in by Jo and then Matthew…unfortunately for Andreas, it transpired that he had followed when Russell accidentally cut the route short by about 300m on the first lap, and so his real finish time and order would have been somewhat further back…the results below for him and Russell have been adjusted to reflect this.

The final KOV points scores are now only effected by the Training Points that people get tomorrow, which is the long ride day. We give 5pts for the “Ironman route” and +1 point for each additional 10km…which really is only an option for our faster ride group, on account of the time available. It would be impossible for anyone to gain enough training to pass Phil now, as long as he completes the long ride, he will take the jersey home with him :o)

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King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 4

After a quick prep dip to check that the coast was clear of jellies, which remarkably it was … the group had the option for a longer swim this morning, around to the adjacent beach of Playa Chica. It was (another) beautiful morning ,and everyone was so please to be able to enjoy the ocean without any sightings of the little stingers!

Today’s itinerary is a completely new route new climb and we have included a new brick run route – whilst much of the camp familiar year on year, there is always always to more to discover on the island and new training ideas! A lot of resurfacing of the minor roads which would have previously been unridable dirt tracks has improved our ride routes, and opened up some new views of the island too.

So, today’s climb has been named ‘secret cove” …dropping down the long smooth road to the quiet beach of Tenesar, where the road runs out. The ride down seemed such a ling way, and was into the wind – actually most agreed that with todays tail wind conditions, the climb was not really “all that bad” and as ever gave surprisingly convincing efforts considering how tired everyone must be feeling by now!!

once again there were c=some close finishing times, and even closer results on handicap- demonstrating that the handicapping calculation is pretty good – although each of our races is slightly different in nature. Todays climb, for example, starts reasonably steep but then rolls out into a 3km ‘false flat”, suiting the riders on TT bikes or those who are not out and out “climbers” well.

The next new feature of the day was the introduction of a brick run around the volcanoes. Following coffees, we rode into the National Park, to meet Rachel had kindly driven our run kit and kept watch on the bikes for an hour.

There were options of a one volcano, or two volcanoes, laps.. and everyone enjoyed the opportunity of a unique off road run with some very interesting features.

Standings after days 4 – and things have swung …with Kevin surging ahead on account of a great climb today ,and never having missed a single training opportunity! Phil is very close in second place, and only needs one position on tomorrows climb to jump ahead of Kev…. and in fact any of us in the top half of the table could, in theory still come out on top after the Final KOV and the 5k run tomorrow.

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King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 3

Day 3 on camp always starts with our Aquathlon competition – extra points are awarded for participation, with a few teams of non-runners paired with non-swimmers in order that everyone is able to take part. This morning’s swim was cancelled due to jellyfish sighting ( which is an understatement – actually Steven “found” a jellyfish with his face within moments of getting in the sea to place the turbo buoy) so the race was reduced to a 4.5km run.

To keep some sort of multi- sport element, we started the race at the waters edge, in wetsuits, so that there would also be a Transition split recorded as part of the race. it was definitely less exciting race in this format, with people putting less effort in. Perhaps the lack of warm up, or more likely it had been pre determined who the faster runners are and less feeling of the string swimmers being chased down, or runners having to chase and close a gap to them. Notably Emma and Russel chose to run together – they are evenly matched pool swimmers, who train together at home, and I believe it would have been very competitive between the two of them had we been able to include the 500m swim.

Today’s hill climb was an out and back on the road from Yaiza to Degollada. It is a relative short ride out, so we had a relaxed start time, and socially paced ride out. People’s are definitely starting to feel the effect of the previous couple of days, and this mornings run race … and the description of this hill wasn’t exactly met with all round smiles!!

The climb starts very gradual, almost a false flat for the first 1.5-2km, and then kicks up to about 15% …. eases off briefly and then kicks a second time to what we estimate must be close to 20%. It has been known for people to simply give up and get off their bikes as they see the final bit of road tip upwards … but happily not so today! The extreme effort involved in getting over this last brow always provides some entertaining chat on the finish line … and today’s head wind on the flatter section really made matters worse.

Times for this year were remarkably slower than previous years due to the wind direction … but our results were all very close – and when the handicap adjustment is applied, you can see from the table of results below that it was extremely close completion with many riders finishing within seconds of one another!

Following this effort we headed to the cafe to compare tales, consume caffeine and work out provisional results …and discuss plans for the rest of the ride. There was a general consensus that a shorter day on the bike was preferred and we reduced the planed rides slightly, and those riding with Emma added in a few extra touristic stops around El Golfo, which is a particularly beautiful and interesting part of the island. Even Jo’s group had a leisurely stop in a gallery shop for homemade lemonade that they serve in the cafe… and everyone was back at their hotel by about 3pm for a recovery afternoon. Half way guys!! ;o)

Standings after days 3 – where each position on handicap was worth 3 points are below – Training Points reflect the amount f swimming, cycling and running that each camp has done so far ( i.e choosing the longer ride option, or doing a longer or second run or swim would earn an extra point for the day )

Rachel felt a little awkward to receive the Leaders Jersey on account of her Massive Asterisks (running joke)… but is was agreed fair enough , since the advantage of the electric motor in her bike should soon be balanced out through them handicapping system – she will be set off last on timorous climb – and it is great to have her out with us on longer rides than she would otherwise manage.

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King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 2

The first good news for the day is that the sea was clear of jellyfish! So everyone was able to enjoy one, or two, laps sea swim before breakfast.

Today’s ride is one of the longer days, as we head to the North East of the island to tackling ( Time Trial up!) then longest climb on Lanzarote. we rode there as 3 groups, as usual .. the staggered start intended to mean that we all reached the destination within a short time of each other. Things didn’t quite go as panned in that regard, but groups 2 and 3 were more than content to enjoy a long break for ice creamed cold drinks. especially as Marriane Vos and a team mate also stooped by for a refuel!

Starting order today were seeded off yesterday’s race – with the fastest riders last off, trying to catch the slower ones on the road. The system works pretty well in general.. although the 9.5km ascent doesn’t necessarily play to the strength of those who were fats around yesterdays’ rolling TT course.. Steven and I enjoy this fact a little, we have to admit!

We all enjoyed the fact that Rachel, assisted by an E-Bike, was able to ride through the entire field – passing Vos and Tenniglo on her way up – and set a record time for that particular hill climb! Obviously this places a massive Asterix next to her name in the record tables, but is all being taken in very good spirits, and it is really nice that this battery intervention is enabling Rachel to join us on much longer rides and see more of the island than she would otherwise.

The table shows actual time, handicap adjusted time ( which is the important bit) and points earned.

In addition to the KOV climbs competition, we attribute points for training (Training Points ) and so at the end of day 2 the camp competition looks like this :

Most people left the lunch stop en route for a lightly longer ride than the “standard” way home.. and few people ran after 130km today – excepted Kevin and Matthew, room mates and now seem to be solid running ( and drinking!) buddies for the camp.

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King of the Volcanoes Camp 2020 – Day 1

Jelly fish interrupted our first morning swim somewhat… at first there seemed just a few of the pretty little red floaters, but as we swam further along the bay, we encountered them in greater numbers. No one really likes to swim into something in the water, and some people really were quite uncomfortable with it – they do sting too – so most of us cut the swim short. It’s a real shame because we always so enjoy how blown away all the new arrivals are by the beautiful water here on their first morning swim of camp. No jellies had been spotted during our pre camp swims, so we are hoping it’s a one-off…

After breakfast we rode out to El Golfo as 2 groups – a faster group and a larger steady paced group. The timings worked very well and having given us a 15 minute head start, Steven and co arrived at the meet point for the start of the time trial less than a minute after us.

As ever, the starting order for the first of our timed bike sections is a bit of a thumb-suck – though many of our campers have raced each other the course on previous camps .. we give a reasonable guess, and 30 second intervals. The wind conditions were fairly typical, and this is demonstrated in the camper’s times being a pretty typical spread. Actual times are below ( there is no Handicap Adjustment on Day 1).. Notable results here are Matthews’ PB and Roz’s fantastic 4th fastest time puts her in the ladies Hall of Fame for this course. What does stand out here is that all of the women who have ridden that course faster, did so in 2014 – a year where the winds were light and also blowing from the “wrong” direction resulting in many very fast rides. Roz and Matthew beat their own times from even that year !

I should add that Kevin’s time includes a puncture, which according to Strava, took about 14 mins to fix.

After the racing was done …everyone was feeling the we convened in a cafe for a leisurely rest stop, before continuing our tour over Fire Mountain (and beyond). It was feeling a fair bit hotter than of late day, and of course people are yet to acclimatise to the sun, so after 95km most of us were feeling a little toasted. Most people therefore decided either to skip an afternoon run, or go a bit later after a dip in the pool – after all everyone had already earned extra Training Points for doing the extended ride route.

I took Phil out for a 30 min jog, which built pace to a run, before ending the most comical cramping episode … he made a full recovery, but not before treating passing holiday makers to a full display of funny walks and pained groaning sounds!

At the end of day 1, combined Training Points and KOV points look like this, with Matthew in the Leader’s Jersey on day 2.

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King Of The Volcanoes Camp, Lanzarote 2020…is GO!

Welcoming our camp athletes to the island. Some familiar faces return, some new recruits for 2020.

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King Of The Volcanoes 2019 – Wrap Up

This year we tweaked the experimental format we had last year based on the feedback we got from last years campers. This resulted in the following changes / additions to the format:

  • We introduced the Training Points system to reward training that had previously been left as optional (and hence, rarely undertaken!)
  • Completion was now purely based on attaining 30 Training Points (TPs) in the week. It did not actually require doing any of the races.
  • Bonus points were awarded for participation in the aquathlon race to encourage participation
  • We removed the KOV time trial final from the last day so that people could enjoy the long ride!
  • We re-instated the El Golfo time trial on the first day of camp.
  • We re-instated the handicap, no watch, guess your time run race on the 5th day, although we shortened it to 5k. This proved to be less painful/more fun and almost everyone opted to take part.
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King Of The Volcanoes Camp 2019, Day 6

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.

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King Of The Volcanoes Camp Day 5

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”….

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