Posted by: Bruce Duncan | July 18, 2011

Summer Training and other stuff

I have been busy over the last few weeks, after pulling out of the 3 Peaks Yacht Race, I’ve been training as hard as I can, and working to improve the niggles I’ve got with my knees. Training has been going well, getting some good running in, and some swimming. Cycling has been on hold slightly, some wee pikeys stole my road bike a few weeks ago, they sliced through 3 locks to nab it, it was bright orange and huge, who would want it??? The bike wasn’t worth much money, but the annoyance of it was huge, and my pedals were worth a fair bit.

Luckily I was only without a bike for a week, but typically that week would have been perfect for cycling. (I now have a new Boardman bike, its not the flash model, but does the job fantastically, so huge thanks to Halfords for sorting me out.)

Bright sunny mountain biking in the Lakes

I headed up to the Lake District with my girlfriend for a great weekend, after picking Maz up from the Henley Regatta, where I have never felt more out of place in all my life, we had a great time, swimming in Derwent Water, mountain biking up at Whinlatter, running and walking in the glorious sunshine.

This was followed by a trip to the Rounsley Household near Telford. Jim had been fantastic as one of chief supporters during The Epic Tri, and his school were holding a charity week, with a non uniform day raising funds towards our total for Cancer Research UK. I went along to speak to the school about our Epic Tri and thank them for their help. It was great fun, and I had some great questions from the kids, and some startled looks when I read out the stats from our journey.

I then had a fantastic night at Lords Cricket ground watching a T20 county match from the main pavilion, my good friend Emma had got my best friend Tom and I tickets to this prestigious place, and we both loved it.

A weekend in Scotland followed, working for Wildfox Events at the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon, a brilliant event based around Loch Tay, a swim, mountain run, kayak and road bike.

Mark and I meeting Mark Webber in London

This past week I was very busy, I got an invite to a PR launch for the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenege, meeting the man himself too was pretty cool. The next day Nick and I met with Wenger to be presented with some great watches for our victory in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, then I was up to my old school, Thomas Alleynes High School, which I left 12 years ago!

Terry Cordy presenting Nick and I with a Nomad Wenger Watch

I was there to talk about The Epic Tri, and adventure racing in general. I spoke to the 6th form and then to some A-Level and GCSE PE classes discussing many of the theory they study, and trying to put it into real life terms. It was a great day, and again they are holding a non uniform day in aid of Cancer Research UK. It was odd being back at my old school, and especially calling my old teachers by their first names! But I really enjoyed myself, seeing the inspiration on some of the faces I spoke to is very rewarding.

I have a good summer planned ahead, my training is going well, no issues with my knees at the moment, having seen super Sue Read and also attending regular yoga classes seems to have eased things a lot. I am heading to Yorkshire and then Scotland for a few weeks, which should be perfect training for the Gaelforce West race in August, and also the adidasTERREX coast to coast.

This week is going to be spent doing some planning for the upcoming Tri Adventure races in the Autumn, planning to get out and test ride the courses on my bike tomorrow, after a rest day today. I got some good road miles in this weekend on my new bike, riding to my friends house for his 30th birthday. The weather was horrific, torrential rain, and I managed to get a puncture, and with no tyre levers (they were on my sideboard when I got home!) I had to improvise and use the quick release skewers to get the tyre off the rim, only took me about 30mins to sort it out, (5 mins when I thought of using the QR’s!).

I’ll hopefully post some updates when I am away training, that’s it for now, best get on with some work!

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | June 23, 2011

Niggles and Other excuses

I was due to be heading to North Wales today to compete in the 3 Peaks Yacht Race.  I was really looking forward to it, but I have sadly pulled out, due to a few things.  Mainly, I’m not fit enough at the moment.  I haven’t done much training post Epic Tri, and I was hoping I’d be able to get more in the last month, but I have had a few niggles and also been very busy with work.  All this sums up to mean that it would be silly to race in such a bad state, especially with Gareth, who is very fit just now.

Having been away on the road for about 3 weeks I intend to have a  quiet weekend, running and cycling from home, and not travelling far.  I am away most weekends till the end of September, so this will be a nice rest at home.

I do intend to get back into my training though. Starting with something I have been talking about for ages. Yoga.  I am going to go along and try some Bikram yoga tomorrow in Richmond, this is yoga in a room at 40deg C!!

I have never been to a yoga class, so it will be a bit of a learning curve, but having seen the results of many of my friends who regularly go to such classes it has to be a good thing.  They are all fitter and less injury troubled than ever before.  Up until now with work I have never known when i’d be able to go, so now I have a few months of free time, its time to get into it, and hopefully reap the benefits.

The big prize for me is the Gaelforce West Race in mid August, and then the adidasTERREX coast to coast the following week.  These 2 races have been planned for a while now, and I am very excited about getting strong and fast for them to be able to compete right at the top of both leader boards.

Gaelforce West is a solo race, and the adidasTERREX race is in a team of 3.  Racing in Ireland will be new for me, I have never been, so really looking forward to getting over there, fingers crossed the weather is good so I can enjoy the amazing views so many people have told me about.

Fingers crossed I will be super strong and fit very soon, with the yoga classes, the free time to train, and hopefully some good time with Super Sue in the Lakes to get me in shape, I should be on track to race well in August.

Finally, I hope that summer arrives and it is actually warm to train outside, rather than this autumn we seem to be enduring at present!

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | May 19, 2011

Whats next

At the finish line of the DW

At the finish line of the DW

I am having a quiet few weeks at the moment. The Epic Tri was huge, and took a lot out of me, both physically and mentally, and it is taking me a while to get over it.

After spending so much time on a challenge it is very odd when its all over, for 18 months Ant and I were planning the epic, and then all of a sudden its done and dusted (well not quite all of a sudden, we certainly noticed it taking place).  A huge void is left, where you were recently planning logistics and working out which route you would take, and who would help at each location.  This can quickly lead to mild depression, which when mixed with the physical fatigue can really take a hold of you.

Luckily I have had some busy weekends of social activities, my whole family were together the first weekend after the Epic, so a lovely weekend in the glorious sunny hill of the Lake District was had, and then the following weekend we had a big bbq to say thank you to so many people who had helped us during the Epic.  This was held at Ants house, and the weather had turned big time, luckily James Thurlow from Open Adventure lent us his huge gazebos to cover most of the garden, along with a few smaller ones we all stayed dry despite the torrential thunder and lightning storm.

Last weekend I had a very relaxed weekend with my girlfriend, enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside, with no plans and no training it was lovely to just relax.  Sitting by a pool, jumping into the sauna, all the things I never really do, so once in a while its great, I think I could only do it once a year though, I did start to get a bit stir crazy after 4 hours!

Cheeky Monkey about to rip the car apart!

Cheeky Monkey about to rip the car apart!

I feel that I am well on the way out of the pit I had found myself in, and with new targets on the horizon to focus on I’m feeling really good.  This week I have swum in the Serpentine as my girlfriend is training for a triathlon, so I joined in, swimming is hard work!  Then I got a good cycle in last night after visiting my friend Johnnie Mayne from Tri Adventure.  Today I cycled into work for the first time, and it was brilliant fun, I felt great and loved the fact that I wasn’t on the tube squashed into someones armpit and paying lots of money for it too!

This weekend is the first weekend back into training though, not my usual sport, I’m off Ocean Rowing with Mark Beaumont and the guys he is joining as cameraman/oars man to row to the North Pole in the summer.  They are a man down for training so Mark asked me if I fancied coming along.  I was planning on going to the rugby and a party, but with my body and mind telling me to get back into training, this was too big a chance to pass up on.

Further than that, I am starting to train for the 3 Peaks Yacht Race at the end of June, I am running this with my friend Gareth Craft, who has been going very fast recently, winning some off road marathons, so best get fit for that one.  Then in August I am heading over to Ireland to take part in Gaelforce West, a huge multisport race on the glorious West coast of Ireland.  I can’t wait for this race, its going to be full on and a real challenge.  The next week is the adidasTERREX coast to coast, I have not decided if I’ll race this as a solo or as part of a team, I am hatching a plan to potentially race with a pretty serious multisport athlete, so wait and see.

So its back into the thick of it for me, I can’t wait, I have really started to miss all the training, and that feeling of having done a really tough session, I’m aware I’m a bit odd, I just like it!

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | April 28, 2011

The Epic Tri – Done

Last week was certainly the toughest I have ever had, taking on the 3 biggest endurance challenges possible in the UK and doing them non stop back to back was huge.  I was broken at the finish line, and there had been many times over the week that I thought we wouldn’t make it to the finish.  However with the fantastic support of our friends, and strangers we kept pushing and have raised a huge amount of money for Cancer Research UK.

For all the info and pictures and vidoes check out our epic tri web page hereThe Epic Tri, I have  not got round to doing a write up yet, still loads spinning around my head.  Suffice to say it lived up to its name, it really was an Epic Tri.

I have lots more challenges ahead now, including the 3 peaks Yacht race, Gaelforce West, adidasTERREX Coast to Coast and a few wee events.

Once I have recovered I’ll be back updating this a bit more.

Bruce

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | April 14, 2011

The Epic Starts Soon

This time next week Ant Emmet and myself will be on a bike, somewhere south of Manchester, having been cycling for almost 40hours!  It is going to be a huge challenge, and we are both really looking forward to it.

To follow how we get on please check our website,The Epic Tri and also follow us on twitter @theepictri and also our facebook page The Epic Tri Facebook

There will be regular updates on all of these hopefully, and the live tracking will show where we are, and how we are getting on. Don’t forget to sponsor us too, its all for Cancer Research UK, please make it worth it. Virgin Giving Page


Many thanks for all your help and support over the past few months.

See you on the otherside…..

Ant and Bruce ready to ride

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | April 7, 2011

April already

This year is flying past so fast.  How is it April already??  It seems like only yesterday that I got back from Patagonia.

The most scary thing about it being April, is that Ant Emmet and I set out to complete our Epic Tri very soon, starting on the 18th April.  We have been talking and planning about it for over a year now, and finally its less than 2 weeks away, thats scary.  Where has the time gone?  We are however prepared for it.  We have been training hard, running, biking and kayaking, and now resting up for the big week.

Our wooden kayak ready to paddle from Marlow

Our wooden kayak ready to paddle from Marlow

Most weekends in the past month have seen us spend long hours on the tandem and in the kayak, with this last weekend being the final long paddle in our super flash wooden kayak.  We had only been in it once before, and this was the big tester, read about it all here Big Training Weekend

Now its all about getting all the little things sorted, getting kit together, making sure all our support crew are sorted, and that everyone knows where to be at what time, who is doing what, and most importantly, what cake we will be eating when!!

Ant is away this weekend at his Brothers wedding, but I am off to the Lakes for some work, so will mix that with getting loads of kit ready, before I head back up next week for the big one.  There isn’t too much more we can do, other than get our running shoes on and get on with it.

Fundraising is going well, we have almost broken the £6000 mark, and would love to see this go up to £25000 by the end, so please do spread the word, and support us.

Many thanks, and keep an eye on our main site for event information, tracking, reports.

The Epic Tri

Bruce

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | March 11, 2011

Time is ticking by – The Epic Tri

April is getting very close now.  With Pancake Tuesday having just passed marking 40 days and nights to Easter.

This is a scary thought for myself, knowing that by the end of Easter Ant Emmet and myself will have run the Bob Graham, cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End, and then kayaked from Devizes to Westminster.  This doesn’t sound too bad, but we are cramming it all into the one week, well 6 ½ days actually.  This is each event, non stop back to back.

Ant and Bruce kayak training in their custom built wooden kayak

This is all part of The Epic Tri, a huge challenge that we have set ourselves in order to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK, a charity that is sadly very close to both of us.

Ant and I are both very keen adventure racers, and as such felt we couldn’t just do a normal 10km run, we thought something a bit bigger was in order, and you can’t get much bigger than this.  The 3 toughest endurance events in each discipline in the UK.

It is going to be very tough on both of us, both physically and mentally, but we know that at the end of it all, we can sit down and rest, safe in the knowledge that next week, although we may be a bit tired and sore, there is nothing wrong with us.  Thousands of cancer suffers can never do that, they can never turn off their pain and anguish and worry.

Please help us to raise as much money as we possibly can, hopefully you agree with us that this is a monumental undertaking and not your standard ask for sponsorship.

Regular updates will be going up on our event web page, and on both our twitter feeds

The Epic Tri

twitter : @brucejduncan

twitter : @antemmet

Thank you in advance, please spread the word and help the cause.

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | March 10, 2011

Patagonia Kit – What we used in the race

Below is a list of the main pieces of kit that we used during the race.  This has been refined over the past few years, so nothing that I took wasn’t used.  Some of these pieces of kit aren’t the usual superlight items, but they are the best for this event.

OMM Backpack

Jirishanka pack

We used the OMM Jirishanka rucsac.  It is 30L and pretty heavyweight compared to the other OMM packs we use for most adventure races.  However Patagonia requires more robust equipment, and generally larger volumes as you need to carry kit and food for up to 4 days!

The Jirishanka has been perfect for the past 2 years, incredibly robust, very water resistant, we swam a river last year and no water got in (our kit was in dry bags too).  With the added frontal water bottle holders to ens

ure we don’t lose anything to the evil forest, and the elastic cords on the side pockets these packs take a heck of a beating and show very little signs of any failure, my pack has done over 250hrs of racing in Patagonia now and is starting to show signs of fatigue, but only very minor, all the major functions are as good as new.  The other great thing about the pack is the back foam, it slides out of the pack, and folds out to be a very comfy lightweight sleeping mat, which for this race is perfect.

Jirishanka Pack

adidasTERREX Jacket

adidas TERREX Jacket

The new TERREX Gore-Tex jacket got a bit of a baptism of fire, being used to protect us as we bush whacked through a very thick mangrove-esque forest, and then abrased as we climbed up over a high mountain pass before dropping to the coast in the rain.  No water even came close to coming through the jackets, and they were very comfy to run in while carrying a pack.

Salewa Krypton Helmet

Fi sporting the Salewa Krypton multissport helmet

The krypton multisport helmet is a must for any adventure race.  A comfy snug fit with enough vents to keep you cool while cycling in the heat.  With our exposure joystick mount fitting neatly onto the helmet too, it is the perfect helmet for any race.

Salewa Krypton Helmet

adidas Evil Eye glasses

all the team sporting the Evil Eye glasses

I have always worn glasses to ride in, and the Evil Eye glasses are probably the comfiest ones I have ever worn.  They are a tight fit without putting any pressure on your head as you push hard, an area where many lesser glasses cause huge headaches when your heart rate gets up.  This year they were invaluable, the first mountain bike was into gusts of 60km/h, leaving Marks glasses pockmarked by flying stones!  The amazing sunshine we experienced was very welcome, and the glasses kept the suns glare easily at bay.

Evil Eye

adidas Zero shoes

These shoes were brilliant, I had used them a lot before going out, but this was there first test in race conditions, wearing them for days at a time in very rough terrain.  They stood up very well, I suffered no sores or blisters, and the shoes stayed in good condition throughout the race.  A very comfy shoe with good grip and tight lacing system.

peronin food drink

With having to carry so much food for such long sections, we were on one trekking section for over 2 days, trying to carry as many calories as possible for as little weight as possible was crucial.  Peronin is a powdered meal replacement drink, we had both chocolate and vanilla flavour, and mixed with the lovely fresh Patagonian stream water they tasted really good.  They were very quick and simple to make up, allowing us to stop very briefly to get them made up and then drink on the move.  We chose to take the individual portion packs rather than the large tubs, as this meant we could easily carry them, and not have to worry about measuring out quantities.

Peronin

Fully clad in Paramo

Paramo Kit

Paramo makes fantastic kit.  It is designed to cope with British weather, which is much the same as Patagonian weather.  Bush bashing through thick vegetation means water is pressed against the jacket and trousers constantly.  Gore-Tex doesn’t work in those conditions, but our Paramo kit kept us not only totally dry, but also warm.  We didn’t have any rips or holes appear in our kit unlike many Gore-Tex users, and the best part was putting your kit on in the morning, it was instantly cosy no matter how wet it was on the outside.  Heavier than the lightweight jackets you can get these days, but worth their weight in gold for their function.  It had many teams very jealous.

Paramo Kit

Marmot Sleeping bag and Terra Nova Sleeping bag cover

All of us in our sleeping bags and covers

Patagonia is a wet place, and no matter how hard you try, your sleeping bag will get damp at least.  We were all using the Marmot 40pounder synthetic bag with the Terra Nova Moonlite bag cover.  Our bags were kept in a fantastic state all the way through the race, and allowed us to sleep outside just on the soft ground without worry of getting soaked kit.#

Moonlite Bag Cover

Marmot Sleeping Bag

FGS Powders

For Goodness Shakes Powders

With a long non stop race, we needed to keep on top of our recovery, so FGS powders were perfect for this.  We used them in a few ways, as just a pure powder recovery drink, and then also as a cereal bomb, before the race we had put an FGS powder and some granola into a zip lock bag, then during the race added water, instant breakfast, refreshing, tasty and good for us.

For Goodness Shakes

Mark, clearly loving his Racing Ralphs

Schwalbe Tyres

We all used Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph tubeless tyres for the race.  The riding is generally on gravel tracks, so the low rolling resistance of these tyres was perfect for the race.  With tubeless tyres we also knew we would escape any punctures, and with some riding over very sharp rocks in places this was the case.

Exposure Lights

Exposure Lights - brighter than all the rest!

We used a combination of Maxx d’s and joystick on the bike, although we never got to use them as we managed to do all the cycling in the daylight.

For the trekking sections we all carried a joystick in a head strap for brilliant hands free illumination.  These torches are amazing, such huge light power for so long, and so small.  We carried a few piggy back batteries just in case, but never had to use them.  To boost our night vision and to help us plan routes from high points we had the new Diablo.  This is a phenomenal piece of kit. It beams out so much light and gives us such a huge advantage for the price of carrying very little weight.  When we were

Exposure Lights

Team adidasTERREX Prunesco

I arrived back to London last night from Chilean Patagonia.  It has been another amazing 2 weeks taking on the true wilderness that the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race (WPER) sends you to.  With a different team taking on the challenge this year, and no idea of the level of competition before we got there, we were a bit nervous about the race.  However, we raced really strongly together, and came away as winners once again, making it 3 in a row for Mark and myself.

The race this year started in Torres Del Paine national park with a very windy mountain bike ride, followed by a kayak down the Lago Grey then onto the first trek.  It was here that we started to impose a lead, running off to get a gap from the other teams.  The first trek was much tougher than previous years, taking us almost 2 days to complete.  The 2nd kayak was stunning though, along a beautiful fjord lined with amazing glaciers, it really was a special place.  Kayaking through mini icebergs and with dolphins swimming nearby really sets this race apart from any others.

The long trek was long, meant to be 191km it looked very daunting, and after 77km and over 2 days of trekking we arrived at our 2nd food bag.  With the heavy rain filling the rivers to bursting point, and the speed of the teams it was decided to cut the trek short and take us straight to the final bike, I think this was a great decision as I really don’t think anyone would have finished the race in time.  Arriving at a wet and windy Gaucho station, we set up our bike for the final 188km, of mountain biking, this took us right across the plains of Patagonia, something not too different from the wide open grasslands of Africa.

Me cycling through Torres Del Paine, a very windy ride (TC Worley)

Finishing the race in Pali Aike Volcanic Park was stunning too, the finish line was in the middle of an extinct volcanic crater, surrounded by many more all drenched in sunshine, what a great end to the race.

3 in a row is pretty special, and it has been amazing fun racing out in Patagonia.  Will I return? who knows, but what I do know is that there are many more amazing places I’d like to travel to as well, but I would like to return to Patagonia one day, but maybe as a tourist!

Posted by: Bruce Duncan | February 2, 2011

Last minute training and Packing

It has been a busy few weeks since the training event with the BBC, but we managed to meet up again last week to practice our rolling in a double kayak.  Mark and I have done this before in the race skills test for Patagonia, and it means that you don’t have to swim, so its worth being able to do it well.

We met up in Chiswick to get the boat, and then took it to the swimming pool in Ealing where Nicks club practice.  As we walked in Nick remarked at how busy it was, last time he’d been there were only 5 other people there!  So we squeezed our 6m long kayak into the already busy water, and began practicing.  I will be paddling with Fi in Patagonia, so we had a go first.  Fi has only just learnt to roll, and on the opposite side to me, so that was a slight issue.  We had a few goes, and were getting there.  Mid way through however Fi managed to clunk me on the head with her paddle, giving me a nice cut above my right eye!

We finally managed to roll the boat, but then my brain got fried, it usually happens, you start over thinking the whole thing, and then can’t do it.  So Nick and Mark had a go, and they have got it sorted, so should be fine, fingers crossed it goes OK out at the race.

After a fun weekend working at the Trail Plus event near Pirbright, I was back to the Lake District to get some more things for Patagonia, and to do some training with Ant Emmet in preparation for my next huge challenge, The Epic Tri.  This involved getting out on the tandem for the first time, and also testing our new K2 Kayak.

Testing out the tandem

Ant and myself jumped on the tandem for a 2 hour ride, taking it from the house to Stavely and back via Underbarrow and over the Kendal Scar.  This was perfect for us to test out the riding on the bike, through towns, steep ups and downs, tight and open corners and with busy cars coming past.  It was a bit hairy to start with, but we soon got the rhythm going ok, it needs some tweaks and we need lots more practice, but we got going really well in the end.  I was on the front of the bike this time, but the other one is set up so that Ant is on the front and I can take a break at the back.  It is very odd on the back Ant tells me, you can’t make any movements at all as you will end up steering the bike, its a case of look forward and don’t move anything other than your legs!

Last night I went to pick up the kayak from Phil at Fyne Boat Kits, and we took it out for its inaugural paddle this morning on the Canal.  There are no fixed seats in the boat at the moment, as we wanted to see what position worked for us, and to get everything set before Phil fixes things in place, so it was a little uncomfortable on the foam seats, and we quickly realised that they were at the wrong angle.

Our new kayak, about to get wet for the first time

The kayak however is gorgeous, it paddles really well, and already slices through the water, so it should fly along once Phil has finished it up, with lovely varnish and wax on the hull.  Phil took some video and pictures which we will have on our The Epic Tri page as soon as possible.

Lots more work needs to be done by Ant and myself.  Ant has the bit between his teeth though, training very hard at the moment coming back from his knee injury, I will be racing in Patagonia for the next 2 weeks, but will have to be back on it pretty soon after I return.

Please follow how we are going, and tell as many folk as you can to spread the word about our challenge, so we can raise as much money as possible.

 

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