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Acclimatisation - Sunshine Coast 70.3 World Championships

Julie & Nina Derron, Kim Kilgroe with Robbie Haywood at Noosa earlier this year.

Following on from Cam Watt’s Q&A article on the Ironman 70​.3 World Championships we would like to thank all who contacted us and passed on how it helped.

One common follow up inquiry that came from Cam’s post was: ‘What would be the optimum timing for arriving in Australia ahead of the race?’ Many of our age group athletes will never have traveled so far to a competition before.

There are many different answers to this question (and all very individual), but I hope to quell the fears of those athletes who don’t have the option of arriving weeks in advance to give themselves time to acclimatise.

If you require a strict time schedule and can only arrive couple of days before the race – let me say the shorter time you arrive before the race day the better. We have used this strategy on many occasions with great success. I’ve seen Loretta Harrop win World Cups arriving on the other side of the world the day before the race. I’ve seen Jodie Swallow come off a red eye flight crossing the date line at 8am the morning of the race and then nail it three hours later.

What’s the secret? While one worries about disrupted sleep, if one is able to take short catnaps when tired and doesn’t try to force the rest – the below strategy is fine if you can mentally cope:

Don’t give the body time to start the adaption process to the time change. Instead, face the race as you are. I assure you that you will do a better job than flying in on the dreaded Day 7 pre-race schedule.

The 7-day option is the killer. What happens with this time frame is your body begins the acclimatization process, which starts around the third day. The body’s performance levels then start to drop as you naturally are dealing with the travel demands and the timeline difference to your home country.

So we advise to avoid arriving one week before if you are going after your best performance.

The only time we try to acclimatise using this strategy is when we have at least 10 days. This way after the low that usually hits on day three, by day seven the body starts to bounce back from the arduous European or American travel time to Australia.

If you can afford to come in at this type of time frame, you will be ensuring you’re taking the best line between affordability and best practice.

It’s obviously different from where you are travelling from. Our New Zealand racers have little to worry about. Even those based in Asia don’t have to over stress coming to Australia either. Even though the trip may be long (8-10 hours), there is no signifcant time shift across the dateline. 1-2 hours max. So a 10 hour trip is hardly different from a 3 hour one on the body, except it’s more boring.

The bigger difficulties arise when one is coming from Europe and the USA. One tip for those who haven’t booked their trip yet: Making long haul flights our team always goes as far as we can towards our destination before crossing the time zone. Then we break at that point of a destination, get a good night’s sleep, before making the onward destination. While the research into this is a little daunting, it makes such a difference in recovering quicker from a long, long journey.

One last point for those racing in Australia: The heat you will come across on the Sunshine Coast is very different. I’ve been outside on pool decks in Europe and Asia for over 3 hours at 35C with no sunburn. On my last visit to Australia in Sydney last year, it was 18C, cloudy and my Swiss family were bright red within 2 hours.

With the hole in the ozone layer sitting right above Australia and New Zealand don’t be fooled by forecasts of a ‘mild’ winter day of 25C. Cover up or you will burn very quickly. That will have a nasty affect on your racing.

I wish all the makes the trek to my country of birth a great adventure. You will be racing in a super location.


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