Tues 3 – Sund 8 Jan 2012
Falls Creek is no longer a secret training ground for high performance athletes. There are now numerous training groups hitting the alps for altitude training camps, including a group of 20 triathletes under the guidance of Tri Alliance preparing them for upcoming Ironman and Long Course races including the Falls Creek Long Course Triathlon on Sat 11 Feb 2012.

The weather forecast for the week ahead looked promising, with lows of 5-10deg and highs of 25deg – perfect swim, ride and run weather!

Day 1 – Kicked off with an open water swim in the Rocky Valley Lake. Athletes were prepared for an icy cold swim, but after warmer than usual temps leading into the camp, we were all surprised with the cool but not freezing temps of the lake. Some even jumped in without a wetsuit! After a 2km swim, athletes rested up for an afternoon 1.25hr long run at elevations of 1500-1600m through mountainous terrain.  Spectacular views!

Day 2 – Was an early start, luckily the over night temp didn’t drop too low, but with a 30km descent to kick start the day newspapers, vest and arm warmers were on the menu. The ride included a 125km ride down Falls Creek to Mount Beauty, over Towonga Gap to Bright (stopping for a well earned feed and coffee) then athletes making their way the same way home. The 30km climb up Falls Creek is a tough one to finish with but with the right nutrition and plenty of fluids, everyone did super well, with the satisfaction of completing a tough ride. A nice icy cold ‘bath’ in the mountain streams to aid in recovery, food and rest before another swim and run session in the afternoon. By 6pm athletes had clocked up 125km on the bike, 2km swim and up to 18km of running. Not a bad days training – now for food! The gourmet pizza’s at the local pub ‘The Mann Hotel’ were a hit!

Day 3 – Another big ride to kick start the training day, with a 90km return trip over the Falls Creek Course and down the Omeo Climb and return. Not many had ridden the Omeo Climb before – so didn’t know what they were in for! A steep and windy descent (which means a steep and winding climb!) in the ‘clouds’ on a cold morning was a hard one to grasp. Everyone was willing for the clouds to lift and the sun to shine, but not until we reached the bottom did the sun decide to shine. The climb back up was brutual, with gradients ranging from 6-18%, the level outs at 6-7% felt like you were riding on the flat and gave riders some nice relief before the mountain climbed again! Elevation peaked out at over 1700m above sea level, with the majority of the ride hovering anywhere between 1500-1700m – it makes for a tough (but rewarding) day in the saddle. Athletes were then greeted with a 6-8km run off the bike when they arrived home before they could finally rest and get some ‘real’ food into them. And if they were lucky enough a little nap before an afternoon 1.5hour run. Day 3 was a big day for athletes, but the satisfaction of completing the day could be felt amongst everyone as they prepared for an early night to bed.

Day 4 – An ‘easier’ day on the camp, with a reconnaisance ride over the Falls Creek Long Course bike course. Although this was made all the more challenging in apparent temperatures of 0-4deg. Without the right gear that can make for one cold ride!! As athletes thawed out in the morning sun, a quick feed and rest before a 45min leisurely  walk to the Rocky Valley Lake for a 2-3km swim and another recovery walk home. More food (could we be getting sick of eating??), and rest in time for an easy 8-10km reconnaisance run over the run course. Falls Creek have spent plenty of time upgrading the run trail, and the surface is fantastic to run on now. Racing/running flats can definately be packed for the race.

Day 5 – There was a little excitment around on day 5, after an easier traiing load the day prior and the Tri Alliance Race Simulation being prepared! Tri Alliance had a great set-up to simulate the Falls Creek race, with athletes completing a 800-1km swim, 50km ride and 7-13km run over the whole course. A perfect way for athletes to practise their race and nutrition plans on the course some will be racing on in 5 weeks time. An invaluable experience for all those who attended. As with all good training camps, the day wasn’t finished there though as athletes rested up for a recovery run in the afternoon.

That night at our brief for the next day, athletes were given the option on a few rides to finish their last day of the camp before heading home. A 60km round trip of Falls Creek Climb, a 125km Mount Beauty to Mount Buffalo return or 70km Bright to Buffalo return. Most athletes were pretty keen to see what Mount Buffalo had in store for them, sowith agreed meeting points and starting times, everyone hit the bed for a super early morning.

Day 6 – Alarms went off sometime before 5am and as athletes rolled out of bed we were greeted with some very unpleasant Falls Creek Weather. Gusty winds, heavy rain and a ‘white out’ with fog and clouds it was quickly decided that the ride was not going to go ahead. Somewhat disappointed (or was it relief) athletes jumped back in bed for a few extra hours sleep to see what the day might bring us a little later on. When 9am rolled past, but the weather (and clouds) had not, the decision was made to pack up camp and start the drive back to Melbourne (or Albury and Foster for a couple of the guys!).

Even though our last day of the camp was cut short by the conditions, coaches were extremely pleased with everyone’s efforts over the week. The camp was a great mid season boost for those athletes racing Ironman New Zealand and Melbourne, and for those racing Falls Creek Long Course on Saturday 11 February – an invaluable experience!

“Falls Creek as a training ground has given me a boost in confidence in both my level of strength and fitness to take into Ironman Melbourne – look forward to the next camp!” ~ Morris

“Thanks to the team for a great week and inspiration! Falls Creek is an awesome place to race and train, there are incredible views – but you ned to earn them!” 🙂 ~ Andy

Well done everyone on a great weeks training – look forward to seeing you train stronger and harder than ever after backing up from the camp!

See you back in Falls Creek in February!
Team Tri Alliance

Click here to view more pictures from the Falls Creek Altitude Training Camp

Tri Alliance is holding another Altitude training camp in February leading into the Falls Creek Long Course. Use this as either a pre race camp – or as another booster for other Long Course races in March/April/May. CLICK HERE for more details and to express your interes.

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