Monday, February 1, 2016

Scott Molina's Epic Blogs, The Final Installment

Scott Molina's Epic Blogs, The Final Installment
By Scott Molina

Epic Camp NZ '08 Stage 6 ( err...... I mean Day 6)
Epic NZ ’08 Stage 6 ( I mean ….err…. Day 6)

Being on the South Island we were bound to get some real weather. Well today we got it. More on that later.

The day started for most of us at 6am again with a 50-minute run to the pool. Some drove straight to the lake. The wind had been up all night so I was glad not to be headed there as it was going to be very chopped up.

Most swam 3k and some of us did another 6km session. Newsom did his 3km IM set as part of his 6km and he seems determined to push Albert to the end of this camp. Albert did his 3rd 6km swim session in 3 days (plus the 4.5km open water race we did ) and was starting to look kinda pooped in there. Tara and I were doing a set of 20 x 100m on 1:30 and we had to swim around him!

After swimming we headed back to the Lookout Lodge to pack up and have breakfast before a 10:30 roll-out. The weather repost was looking kinda bleak so I packed my arm warmers, toe covers, light vest and winter vest. The smart people had full winter jackets.

Andrew Charles led the “grupetto” out 35 minutes before us as they wanted to cruise over the Crown Range.

It didn’t take long for things to get rolling and approx 25km out from the KOM it was another all-out bike race. Paul Westwood didn’t’ want to have any part of all the blistering jumps so he sensibly just rode off the front at 50kph! Beven was able to hop on his wheel and got a nice tow right to the top where he jumped away to get the KOM. I know how damn hard and fast our little group of G-Man, Mark P and Johnny and I were going and Paul disappeared in the blink of an eye. The guy can motor.

I got spat out approx 5km from the top after I had inadvertently dropped Johnny on a steep pitch. He came by later and rode fantastic for the last 5km.

By the time we got to the top it was raining hard and the temp dropped to approx 10 degrees C. I put on everything I had and headed down asap and zipped by just about everyone who were cautiously braking down the steep, slippery descent.

Marp P pulled out his special winter jacket out from under his seat. I wondered what the hell he had been carrying around in that little suitcase all this time!

At the bottom everyone went for a full change of clothes and some people were frozen. Rob Chance was a gone-burger. Then things took a big turn for the worse as the temp dropped more and the wind picked up quite dramatically. It was the kind of day where you certainly wouldn’t ride unless you were doing some thing like this camp or a race that you had been training for a very long time and had spent thousands on getting to. We decided to take the most direct route to our accom. instead of the more scenic route with reduced traffic via Arrowtown. It was very hard to hold the bike straight and we just didn’t’ know whether we were going to be blown into the road.

It was very nice to have the support crew out there to gather people up who let common sense prevail.

As I type this I’m getting the update on Albert and Johnny going out for another run this afternoon as I snoozed, stretched, had two beers and munched on licorice all-sorts. I think its pretty clear who wants the Yellow more…………

I also spoke on the phone to a good runner who lives here in Queenstown and he regularly does the long mt. run we’re doing tomorrow and it’s a biggie. It starts out with a steep 3000ft trail ascent up to the Ben Lomond saddle followed by a very long, gradual descent to Arthurs Point and then a run on the road the rest of the way back to Queenstown. G-Man has done it before too and under 2 hours at that but I think most of us will be out there near 3 hours.

We also have a solid ride planned now with the trip out to Glenorchy and back on the menu since we weren’t able to do it today. Plus a swim of course.

At least the weather report isn’t tooooo bad…………

Time for dinner and a little tour of town.

I have been quite in adequate in my role as social convener. Time to start making up for lost time.

Epic Camp NZ '08 Day 7 - Queenstown
Epic NZ ’08 Day 7 – Queenstown

I have so many memories of this place.

This is a magical little part of the world.

When I first met Erin she had a holiday house here in a suburb called Sunshine Bay with a glorious view of Lake Wakitipu. We spent a lot of time here during the NZ summers of ’88 – ’93 before our first child came along. The days are long and hot here and the desert lizard in me loves it. We usually didn’t’ have any important races that were imminent either so the training was long and leisurely. So I suppose my view of the routes we were going to use on this camp was through rose colored glasses!

My old friend John Knight lives here and is one of the owners of a shop called Outside Sports which is one of the finest outdoor sports shops I’ve ever been in. They have everything a climber, runner, backpacker, camper, skier, cyclist, etc could want. The South Island is home to quite a few apparel companies that produce some wonderful and practical Merino wool garments and its plentiful in a dozen shops here in Queenstown.

The run we did today I did back in ’89 with Colleen Cannon (remember her? Go to to see what she’s up to now. Fabulous camps.) and her husband Howard and Erin. We also ran the Routeburn track that summer and Colleen always brought along little treats to feed us along the way. We did this route in the reverse direction that we did today and I vaguely remember it being a full day out.

I thought it might be around 2.5-3 hours and it did turn out to be just that for the few of us who didn’t take any wrong turns. Unfortunately hardly anyone went the right way!

We left town at 7am and went straight up to the Ben Lomond Saddle which is approx 3,000ft up. Lots of it was power walking. Its steep.

Once we hit the top is was quite a bit cooler and we started the long descent down the Moonlight track towards Arthurs Point. The track is pretty narrow, mostly covered in tussock and hard to follow at times at this point. It could use a little more maintenance from the Rangers and certainly much better sign posting. At approx the 2:30 point into the run I saw the group who was ahead of me about 400 feet below me at the bottom of a ravine. That ravine was covered in gorse and stinging nettles and it looked like they were in for a very long day as I waved good-bye!

Up ahead Clive ripped the crap out of everyone on the descents and was gone. I ended up with a running time of 3:05 and can’t imagine doing it in anything under 2:45 even when fit and fresh.

The stragglers came in after 4 hours. HUGE! Damn tough day after what we’ve been up to in the previous week.

A quick couple of beers to recover (?? was it just me again ??) and some breakfast and we were off to the pool. I don’t think anyone did more than 3k today. No one drowned which was a little surprising.

Then lunch and a few minutes to get the feet up and it was time for a 2pm roll-out for the ride. Sunny 24 degrees C and no wind. Beautiful Otago summer day. The route today was straight over to the road up to the Coronet Peak ski area to begin with. Since we’re doing a tri that goes up there tomorrow G-Man figured it was a good idea to let everyone preview the route to see what they were in for. Since I hadn’t ridden it in approx 15 years I forgot how damn hard it is. Its 8km up at 10-12% for the most part. I was melting.

Beven disappeared up the road again pretty quickly with support crew MacAteer, then John Drury came by, then Gordo, then Newsom and then nearly everyone else caught by the top.

Just for the record – I thought having a KOM up that monster climb today was a bit much. A nice little tour of the area with a stop in Arrowtown for a nice coffee and scone would have been my choice for the day but “the committee” seemed to have other ideas.

After the descent we back-tracked the bike route to Lake Hayes so everyone could see the route for the tri tomorrow. Huge day. Way harder than I thought it would be. As we were having dinner G-Man totaled up the points for the camp and it looks like Albert would have to either crash or DNF in out tri tomorrow not to take Yellow.

However I am only a point behind Johnny and Tara is only a couple of points behind me so we should have a nice little battle tomorrow for the podium. Actually…

it would take a small miracle for me to hang with Johnny on that mountain we’re going up again. He’s going very well now. And that’s great to see because he’s never actually completed an entire Epic before. Now that he has I feel like he has a little more compassion for our fellow campers like G-Man and I have since we’ve suffered through every camp. As he starts to put on his own camps this year I think he’ll probably use good doses of prudence and caution with his selection of routes and training sessions.

Tomorrow is our camp Tri. After breakfast we’ll spin the 15km out to the start. The race will be a swim of at least 3km in lake Hayes, a ride over to and up Coronet Peak and a run to the top of the mountain on the CAT track dirt access rd. The finish line is approx 3,000 ft. above the lake. Should be a doozy!

Epic Camp NZ '08 Day 8
Epic NZ ’08 Day 8 – Coronet Peak Tri

Not everyone rode up the mt. yesterday so they had that little surprise awaiting them this morning. The rest of us weren’t so lucky. But it did look to be quite a bit cooler this time up so that was something to be thankful for.

We rolled out to the lake at 7:30am and Andrew and Tara got left behind and ended up going the long way to Lake Hayes. We had sent the search party out for them! Otherwise for the rest of us it was a nice leisurely 15km wake-up.

We got underway with a swim across to touch the other side and back. Albert announced at the start “I am NOT going to go hard” and when Johnny said go he promptly blasted off the front once again with everyone scrambling to get on his feet. We also had Monica Byrn and support crew Rob joining us so I hopped on their feet for a nice ride the whole way.

Nice day for a Tri as it was calm and cool. G-man and Mark P caught Johnny and I at approx the 10km point and we settled in to prepare for another trip up that 8km climb.

Newsom seemed determined to take it out and there wasn’t much we could do to deny him. Mark P dropped off the back just enough to give me a little breathing room for the run.

The run turned out to be quite a lot steeper than I imagined and it was nearly 1/3 walking for me. Some guys decided to take the most direct route up and were bush-wacking through the tussock. On the chairlift ride down from the summit I saw Rob Chance hiking up with a walking stick! He looked like he might be out there all day.

The final order of the Tri was:

Newsom, G-Man, Me, Mark P, Albert, Toby, Clive, Tara, ???? and to be fair it did seem like most were just content to get to the top and finish.

A special note here regarding our oldest camper (YES! Even older than me!) Andrew Chirnside from Melbourne who completed every session the entire camp. When Andrew wrote to us initially to enquire about attending this camp I thought his credentials didn’t look all that impressive. I thought he’d really struggle to keep up, but he more than proved me wrong. And he did it with good humor and a smile on his face most of the time.

What a view from the top of that mountain. Man.

No wind and you could see about 100 miles. Nothing but wilderness and beyond that thousands of miles of ocean. Being up there really did give me a deep feeling of contentment about my choice to live here on this remote little island.
We then hopped on the Gondola for the ride back down to the bikes and then rolled back to our accom.

With the camp over it was time to get the feet up and after a quick couple of beers to recover (?? was it only me ??) we did some packing and snoozing. We also had a little Q & A to chat about how to deal with the fatigue from the camp and how folks might use it in the context of their season.

We said good-bye to Albert, Clive and Mark Petrofesa who had afternoon flights out of Queenstown. Clive is headed back to Auckland so his flight was pretty easy but I hope Albert and Mark had a couple of pairs of compression socks/tights to wear or else their “cankles” are gonna be atrocious. It is a very long trip from here to anywhere and Kevin and Anthony are heading back to NY, NY tomorrow which is a hell of a trip.

We headed down to dinner at 6 and had a great meal at the Lonestar Café which is know through-out NZ for massive portions. We handed out a few fun awards as we usually do after each camp and then went on in search of some local watering holes. Plenty of those to chose from. Elliott is bartending here this summer so we headed over to his place to begin with. The young MIT grad is an engineer by trade but is taking some time out to try a different life experience here in wild NZ. Hard to imagine him going back to a desk job with that Mohawk!

More tomorrow or the next day in my wrap-up/Epilogue.

Epic Camp NZ '08 Epilogue

Epic NZ ’08 Epilogue

At the end of June Newsom and Beven are putting on a camp in the Pyrenees with our good friends Ian and Julie Wright ( That camp – the camp - is called Camp Kia Kaha for those of you who might want to do some great training in the Pyrenees.

I fully appreciate that most of the people here do have to make some serious choices in their lives to continue to live a triathlon lifestyle and coming to these camps is another tough choice to make. Constable Mike from Auckland says he dumped his missus to come to Epic! That’s the type of customer we like!

For those partners, kids, other family and support crew back home who have let us share your triathlete for this camp I’d like to say a big thank you. I’m hopeful that they’ll come back to you with a positive attitude from this experience.

Albert has been talking about taking a year or two off from racing after this camp and he does actually seem to mean it! If in fact some of the campers don’t race much after this camp but still feel like they had a great experience then I feel really good about what we’ve provided.

As I’ve said many times these camps aren’t just about preparing for a specific race or season. I hope they will stand on their own as something worthwhile to do for the folks who’ve done just about everything already.

A guy like Albert who’s won so many races and even won big races over-all (not just his age group) back-to-back on the same weekend………… well there’s not a lot of new and challenging experiences out there for a guy like him. I hope these camps can provide something even a guy like him can get amped up for.

To those of you have come on your 3rd or 4th Epic Camp I want to say a special thanks. You are always welcome, we’ll make it a priority to continue to structure and build the camps to suit you. You’re great company and you guys give me hope that I can keep doing this. You help me “keep hope alive!!!” as G-Man says.

Until the next one in Italy in June…….…

Train Hard
Satiate the Need