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Epic Camp Epilogue

Wow wow wow  what an incredible camp we experienced in France. Almost everything went to plan with great weather, mind blowing scenery, scrumptious French food, high quality accommodation, hospitable motorists……and a great bunch of athletes.

After this camp we are fitter and stronger than before but the biggest arsenal for the athletes to add to their toolbox is how to better deal with adversity. Our camp athlete now need to think how they can implement these learnings into racing and potentially other aspects of life. If you listen into IMTalk with the post camp chats every athlete had to face some serious demons out there, get over those hurdles and make it to the end of the day, a lot of athletes had some very very dark moments. Then for 11 days they needed to get up again and back it up.

Our opening day climbing Mont Ventoux was the perfect wake up call for everyone on how tough our schedule was going to be. Backing that up on day 5 was the brutal day including the Col D’iseran. A number of athletes arrived at the base of a 20km+ climb completely smoked but they had to figure out a way up. Let’s remember these are Kona standard athletes not your middle or back of the pack weekend warriors. It was brilliant to see the determination and fight amongst the group which helped inspire each other. JB rolled in at 8pm that night after our day started our day at 6am!

I had a number of goals for the camp but first and foremost my objective is to ensure everyone else is having a good time and have what they need. Our awesome support crew of Julie & Ian from Pyrenees Multisport along with Oli Jenner & Tim Piggott made my life so much easier.

I tried to list what I would have changed on this camp and couldn’t come up with too much. The only change I would have made would be:


  • making it 100% mandatory to have a garmin 800/810 for the best possible mapping & guidance
  • more strongly encouraging smaller gearing. I spent a huge amount of time in my 34:28!


As far as my athletic endeavors/goals. I came home super strong in the final 4-5 days as did other athletes I coach. For me I think part of this was delayed acclimatization to the heat and altitude along with my GI tract giving me some issues. The Tri we did on day 8, the climbs of Colombiere and Ramaz along with the 10km on day 10 felt awesome which is hard to believe given what we had been through prior.  The satisfaction I got from those days, along with my birthday epic, far outweighed where I finished on the points table.

This camp was the first without Scott (last camp was Canada 2014) or Gordo (last camp length of NZ) so it is down to me to ensure standards and traditions are upheld. By and large I think I did a pretty good job leading by examples. Epic Camp is so much more than just going and riding your bike. Whilst I didn’t leave with the yellow jersey I did leave with my dignity. My birthday training extravaganza was a real highlight that there is still life in my body. If I can stay in shape and make it to Roth next year I’d like to think that my time might start with an 8.

A bit of summary of the camp crew for France 2016

Phil Paterson – for a former top junior cycling fanatic is was awesome to get Phil to Europe and experience the many Cols he has seen so many times over on TV. Much like the other athletes from Christchurch Phil came home strong towards the end of the camp. He also wins the most daring attack when he tried to go on a solo breakaway less than 1km into one of the hardest days over the Izoard and Lautaret. As a second reward Phil cracked the 100km/hr barrier on a descent which is no mean feat.

Glenn Olsen – big Glenn was a sleeping giant on this camp. In Canada we saw his brut force on the flat lands but there was next to no flat on this camp. I was impressed that Glenn kept plugging away day after day over the big climbs.

Adam Krzesinski – Adam showed us the way up many of the climbs in the first half of the camp and won the final day tri fair and square.

John Ballard – awarded by Molina as the best blogger on the camp JB looked exactly like he did in France. Those that did not know him thought he would blow up at any stage but those that were in Canada knew that looks can be deceiving. There was one day JB exploded but that seemed to be the catalyst to come home incredibly strongly in the final days with brilliant climbing and racing performances.

Lou DiGuiseppe – Lou is the heart and soul of epic camp and adds so much value to everyone’s camp without realizing it. Every day Lou would ensure he upheld his epic standards including the 100x100 on 1:45. Now into his 50’s I hope we see Lou back again.

Julian Stockwell – after sharing a room pre camp with Jules I felt somewhat responsible for him getting sick after my snoring probably kept him awake pre camp. Much like Phil, Jules lives and breaths TDF so if you wanted a question answer on TDF he would know it. He also gave out a few good lessons on how to descend properly.

Iain Wood – the sandbagger extraordinaire was humbled with some sickness but showed his metal at Alpe D’Huez with 4th place on the hill climb and I think 4th on the run too. I think we would have seen a bit more on the climbs had we had a 100% healthy Iain on board. 

Peter Mills – this 50 year old kicked my butt on a couple of climbs which was impressive to see. Sometimes I wish we had some time on these camps to check out technique because if I could do something to help Peters swim he would be a complete weapon. It was great to see Peter pushing just the right amount for the red jersey (50+) without compromising his upcoming IM.

Murray Lapworth – the holy hammer put his hammer to the other red jersey contenders. As we sat up at Alpe D’Huez pounding down burgers and pizza Murray ran up and down the street past the café clocking up a 2hr run. Not the smartest move the day before our toughest ride of the camp but he was doing exactly what I said. Just take each day one at a time and discregard what is coming up. Murray was a worthy winner of the red jersey.

Chrissie Mckinlay – starting epic camp with a cold is not good but Chrissie battled her way through and someone managed to rid herself of the sickness. It was impressive to see her running so hard at the events in the battle of the girls grupetto.

Zarnia Morrison – a new nickname was found for Zarnia on this camp l'escargot francais de la Montagne for her uncanny descending. I was gutted when Zarnia got sick and was unable to complete the final day triathlon as she had battled so bravely all camp.

Di Kaltenegger – super mom was our oldest ever epic camper but she certainly didn’t look it! Di got the Bellwether bike jersey award on day one for coming out of the freezing Mediterranean waters with a smile on her face having loved the rough start to the camp. She followed that up day after day and never showed any signs of weariness despite getting the lurgie off the other girls.

Stefan Dooney – not being able to swim due to a shoulder operation meant camp completion was off the table from day one which must have been hard to take. I enjoyed hearing how Stefan, as a financial advisor, sees the value in life experiences like epic camp and puts that into his wisdom to clients. Epic camp is more than just going training, it’s about seeing some amazing parts of the world, competing and enjoying the company of likeminded nut jobs.

Shannon Proffit – I can’t say enough about how much of a legend Shannon is going uphill (as well as dragging my sorry butt through a few swims). When I started to feel really good on the climbs towards the end of the camp she still showed me up a few times. I loved that she is now the Queen of the Mountains on Strava on the 1st category climb of Col de la Colombiere (by ~2.5mins). 

Andrew Charles – Charlsey is not in the same sort of shape he was in the good old days but his regaling of past camps and stories should be worth bonus points. It was great to see Chaelsey find his mojo in the closing days of the camp with tacks on’s galore and a strong showing in the final day tri.

Michael Turner – injuries suck and poor Titch was battling with a calf strain all the way through camp. In fine epic spirit when he couldn’t be patched up by our support crew titch would get out power walking so as to not miss any of the action.

Jen Macrow – joining her husband Titch on this camp Jen did not know quite what she was getting herself in for. Jen showed some impressive strength on the bike on many occasions and I look forward to seeing her guts when she looses her ironman virginity.

Rob Mohr – with the imtalk nickname of Rob “give me” Mohr, Rob certainly gave it more whenever a race presented itself. He drilled the runs and looked as fast as anyone I’ve ever seen running on Epic Camp – impressive!

Walter McCormack – for a big guy Walters’ climbing ability was bloody impressive. Had this camp included more flat riding I fear that Walter would have ripped us to shreds. It was a real shame that his fall at ADH meant he could not complete all the sessions. I look forward to seeing Walter tear it up in Kona.

Ben Moore – Ben had perhaps one of the most disciplined camps I’ve ever seen. He had his plan from the outset and stuck to it. That’s perhaps why he was one of the most accomplished athletes on the camp when it comes to race performances, he just gets the job done.


So where to for Epic Camp from here? I plan/hope to put on an Epic Camp every 2nd year with other camps thrown in the mix

  • 2017 – Kona Epic Camp Lite (incorporating Kona 70.3). This is still a challenging camp but is open for athletes of all abilities up to ~14hrs IM. There is usually a mix of athletes and we have a great time touring the Big Island.
  • 2017 – Camp Kia Kaha with imtalk incorporating Challenge Roth. This is going to be a bit of a tour plus smashing the race
  • 2018 – my provisional plan is a Pyrenees Traverse.
  • 2020 – I’m open to suggestions but I’ve love to head back to Italy. 

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