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If you’re a few weeks or months on from your Ironman A-race and the post-race blues have got you feeling down, you’re probably not alone. Perhaps you’re a multiple-Ironman finisher or Kona alumnus? Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum, if you feel like you’ve reached the pinnacle of your triathlon career, think again. It’s time to talk Ultraman.
Ultraman is a three-day stage triathlon, comprised of a 10km swim and 140km bike (Day 1); 281.1km bike (Day 2) and 84.3km run (Day 3). Each day has a cut off time of 12 hours. Unlike Ironman, participants do not have event support and therefore must provide their own support crew (with at least two land-members), including their own swim escort to accompany them during the entire swim portion of the event.
The inaugural Ultraman was held on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1983. From its humble beginnings with just three participants, Ultraman races are now held in various locations throughout the world including Brazil, Canada, Spain, Israel, the USA and in Noosa, Australia.
In recent years, interest in Ultraman has gained momentum, however participant numbers for each event are capped at 50, and prospective athletes must apply for a slot. Athletes from all walks of life and athletic backgrounds are attracted to this unique stage-race – from professional triathletes to weekend warriors and everyone in between.
Given Ultraman Australia 2019 wrapped up recently, you may have (possibly briefly) contemplated whether you have what it takes to step up and take on this epic endurance challenge. So, who better to put your reservations at bay than our own T:Zero Head Coach, current Ultraman World Champion and Ultraman World Record holder Richard Thompson? Not only is Coach Rich an Ultraman specialist in his own right, but Richard and T:Zero Multisport have coached a number of athletes worldwide to achieve their own Ultraman success, including five Ultraman Australia podium place-getters. When it comes to all things Ultraman, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more qualified contributor.
We recently asked Coach Rich a few common questions that may have crossed the minds of prospective Ultraman athletes…
Q: What makes Ultraman unique or different to anything an athlete may have done before?
Q: What are the special aspects of training for an Ultraman that athletes may not have considered?
The answer lies with athletes who have done their “Ironman thing” or who have already completed another form of long-course/ultra-endurance event and are looking for their next challenge.
Stage racing is an incredibly awesome event and a challenging but equally rewarding journey to train for. Ultraman presents as an option for those athletes who are tired of Ironman or perhaps those who have achieved or resolved to set aside their Hawaii aspirations. Ultraman is the next level of seeing what is possible and what you are capable of achieving.
When everyone started Ironman (for the people who’ve been in the sport for a while) there was that lure in being genuinely uncertain about whether you could actually DO an Ironman. Now that this has become achievable for many more people, Ultraman becomes the next step – the opportunity to start a new journey not knowing whether you’re going to be able to go the distance. A new challenge.
Q: What are the common misconceptions about Ultraman that may deter prospective athletes?
So, there you have it. The seed has been planted.
Ultraman Australia 2020? Challenge accepted! Superb … follow us this way.
If you think you’re up for the challenge or just curious to know more, get in touch with T:Zero Multisport and let us help you reach your next level and #liveyourpotential
Coach Rich says he is a bit of a bad influence when it comes to setting the bar with races. And he’s right. Watching my work friend Dave Kalinowski and Richard do Ultraman had certainly lit a tiny little fire in me deep down, and I knew I would love to do Ultraman, but I would never have suggested it. Partly because it seemed laughable. And partly because I just couldn’t get my head around running a double marathon. Also because I would never have put my hand up for a goal I wasn’t sure I could achieve!
So, when I sat down after my first IM and said “You see my data. What should I do next?” and Richard said, “Have you ever thought about doing Ultraman?” it was probably like throwing accelerant on that little ember! I muttered about the double marathon and he assured me that he knew I could do this race. Yes – he is undoubtedly a bad influence. But without that influence I would have missed out on an amazing and life changing race that must surely have been the athletic highlight of my life!
I thought about doing a traditional race report, but nobody needs to hear the blow by blow about how much I swore when I found I had no gears on day 2, or how I nearly threw up my gel at the 70km mark of the run, so this is more about the things that I think were critical to success in the event and the ways in which it changed me.
So now I just need to realise that it is done. It wasn’t just another big long training weekend (where Steve Foster helped me down the stairs onto the boardwalk at the end – OMG major fan moment!) but the real thing. I achieved what I set out to do. I am an Ultraman. It’s just taking a really long time to sink in. I quietly went back to swim squad this morning, and when I poked my head up at the end of my first 100m the whole squad was clapping because Codie (Grimsey) had told them what I had done. Embarrassing! Nup – still hasn’t sunk in! 😊
The T-Zero camp in Bright – as an outsider coming in, it was not just a camp but a awesome week of learning, training and making new friends.
Why did I sign up for a Triathlon camp as a complete outsider to a T-Zero camp?
The motto I have lived by for a while is -“just say yes”. Complimentary to my nature of being a serial experimenter with training, this ethos has launched me into some quite amazing adventures and often had me receiving race and event confirmations seemingly minutes after just saying “yes”.
So, when I became aware of a week long training camp in Bright, a beautiful town in Alpine Victoria, and a central location to amazing bike rides and training opportunities – well, it was a no brainer, and before I knew it I had signed up.
I have spent more than a few years on the triathlon scene and its fair to say I know quite a few people in the triathlon world and in Queensland particularly. I am pretty familiar with the major coaching groups and a lot of the coaches.
But T-Zero? This coaching group was an enigma to me. When I signed up to camp, my sum knowledge of T-Zero was that they were based on the Sunny Coast, did individual, online coaching and had seriously cool kit. That was pretty much it.
Having attended quite a few training camps over the years, I psyched myself up for a challenging week of physical training in beautiful Bright. More importantly, I mentally prepared myself to embrace the usual training camp scene of athletes jostling for attention, variable coaching levels and training turning into athletes racing each other…. all of the unknown plus the fact that I was a T-Zero outsider. I expected it to be challenging.
So what completely surprised me about the T-Zero camp was that it was unlike any camp I had ever been on. On day one, our coaches, Rich and Scotty, set the scene for camp week and a request to leave our egos at the door. And what followed was quite simply one of the most enjoyable weeks of training I have ever experienced -with a group of seriously awesome individuals. I met athletes from all over Australia who had varied goals including endurance bike rides, ocean swims, triathlons, ultraruns and swim runs – athletes training for their own goals and coaches who were just as excited about these goals with as the athletes themselves.
The camp base, T-Zero headquarters, was a brilliant concept. Athletes were welcome at the coaches’ residence at any reasonable hour to chat with coaches, other athletes and relax whilst using the Normatecs. In addition to team dinners, we chilled here during education sessions including nutrition, goal setting, teamwork and an invaluable sports psychology session by legendary Grant Giles. We are all now familiar with the “I am the sky, that is just a cloud” theory thanks Grant. Now to put it into action!
The cycling opportunities were the obvious lure to Bright. Some serious km were covered with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery and chat with other athletes. As far as the individual sessions went, my favourite was Mt Hotham - mainly because it felt kind of epic cycling up there above the tree line for as long as we did and having a few challenging, but achievable gradients, at the end. For a group ride, I loved Falls Creek rolling along with banter all the way. And just to top it off, having the opportunity to have another crack at Mt Buffalo at the end of a long week and long ride was pretty cool too - a bit of freedom to test some limits outside of a normally structured training week.
There were run sessions both in Bright and at altitude, swim sessions in nearby Myrtleford and open water swims in alpine lakes. The strength session and yoga at the Bright Fitness centre were an added bonus too and we connected with our inner zen.
Falls Creek training day was super inspiring with our awesome guest coach Annabel Luxford leading a run and swim at altitude – I don’t think we noticed the lack of oxygen as we chatted with her, listened to her training tips and enjoyed the scenery.
The local coffee haunts, restaurants and ice cream shops took a bashing by the team and the calorie consumption would have astounded any member of the general public. Myself? Well, I left a fairly decent mark on the Lindt chocolate stocks in town!
A lot was achieved overall in one small week – swim, bike, run, education, socialising and great conversation.
But, more than anything on camp, the one thing that absolutely stood out was the T-Zero culture. Everyone was treated equally and that everyone’s goals were considered equally important. That leave your ego at the door comment coming to fruition. That success on a session was more about turning up and giving your best rather than being compared to anyone else on camp. And that everyone was there supporting each other to get the sessions done. Lots of teamwork in such an individual sport.
So did my “just say yes” ethos serve me well? It is completely obvious that it did – not only do I now know a whole new bunch of amazing people but T-Zero is no longer the enigma it once was. Thanks for an amazing week!
"An awesome all inclusive and professionally run training camp - great location and sensational athletes and coaches to train with - you know you have had a great 8 day camp when you want just a little bit more - booked again for next year - cant wait."
An amazing collection of training and racing advice from the T:Zero Multisport coaches- with the occasional guest blogger! Read this blog to help you live your potential!