Dear TED,How to build a conference on Triathlon – Part 1,Day One

kona crawl

Looking at what goes behind the pain and suffering…..and I suppose also the sense of achievement

Good morning TED

Your work in providing a forum for innovative presentations on technology, entertainment and design has clearly left a mark on the conference industry (I should know, I work as a producer in it), prompting debate on the world wide web and inspiring the next generation. Great stuff. As an avid sports enthusiast, I have always wanted to produce/be involved in a thought-provoking, exciting event whereby the best sports athletes and scientists come together to challenge old ideas and establish new ones. Being in Singapore, there are present challenges in putting together a forum on my own using your TEDx platform (flight reimbursements etc. I dare say this is a call out to those organizers in the country :p!) and furthermore I think an exciting topic such as ‘Sport’ needs a full team behind it anyway. To that end, I thought I would put together a ‘wish list’ for an agenda  on the specific subject of triathlon – any further suggestions, just drop me a line.

We would definitely have athletes on spin bikes & infinity pools alongside the stage throughout the days proceedings!

We would definitely have athletes on spin bikes & infinity pools alongside the stage throughout the days proceedings!

Granted, not all of these presentations are as wacky or striking as some of your other installments but I think it is a careful balance between recognized veterans of the sports/its disciplines and the highest respected innovators in the sport. Whatever it is, the speaker line up is an extremely exciting prospect and I think the triathlon industry will queue up to get into the front row – no risk of a ‘quiet’ day two morning (as can be the case with conferences) at this one! Hope you enjoy and sure if nothing else it will break up the late afternoon in the office!

Day One – Excelling in the three disciplines of Triathlon

Session 1: Opening remarks

To start the day off, well there are dozens of great quotes but I found this one, that is not by a triathlete but I think sets the spirit of why in our often comfortable day to day lives we still challenge ourselves with a triathlon:

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” – Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

Now to the opening speeches: I think this has to come from a respected and prolific winner of the Ironman Kona World Championship, as it will really set the tone of the meeting to come & certainly get people to sit down & listen! They won’t even need a coffee. My vote for opening day one or two (depending on their own schedules and I picked retired athletes because of training schedules etc)

Chrissie WellingtonChrissie Wellington is the queen of Ironman triathlon and has been World Champion 4 times. She holds, or held, all three world and championship records relating to ironman-distance  triathlon races: firstly, the overall world record, secondly, the Ironman World Championship course record (from 2009 until Mirinda Carfrae lowered it in 2013), and thirdly, the official world record for all Ironman-branded triathlon races over the full Ironman distance. She won the World Championship in three consecutive years (2007–2009), but could not start the 2010 World Championship race because of illness, but regained the title in 2011. Furthermore (there is quite a big list here!) she was undefeated in all thirteen of her races over the ironman distance and is the only triathlete, male or female, to have won the World Championship less than a year after turning professional. This achievement was described by the British Triathlon Federation as “a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships’.

Dave Scott

Dave Scott, is a former US triathlete and the first six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion. He won in Kona six times in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987, with only his rival, Mark Allen, managing to match these six titles eight years later. Scott is also referred to as “The Man.” Remarkably Dave Scott came out of ‘retirement’ in 1994 at age 40 to take second place in Kona and 2 years later he returned again to place 5th, running the marathon in 2:45!

Of course there is a whole host of great triathletes, some of which can be found in this list below:

Session 2: Panel discussion on ‘The future of Olympic distance triathlon’

[1] Andy Schmitz, USA Triathlon’s High Performance General Manager

[2] Ben Bright, Head Coach, British Triathlon

[3] Omar Gonzalez, Coach of Javier Gomez (Winner of ITU World Championship, literally by a few metres – great race report here)

[4] Dr Patrick Schamasch, Medical & Scientific Director, International Olympic Committee

Session 3: Breaking it down into the 3 disciplines; what advice do the most accomplished athletes have?

Swimming – Dr. Rondi Davies

Rondi Davies

Ok swimming is hard but marathon swimming is even harder! Rondi Davies is the American record holder for the fastest time around Manhattan Island (5:44:47) for a woman and holds the world record for a 10 mile swim. It doesn’t stop there, she also co-founded the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, a 7 day event of 120 miles, with David Barra and in 2012 was the only person besides Grace van der Byl to finish each of the stages on the race!

Cycling – Chris Broadman

Chris Broadman

Chris Broadman is a British former racing cyclist  who won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics and has broken the World Hour Record 3 times – including breaking Eddy Merckxx 28 year old record under the same conditions by only 10 metres in 2000. He has worn the yellow jersey on 3 separate occasions in the Tour de France and is nicknamed ‘The Professor’ for his meticulous attention to detail in preparation & training, and his technical know-how. Boardman had a huge focus on interval training and was a keen user of power measuring devices – something which was being developed in the early 1990s. He quite famously had an altitude tent  built in his house to help him prepare for the hour record attempt. Although suffering from low hormone levels which outside professional cycling competition would need testosterone therapy (and in 1998 he was diagnosed with an illness like osteoporosis) Broadman still holds the record for the fastest average speed in a time trial (of 55.152kph) in the 7.2km time trial prologue at the 1994 Tour de France.

Running – Paula Radcliffe

Paula RadcliffePaula Radcliffe is the current world record holder for the marathon distance at a time of 2:15:25 hours. She is 3 time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), the NYC Marathon (2004, 2007, 2008) and also winner of the Chicago Marathon in 2002. She is also the former world champion in the marathon, half marathon, cross country and winner of 10k silver medal at the 1999 World Championships & 2002 Commonwealth champion at 5k. Paula has represented Great Britain in 4 consecutive Olympic Games. All this and she is an asthma sufferer! In addition to her running titles she is an MBE, winner of IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year, AIMS World Athlete of the Year (3 times) and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Session 4: On the day , looking at the grub & the gear

Why proper race nutrition is so important – Mark Allen, 2nd six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. 

Quick background, can’t really use that phrase with the mountain of stuff coming next, to Mark Allen: Competing in six Ironman Triathlon Championships up to 1989 before emerging victorious that year. That would be the first of six Ironman victories, the last coming in 1995 at age 37. He has also excelled at the Olympic distance, winning the sport’s inaugural World Championships in 1989 in Avignon, France by more than a minute. He also went undefeated in 10 trips to the Nice International Championships and from 1988-1990 he put together a winning streak of 20 races. Over the course of his racing career, which ended in 1996, he maintained a 90% average in top-three finishes. He was named Triathlete of the Year six times by Triathlete magazine, and in 1997 Outside magazine tabbed him The World’s Fittest Man. Allen was inducted into the Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame in 1997.

Session 5 – What’s next in wetsuit innovation?

Xavier Merian, Founder, Aquaman

In 1983, triathlon started on the world scene and with the lack of wetsuits in the sport – much like this epic 80s advert:

Then Xavier Merian changed it all and started working on the world’s first 1984 Triathlon wetsuit. AQUAMAN, as the company became known, put together the first wetsuit in 1984 which could provide warmth, freedom of movement, low water friction, and easy to take off. Even to this day AQUAMAN is dedicated to finding technological advancements that make a suit quicker and more comfortable. @triathleteurope recently reviewed the latest model – AQUAMAN ART – to have the ultimate in suit flexibility,link


And with all that talk on innovations in making you go faster in the water, my recommendations is the lunchtime talk should be about being invisible to sharks…..

Session 6 – Its all about the bike

Cervélo Triathlon/Time trial bicycles have won more pro races than any other, and they are by far the most popular bicycles at Ironman and time trial events for athletes of all levels. Enough said. I think we should get the whole time to join us………

Session 7 : How to get a powerful running experience

Ian Adamson, Director of Education & R&D, Newton Running Shoes

Ian is not only an expert in shoe design but an extremely successful adventure racer with six world championship wins, 15 world championship podium finishes and 14 international adventure race championship titles. He is a three time and current world record holder for endurance kayaking (262 miles in 24 hours.) Additionally Ian has competed internationally in adventure racing, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering and sailing. Ian holds a BS in Bio-mechanical engineering and an MS in Sports Medicine, and is featured regularly in the educational videos posted on the Newton website (also on the Newton Channel on YouTube).  You can read a great Q&A session with Ian on runblogger .

Session 8: IRONMAN Panel session – Still stuck on where to phrase this as the next trends/innovations in the sport or perhaps more ‘the future’.

Remarks – ‘From the Trenches’ with Diana Bertsch, Eleven Year Race Director of Ironman Kona – might go something like this

[1] Asker Jeukendrup Global Senior Director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (@Jeukendrup).

Jeukendrup, a distinguished author, Ironman triathlete and registered sports and exercise nutritionist, comes to GSSI from his position as Professor of Exercise Metabolism and Director of the Human Performance lab at the University of Birmingham in England.

[2] Joe Friel is an endurance sports coach best known as an elite triathlon and cycling coach as well as the author of The Triathlete’s Training BibleThe Cyclist’s Training BibleThe Mountain Biker’s Training BibleGoing Long: Training for Ironman-Distance Triathlons, and Your First Triathlon. Joe has trained endurance athletes since 1980. His clients are elite amateur and professional road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, and duathletes. They come from all corners of the globe and include American and foreign national champions, world championship competitors, and an Olympian. He is the author of ten books on training for endurance athletes including the popular and best-selling Training Bible book series. He holds a masters degree in exercise science, is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified Elite-level coach, and is a founder and past Chairman of the USA Triathlon National Coaching Commission.

[3] Walt LoweMedical Director of the IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann. 

The Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute is a comprehensive sports medicine clinic providing elite care for athletes of all ages and skill levels. The institute is based in Houston, Texas, serving the community with locations in the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, Memorial City Medical Center, and The Woodlands. The Institute brings together highly trained experts in sports science, orthopedics,orthopedic surgery, sports physical therapy, human performance, strength and conditioning and sport nutrition to help athletes of all ages and abilities prevent injury, recover from injury and improve performance to reach their personal athletic goals.


I HAVE to get one of these!

I HAVE to get one of these!

Afternoon sessions take a further look behind at keynote researchers & advocates of our three disciplines

Session 9 – Perfecting that swim stroke

Rajat Mittel, Professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins

Rajat oversaw the famous ‘Paddle vs Propeller: Which Olympic swimming stroke is superior?‘. Using high-precision laser scans and underwater videos of elite swimmers, and additionally using animation software to match the video sequence. The study supervised by the fluid dynamics expert found that the deep catch stroke, resembling a paddle, has the edge over sculling, the bent-arm, propeller-inspired motion. This research was later published in the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering but you can find a popular science write-up here – ‘Delineating the Perfect Swim Stroke’

Session 10 – Aerodynamic Cycling Analysis

David Salazar, General Manger, A2 Wind Tunnel

David manages the world’s first wind tunnel which can measure aerodynamic forces and can capture biomechanics as they occur in a real-time, frame-by-frame fashion throughout the entire tunnel session. The tunnel provides a consistent aerodynamic environment at speeds ranging from 30 to 85 mph and clients include everything from triathletes, time trialist to motorcycle manufacturers, racing cars!

Session 11 – Barefoot Running – should this be how you should train & race?

An the debate ravages on – Barefoot running advocates argue minimal running is better for the feet in that it strengthens them and reduces chronic injuries such as IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, shinsplints and other common running injuries. The side of the oppostions argue the barefoot running forces runners to forestrike as opposed to heel-strike, which is the result of the evolution of the running shoe to exhibit a cushioned heel.

I think with all this running around in preparation for an Ironman we should get one of barefoot running’s greatest supporters in; Christopher McDougall  is an the author of the best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He is also a contributing editor for Men’s Health and a host of other major magazines. And of course is quite a good runner as well!!!

Session 12 – Altitude training research

Mo Farah is arguably as Lord Coe put it ‘the greatest British athlete of all time’. Maybe we should find out how and why he is so good, might help that dreaded final 10k on the Ironman marathon right? Alberto Salazar is the American coach of Mo Farah and Galen Rupp (Olympic silver medalist and current American recorder holder of 10k)……I bet he has a few interesting things to say!

Evening session bonanza – Determination & guts

I would NOT like to get in a ring with this guy!

I would NOT like to get in a ring with this guy!

‘Guts and Glory’

Baxter Humby is a Canadian kickboxer known as “The One Armed Bandit” due to his missing right hand, which was amputated at birth just below his elbow after becoming entangled with the umbilical cord. He is the only man in the world to win world titles with only one hand. Baxter is the current IMTC (International Muay Thai Council) World Super Welterweight Champion. He holds a number of different title belts including WBC Super Welterweight National Champion (2010), IKKC USA Kickboxing Champion, IMTC World Middleweight Champion and IKBA International Kickboxing Champion.

‘Yes you can’ with Team Hoyt

Team Hoyt is father and son Dick Hoyt and Rick Hoyt, from Massachusetts, who have competed together in various athletic endeavors, including marathons and triathlons. Rick has cerebral palsy and during competition Dick pulls Rick in a special boat as they swim, carries him in a special seat in the front of a bicycle, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run. Team Hoyt was inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008

Now delegates you can go out and enjoy the town………but get ready for Day Two!!!


10 Extreme Triathlons to do before you die – #Triathlonbucketlist


‘The best inspiration is not to outdo others, but to outdo ourselves’

So got into this triathlon craze then? Got all the kit, been posting some decent times? You may even have moved up to the Ironman triathlon.

Well sorry to break it to you, but you aren’t ‘done’ once you have completed an Ironman, not matter how fast you are or how many times you have been on the start line at Kona (mind you fair play if you got there!). Here’s a list of 10 that you need to start planning for (in no particular order).

1. Double Brutal, Llanberis, Wales (@BrutalTriathlon)

Looks scenic, bet the swimmer is hurting though

Looks scenic, bet the swimmer is hurting though

On the 20/21st Sept (2014) competitors will set out on a 4.8 mile swim in the beautiful (cold though!) Lake Padarn, followed by a brutal 224mile cycle which will continue into the darkness. With aching legs and a sore ass – seriously just take a week off work and pedal all day everyday to toughen that backside up – you will set out on a ultra marathon of 52 miles up yet more hills, much like this:

When you are just about standing up,vomiting from 36hours of energy bars and your head swimming with nausea, you probably won't mind the rain

When you are just about standing up,vomiting from 36hours of energy bars and your head swimming with nausea, you probably won’t mind the rain

Think you can handle that? Oh yeah I forgot to tell you the ‘hill’ route, is really climbing up and down Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales……..You can see why they call it Brutal right?

You can check out the race details here:

2. Savageman Triathlon, Deep Creek Lake State Park, Maryland, USA (@savagemantri)

That devil looks familiar.....I wonder what other cycle race he featured in......

That devil looks familiar…..I wonder what other cycle race he featured in……

The SavageMan 70.0 Triathlon is the flagship event of the SavageMan Triathlon Festival and it has already established legendary status because of some gruelling features:

– The Westernport Wall is one of the unique experiences in any triathlon with a 31% grade lined with screaming, cowbell-ringing crazed spectators.

– As you struggle up the Wall (and as the video below shows, lots of falling off bikes by exhausted competitors) you can look down and see all the names of those athletes who successfully made it up the climb cleanly. That ‘Bill Smith’ is an ass, you don’t want him to beat you right?

-The crossing of the Eastern Continental Divide at Big Savage Mountain, a 7.1 mile, 1950′ elevation gain ascent with multiple, extended stretches approaching 20% is, without doubt, the most Savage climb in all of triathlon. So savage, in fact, that all athletes are timed in their ascent for the Big Savage Challenge.The record ascent of 31:30 has been set, makes you think how long it would take an average athlete – aka that is 40minutes of pain at least!

3. Newton 24 hours of Triathlon, Lake Mills, Wisconsin


So what’s a good opening Ironman, 12hours? 11:30? Well how about doing that non-stop for 24 hours? The Newton Triathlon is a continuous loop short course with a 0.24 mile swim, 11.2 mile bike and 2.6 mile run. Athlete’s compete to cover the most number of laps in 24 hours in either the swim – bike – run or bike – run format. The winning relay team/solo in each category is the one that covers the greatest number of legs/laps in the allotted time, and if there are relay teams/solos completing the same number of laps, then the fastest team/solo on their final lap is the winner. Apparently there is no night swimming……so just you and the road, don’t think that will make it easy though!

4. Silverman Triathlon, 70.3 IRONMAN in the Nevada desert (@NVSilvermanTri)

At least it looks like a good road.....

At least it looks like a good road…..

If you are going to do a half Ironman distance – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 12.1 mile run – this is the tough one (there is also a full mind you). During its six-year-run it has drew thousands of competitors and is recognized as one of the toughest courses in North America (including the toughest list by LIVESTRONG).

This recognition has lead to the 2013 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship (which recently announced that it would rotate between locations around the globe) being held in it’s third and final year in that location. Henderson, Nevada will still host a yearly IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon, so here’s your chance to take part in one of the toughest courses on the pro circuit.

5. Norseman Xtreme Triathon, Eidfjord, Norway (@nxtri)

Reminds you of that fishing program of discovery right? Although these racers are stupid enough to jump in the cold waters!

Reminds you of that fishing program of discovery right? Although these racers are stupid enough to jump in the cold waters!

The Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is a point-to-point race held in Norway’s Hardangerfjord to the local town, Eidfjord, where racers then make a transition on to bikes, cycling 180km (with the first 40km giving an ascent of 1200m above sea level) to Austbygda. In the final ‘run’ leg is a climb up the Gaustatoppen mountain (1880m). Because of racer fatigue and the dangers of weather changes runners have their own personal support crew (this race is unsupported, so you are convincing some of your mates – no doubt paying for them as well, it what must be the most expensive country in the world – to provide you with all your food and drink, massages might be handy too) up the mountain plus they must carry a backpack with emergency food and clothing, To reach the Norseman mountain finish competitors must be within a certain time at the foot of the climb or otherwise you get the lower course route & a different finishers T-shirt (one that I suspect you burn out of disappointment!). Just so you can get an idea of the weight of expectation now on you readers – the male record finishing time is 10:23:43 and the women’s is 12:17:04, so a tad harder than your traditional Ironman!

6. Enduroman Arch to Arc Triathlon (London to Paris, nonstop, including swimming the English Channel) (@EnduromanEvents)

I think this picture represents the race, lots of time to think by yourself!

I think this picture represents the race, lots of time to think by yourself!

The Enduroman Arch to Arc Triathlon is the longest point-to-point organized triathlon I have ever seen – mind you on the day you are either the lone solo or a solo relay team. The triathlon starts with a jog through London and the English countryside, aka 87 mile run (140km) from London’s Marble Arch to Dover on the Kent coast. This is followed by a cross-channel swim (shortest distance 21 miles/33,8km) to the French coast, but you don’t have to follow English Channel swimming rules – no speedos and duck fat necessary, swimsuits allowed. Of course you could try to be like Mark Bayliss (@bigBayliss) and set the solo record with no wetsuit! After that you finally finish with a 180 mile (289,7km) bike from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paric. The clock starts at Marble Arch, London and stops at Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Only 13 athletes have ever completed the challenge, the current record being held at 73 hours and 39 minutes. Rachael Cadman is the first female finisher and has a time at 97h37 on 23 August 2011 (fourth fastest overall).

7. Deca Ironman, Global locations 

Get sick of doing length after length in the pool, well these racers do 2.4 miles every day for 10 days......oh and all the other biking & running

Get sick of doing length after length in the pool, well these racers do 2.4 miles every day for 10 days……oh and all the other biking & running

There are a lot of crazy ultra-events out there, but this one might take the cake, at least for the lack of mental stimulation! The Deca Ironman in Monterrey, Mexico is an annual race in which competitors complete 10 Ironman-distance triathlons in 10 days. The fastest cumulative time wins.

Here’s a description from the Competitor website:

Each day, all of the racers head over to the University of Nuevo Leon. Once athletes complete the 2.4 miles of swimming in the pool, they take to the bike and ride over to the local track about 1.2 miles away. The track is located in the Parque Ninos Heroes. Once at the park, athletes must complete 93 laps around the track to obtain the 180 km of riding. After the bike, athletes run the opposite direction around the same track. The 26.2 marathon is made up of 22 laps.

So basically pain and laps!

If that isn’t enough there was also this year the Triple Deca Ironman attempt by 50 athletes in Brescia, Italy. This event which was designed to see what was possible! no doubt the sport science were queuing up! It was running until the 8th October, I am currently hunting for results! Keep tabs on the website;

8. Red Bull Caveman Triathlon, Belgium 

Next frontier for adventure racing?

Next frontier for adventure racing?

Ok before you get too excited (as I was) this race consists of only a 250 mountain bike, 350 run and a 250 kayak. It was pretty much an exhibition race in Belgium’s Grottes de Han with some of the country’s top runner & mountain bikers, as well as Olympic athletes.

I always enjoyed downhill segments on triathlons until I saw this!

I always enjoyed downhill segments on triathlons until I saw this!

However with races continuing to push the limits of crossing mountains, rivers, deserts my tip is to fully expect Red Bull to take this further and put a World Series on (like their Cliff Diving). I mean its a triathlon in a cave! And there is a huge catalogue of caves around the world which are the size of multiple football pitches………so Red Bull ummmmm *hint*……..

9. SwissMan Xtreme triathlon, Jungfrau, Switzerland (@suixtri)

A race list featuring hills wouldn't be complete without a Swiss entry!

A race list featuring hills wouldn’t be complete without a Swiss entry!

So the second triathlon from the Xtreme series to make the list is the SwissMan (there is also a final third called the Celtman and is suitably Scottish) a race which brings you right from the palm trees in Ascona, southern Switzerland (I swear that is what the website says!) biking over 3 Alpine passes and then a run up to the foot of the Jungfrau Glacier. The dramatic changes in scenery must make this one of the most incredible adventures in an Iron distance triathlon. 

10. Global Triathlon, The World!

Will this include the Pacific in 25 years?

Will this include the Pacific in 25 years?

Dan Martin (@DanMartinAdv) – Endurance cyclist, who has done both South Korea to Cape Town & London to Cape Town – set out on a project to do the Ultimate Triathlon – a global one. The project moved along pretty well – there was  interviews on BBC News for example – but never quite came together. I wish him well for this project in the future.

Lets face it this would be a triathlon career signed off wouldn’t it? No-one has ever done it……challenge laid down readers!

12 bike rides to do before you die – #Cyclingbucketlist

Is this what it is all about?

Is this what it is all about?

Bored in the office? Find yourself staring out of that window across from the desk? Well let’s put together a list of bike rides (which have all been achieved) which you can post on your computer screen and stare at for the next 3 years, until you get divorced and blow all your savings to have some good stories for when you are old.


When will you escape?

No1 – Riding across the World’s Largest Salt Lake – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia


Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level.

It is not as flat as a pancake, in fact much like cycling across cobble stones due to the way the salt dries in hexagonal tiles, but as uncomfortable as it would be to ride up & down for a few days the reflective surface has been compared to heaven on earth. It is about as far from an office as you can possibly get – no road markings, masses of pink flamingos bathing in pools of water and the only reference point being the Volcan Thunupa island (an old coral reef) on the horizon.

In total, we pedalled across 80km of this prehistoric salt lake, via the rocky outcrop of Isla Incahuasi in the middle. As we set out onto the crusty surface, the only landmark we had was Volcan Thunupa at the far end to guide us, there being no road markings to follow.

A great blog on this ride can be found here:

No2 – Keirin racing in Japan


Keirin is a very popular gambling sport in Japan. Nine riders race on the track at the speed of 70km/h employing different tactics as their don’t compete against the clock but first over the line. Riders are grouped into two groups – ‘Senko’ riders who have more endurance and are positioned at the top of the LINE and leads the LINE. Then there is ‘Oikomi’ riders who have more instantaneous force (I suppose the ‘Chris Hoys’) who follow and block other ‘LINES” and protect the ‘SENKO” rider of their LINE as they head towards the goal. Only in Japan and Korea is this Olympic sport held as a gambling sport with about 3800 registered riders classified into ‘S-class’ and ‘A-class’ (S-class being superior to A-class). The Keirin Grand Prix is held every December.

No3 – Nyalam Tong La pass, Nepal-Tibet


Nyalam Tong La or Yakrushong La is a Mountain pass in China on the Matsung Tsangpo-Phung Chhu watershed divide where the Friendship Highway connecting Kathmandu, Nepal and Lhasa, Tibet crosses at 5,150 metres elevation. One of the highest paved passed in the world this route gives unforgettable panoramic views with breathtaking scenery of Shishanpagma mountain (8012m) and countless other mountains!

No4 – Cycling through Death Valley, USA; the Furnace Creek 508 ultra cycling race being the optimal way!


Furnace Creek 508 is an ultramarathon bicycle race that takes place annually each October since 1989 in Southern California. Its route starts in Santa Clarita, California (25 miles north of Los Angeles), goes northeast to Towne Pass and drops into Death Valley, traverses Death Valley in the southern direction, crosses Mojave Desert and ends at Twentynine Palms, California. The race is named after the total length of its course (508 miles) and the location of its midpoint (near Furnace Creek, California).The Furnace Creek 508 identifies riders and teams with “totems”; animal names said to signify or have a special meaning for a rider or team.

No5 – Death Road (Yungas Road really, who knew?), Bolivia


Cycling the so-called world’s most dangerous road is much like an extreme sport like skydiving or come to think of it more like BASE jumping because let’s face it there is no expert guide controlling your propulsion! The 40mile route, lined with stone and wooden crosses, has over 25,000 backpackers a year hurtling at 30mph over a surface more like a dirt track than a paved road. If your thing is perilous hairpin bends, unobstructed 600m cliff drops while you hug vertical rock-faces on one side, and in its upper reaches clouds obscuring the deadly jungle abyss around you; then well you should book a flight asap!

A interesting BBC report on this rider’s badge of honour can be found here:

No6 – Riding in a team car in the Tour de France


The Ride behind the Race.

Ok this is not actually an activity with a bicycle between your thighs but it is about the closest you will ever get to living the Tour de France (if you never make Pro of course). And yes you could dress up like this guy and chase cyclists up the mountain, but sitting behind Dave Brailsford in the car as Sky cross the finish line could top your Dad screaming at the car radio when England missed a World Cup penalty – we all need some stand out memories right? There is a great article from on being buried in the backseat under cycling equipment:

I must google this guy's name.....

I must google this guy’s name…..

No 7 Part of a pair in a tandem TT at the Paralympics

Of course there is always Land's End to John O'Goats as well.......

Of course there is always Land’s End to John O’Goats as well…….

Visually impaired cyclists use a tandem bicycle with a sighted pilot  to compete in paralympic track and road competition. Disciplines include the time trial and individual pursuit.

Just have to find an extremely talented paralympic athlete now who can

Here is a quick video on when the tandem was featured in the Olympics also [Paris 1924, the same Games at the Chariots of Fire in fact!], should we start lobbying now?

No 8 – Pico de Veleta: cycling Europe’s highest road


When a mountain climb hasn’t even featured with the pros in Vuelta a Espana (and really those Tour organisers are sadist, I mean they literally sent people out in the 60s to find these sick climbs!) you know it is going to be a long day. This 3,384m climb is the highest paved road in Europe and apparently ranks 15 in the world’s hardest climbs – number 15 coming from the Himalayas. The 40km+ ascent even has personal accounts warning of a lack of oxygen at the peak.

So next time your boss thinks he is the tough guy, challenge him to ride this. This is what happens when they sent a Telegraph reporter up there:

No 9 – Cycle the 1100mile Iditerod trail from Knik to Nome

Could turn in to a bit of a walk I must add

Could turn in to a bit of a walk I must add

This is the one with the dog sleds right? Right.

But cycling in the Iditerod has also featured for over 100 years; there is even books out there with original accounts and photographs of men who rode bicycles instead of dog teams during the gold rushes – ‘Wheels on Ice, Bicycling in Alaska 1898-1900’ by Terrence Cole (that’s a history thesis if ever I heard one!)

These extraordinary cycle rides fit into the present because of the determination of five Anchoragers who set up an original 170 mile ride which was conceived as a ‘shakedown training run’ to test equipment and stamina. Three years after the original race in 1985, 4 men completed the 1,049 miles up the Iditarod dog sled trial to Nome in 22 days – imagine that on your CV! This ultimate bike race now runs as the Iditasport Impossible (1100miles) or if you are a little strapped for time – The Iditasport Extreme (350miles) or Iditasport 130.

Interested? Check out more details on one of my favourite, mad websites –

Before you click enter, you may want to ready this quote from the website by Patti Brehler (a participate in 1990 February race)

“Anybody can mountain bike on a wooded trail. For a real challenge, try pedaling through two feet of snow with a 20-lb pack in minus 40 degree temperatures.I rode the trail for only about two miles, and had to push my mountain bike the other 50 miles. It took me 37 3/4 hours to travel 52 miles, and sometimes it seemed more like a survival test than a mountain bike race.”

But please try to enjoy it.

No 10 – Great Divide bike race, Canada – Mexico


The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is a continuous long distance race from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA. As of 2010 the route was 2745 miles but this length is adjusted as the organizers continue to refine the race. Typically the entire route takes 6-10 weeks and the list of complications include ( :p) 

– Reliable food and water sources on some portions of the route are over 100 miles (160 km) apart

– Unpredictable mountain and desert weather can bring snow, rain, high winds, and temperature extremes at any time of year

– Riders should be self-sufficient and carry camping equipment as commercial lodging is not available for long stretches of the route

– You may want to be a tad handy at bicycle maintenance and repair

– Much of the route is not signposted so reading a compass is a good place to start on your preparations.

–  It is also not uncommon to encounter large mammals including grizzly and black bears, moose and occasionally cougars – really puts that ‘tough’ sales meeting half an hour ago into perspective!

No 11 – Race across America


The Race Across America, or RAAM, is an ultramarathon bicycle race across the United States that started in 1982 as the Great American Bike Race and is probably the best-known annual endurance events in the world. The race has no stages and runs from west coast to east coast in the United States – approximately 3,000miles (4,800km). In contrast the Tour de France is 2,300miles long with the distance divided into individual stages and spread over 3 weeks. As you can imagine sleep management is one of the biggest challenges of RAAM as the clock doesn’t top even for sleeping. Solos at the front of the race will typically sleep as little as 90minutes a day and in order to make the 12 day time limit, racers can’t afford more than 4 hours a day at the most.

In its traditional form, RAAM is a solo competitor event – a non-stop individual time trial – the race organizers often call this the Human Powered Vehicle Race Across America and is slated as a platform for technology advancement in cycling aerodynamics and human powered propulsion. The current solo record was set in 2013 as is 7days 22hours by Christoph Strasser – which works out at 15.58mph average over the distance (that includes any rest periods!). In addition to the solo effort, there are also team categories – 2,4,8 – and tandem bikes.

Personally I had a stab at a similar race – The Adventurist’s non-stop, solo Transcontinental Bike Race from London to Istanbul (about 2200 miles) in August 2013; which unlike the RAAM is completely unsupported i.e. no car with crew and food behind you – you can see my race report here:

No 12 – World Cycle Race – ‘If you want a bigger race, find a bigger planet’


One human, one bicycle, one lap of the Earth, one world record – the longest and toughest bicycle race on the globe.

It’s a lap around planet Earth against the clock and your fellow riders. The distance must be 18,000miles although the route is up to each rider (noting that you must cross at least 2 antipodal points); so this is really your chance to travel the world and do the ultimate endurance race. It starts on March 22nd in London/Singapore/Auckland – not to pitch it, but this is my goal, so why don’t you join me; more information here:

5 endurance fundraisers that went viral

Today I was reading a very interesting article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on how the ‘technique’ of ‘Going Viral’ has moved beyond just the funny or shocking youtube videos to the point were fundraisers are using it to produce extraordinary donation totals in their events.

Below its just a snapshot of some of the most successful fundraising campaigns in endurance sport. All of these examples have captured the imagination of the public – networks outside of their immediate family or friends – and through promotion by word of mouth, social media references and personal email forwards have made a huge difference to their causes!

Hopefully, even in a small scale, I can replicate their success in my Transcontinental Bike Race [London-Istanbul] in August for my charities, WWF - & RFU Injured players foundation – So if you have any links with key influencers – Rugby players, ‘Wildlife celebrities’ – or have connects in press & media, please help.

Andrew Murray – Running from Scotland to Sahara in less than 3 months

Dr Andrew Murray, a locum doctor from Edinburgh, set off from John O’Groats in November 2010 hoping to arrive in Mor­occo within 85 days.  After  the 4,262km (2,664 miles) he arrived in just 78 days, an achievement which is believed to be a record for consecutive ultra marathons. The feat aimed to raise £100,000 for Mongolian charity Yamaa Trust, which aims to eradicate poverty from the south Gobi region of the country.

Following on from this, in November 2012, Andrew ran 7 marathon in 7 days on 7 continents, winning the Antarctica event in the process and has gone on to become a Physical Activity Champion for the Scottish Government.

This year is challenges will take  him on 17 consecutive ultra-marathons in east Africa this year by tackling the spectacular mount Kilimanjaro.  Aim high people!

Gerry Duffy – Winning the Deca-Ironman UK

Gerry Duffy completed and won the UK Deca-Ironman Challenge in June 2011. Each day he swam 3.8km, cycled 186km and ran a marathon (42km). He did this for 10 consecutive days and won this challenge with an aggregated lead of over 19 hours. This was to follow up to his 2010 feat, when Gerry along with his friend Ken Whitelaw, ran 32 marathons in the 32 counties of Ireland.

Gerry Duffy’s Deca Ironman raised 7,970euros for Irish Autism Action and gained publicity of Irish national television – – and on going radio coverage.

Here’s a clip of Gerry 5 days into the challenge.

Dave Heeley – run & cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats – 1000 miles in just 10 days, oh and he is blind

Dr Dave Heeley won 2012 Endurance Fundraiser of the Year, having run and cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats – 1000 miles in just 10 days – raising £70,000 for Macmillan Cancer Research. ‘Blind Dave’ was also choosen to be part of the Paralympic opening ceremony and like many of these extraordinary fundraisers, on a big side note is the only blind person to have completed 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents!

Check out this amazing man right here:

Stuart Block – Cycling 15,000km from Johannesburg to London

Stuart Block’s beyond the bike challenge saw him ride Thandie, his tandem bicycle, from South Africa to London for the 2012 Olympics via the Copperbelt region of Zambia. In the build up to the challenge he had not found any mates to do the whole thing but had a whole host who were keen to travel some of the way – thus the tandem bike idea was born, with different ‘strokers’ riding with him along the way. The journey raised over £100,000 for the charities – Beyond Ourselves (a organization which builds an develops community schools in Zambia), Right to Sight, Alive & Kicking & UNICEF.

You can check out a video of this tandem cycle in aid of sustainable development in the world’s poorest region right here:

Roz Savage – Ocean rower

Roz Savage holds 4 Guinness World Records for ocean rowing, including being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Her first Atlantic row raised over £9000 for the Prince’s trust but her charitable work has just grown from that. A quick run through of her ocean rows can be found here:

As you can imagine her list of achievements she has is endless – Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, United Nations Climate Hero, Top Ten Ultimate Adventures by National Geographic – but I would like to reflect on the story she tells on why she started all this. Back in the early 2000s she was sitting on a train and began to draw up two obituaries – one that she was leading to, the nice job, house, husband etc and the one she wanted – basically adventure. The rest I suppose is history.

And if you want to row an ocean, check out her video here:

My top (recent) adventure, endurance athletes


This list is made up of the most inspiring athletes and adventurers that I came across over the last 24 months – people that inspired my own participation in the Transcontinental Race (Bike race to London-Istanbul) and have set the wheels in motion on why I want to work & be involved in ultra endurance science.I think this list shows how exciting and inspiring the world can be – not to mention for anyone can achieve to raise money for good causes!

To take a quote from the website on Ben Fogle’s 3000 mile Atlantic swim in 2014 (which would be included in any list like this) – ‘The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing’
[Follow me on future updates on articles about endurance, adventure athletes @NWlongworth. If you are a company keen to get involved in this ‘world’ and put on inspiring talks for young people, please drop me a line]
I won’t attempt to rank them – I don’t think you can possibly could – but for the sake of reference I have just put numbers next to their names.
Mike Hall
1. Record-holder and race leader for the top adventure cycling events – Mike Hall
Yorkshireman Mike Hall, 30, a semi-professional extreme endurance cyclist (mind you I have no doubt this is ‘professional’ now since my 2010 reference!) obliterated the round-the-world cycle record, taking just 91 days and 18 hours to complete the 18,000-mile ride. This worked out at almost 200 miles a day and eclipsed the previous record by Alan Bate of 106 days.
Mike Hall completed this feat riding solo and completely unsupported. Epic – and hats off to all the other competitors on the World Cycle Race! You can check out his interview with Bike Radar here:
Mike Hall is currently organiser of the Adventurists’ World Cycle Race – on 22nd March 2014 and race director for the company’s Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul on 2nd August 2013 – You can see his twitter feed at @Normally_Human and website at
Mark Bayliss
2. Record holder on the toughest triathlon ‘race’ – Mark Bayliss
The Enduroman Arch to Arc race is a monster. It is an ultra-distance triathlon, starting from London’s Marble Arch with a 87 mile (140km) run to Dover, then a cross channel swim (shortest distance 21 miles) to the French coast, and finishes with a 180 mile (289.7km) bike from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Only 11 athletes have ever completed the challenge solo (a fantastic statistic, although for any solo participants that may be reading this and haven’t finished; the English channel tides, weather conditions do play a big role!).
Mark’s solo record (and he wasn’t wearing a wetsuit on the swim [I suppose just duck fat and manliness], something which is allowed in this race) spilt times were – Run split; 26:20:12, wait in Dover (you have the swim the channel, the tide is a factor here!) 13:59:48, Swim split; 11:48, Wait in Calais; 3:22:00, Bike Split 18:09:12 – Overall time; 73:39:12. This final time knocked 8 hours off the fastest record.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @bigbayliss
3. The first person to row solo across an Ocean – Arguably the loneliness and toughest endurance challenge out there – John Fairfax (deceased – 2012)
Rowing an ocean – whether in a team or solo – is just plain madness and simply awesome.
John Fairfax was the first person to do it solo was in 1969 (across the Atlantic) and then the first to row the Pacific Ocean (with Sylvia Cook – the first woman to row an ocean) in 1971/72. The Atlantic row took 180 days leaving from the Canary Islands and landing in Florida. I think the magnitude of how outstanding this was, was the fact that he got a message of congratulations from the crew of Apollo 11 who had walked on the moon.
“Yours, however, was the accomplishment of one resourceful individual, while ours depended upon the help of thousands of dedicated workers in the United States and all over the world. As fellow explorers, we salute you on this great occasion.”
In fact his life was so colourful that he featured in ‘This is your life’ at the age of 33!! Check it out at includes cycling from America to Argentina by bike, living in the jungle ‘like Tarzan’ and smuggling guns, whiskey and cigarettes with pirates in Panama……….
That is some newspaper obituary!
4. ‘Colossus of roads’ – Ultra marathon world record holder – Yiannis Kouros
Yiannis Kouros, 67, holds every men’s outdoor road world record from 100 to 1,000 miles. The sheer distances involved in these races I think puts him in the ‘adventure’ category – like the Sydney to Melbourne ultramarathon in 5 days, 5 hours, 7 minutes and 6 seconds. His sheer dominance of this discipline earned him the name ‘Pheidippides Successor’ (You can google him, I wont give it away) among other Greek God references (he is in fact Greek, and starred in a movie on the story of the marathon)!
Ed Stafford
5. Amazon adventure from source to sea: Ed Stafford and Gadiel ‘Cho’ Rivera
Ed Stafford, 34, the former Amy Captain, set off in April 2008 to prove the expedition community that the 4000 trek along the Amazon wasn’t too far and that he wouldn’t get stopped by illness, dense forest, biting insects, snakes, bogs, jaguars and of course man eating tribes! He estimated it would take a year – almost 2 1/2 years and 859 continuous days of walking later he had completed his journey – man I bet that warm bed and bath afterwards was amazing!
After his expedition colleague, Luke Collyer left 3 months into the trip, Ed was joined on his trip by a Peruvian forestry worker Gadiel ‘Cho’ Rivera. Cho, who had originally planned to escort him for 5 days past drug traffickers and hostile tribes, subsequently joined him on the remainder of the trek.
Stafford was announced as one of National Geographic Adventurers of the Year 2010 and in March 2011 was awarded European Adventurer of the Year. Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes put this endeavour as ‘in the top league of expeditions past and present’ – enough said.
Follow Stafford on Twitter @Ed_Stafford
Longest swim
6. First to swim the Atlantic Ocean (without a kick board) – Benoît Lecomte
This long distance swimmer completed a 3,716 mile journey in 73 days accompanied by a 40 ft sail boat that had an electromagnetic field of 25 feet to ward off sharks. I must note at this stage that he was followed by a Great White Shark for 5 days – talking about ‘the fear’ in a race.
The swim was from Hyannis, Massachusetts to Quiberon, Brittany, France with one week stop in the Azores due to equipment failure.
This August 2013 he is setting out to be the first to swim across the Pacific Ocean…..I think we should all follow him on Twitter at @TheLongestSwim
Diana Nyad
7. Power of the mind: Record holder in non-stop swimming without a wetsuit – Diana Nyad
Diana Nyad is an athlete that demonstrated what many sports physiology studies have shown: the ‘extreme’ marathon-type activities mental determination is a more important factor than the physical energy of youth.
Like many people around the world, I followed 61 year old Nyad’s fourth attempt on August 18th 2012 to swim 103 miles (166 kilometres) from Havana to Florida Keys without a protective shark cage. Suffering from bad jellyfish stings and a bad lightening storm Diana’s attempt ended at about the halfway point. This is not a failure. She had attempted a feat (even half a feat) that many people wouldn’t even dream of at any age, and it is important to note that she felt an even stronger swimmer than in her youth.
And let’s look at her youth. Diana Nyad made headlines when at the age of 26 she swam 28 miles around the island of Manhattan (1975). She then went on in 1979 to set a distance record (which still stands) for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit of 102 miles from North Bimini Island, Bahamas to Juno Beach in Florida.
Follow her on Twitter @diananyad