Paul Kaye ‘The Voice’ of Ironman Interview

Paul Kaye Ironman Kalmar 2103

We’ve barely had a chance to finish off the last of the mince pies and the 2014 race season is upon us. Well, at least in South Africa.

If you completed a 70.3 or Ironman last year (good skills) in SA, the UK or Europe last year, there’s a very real chance that the chap who called you over the finish line or belted out those famous words every aspiring Ironman wants to hear, was Paul Kaye ‘The Voice’ of Ironman.

 We’ve been lucky enough to throw a few questions at Kayeman post season opening South Africa 70.3, which took place at the end of January and saw Brit Jodie Swallow winning the ladies – making it 4 in a row.

Briefly, talk us through the journey you’ve taken to reach a point where you get to shout, “Troy Squires…YOU are an IRONMAN!”

A journey it has been! I started my working life at the age of 20 as a DJ on Cape Town’s biggest commercial radio station, Good Hope FM (no – not religious – named after the Cape of Good Hope!). During that time I also used to do the sports reporting. Through this I got involved in announcing some boat racing – and that’s how I got into announcing. I started my affiliation with triathlon back in 1994, doing the TV voice-overs for a Sprint Series in SA. The series used to open in Mauritius and in 2000 I was invited to go. There the pros (including the likes of Raynard Tissink) chirped me that it sounded like I knew what I was talking about – but had I ever done a tri? I hadn’t! It was the day before my 30th, I had been in radio station management the previous three years and wasn’t in any shape at all. But I donned my speedo and suffered through the 600m swim (I was last out the water) wobbled across the beach to T1 and put on the event cotton tee and jumped onto the hotel MTB (farm gate with wheels – a shocker) and set off on the 20K bike. I was second last on the run, and they were clearing the water points when I ran through. But – I was hooked, I absolutely loved it.

 When I got home I put slicks on my ancient MTB and did a few more events and quickly realised I needed a road bike. I bought my first road bike 24 Dec 2000.After that things moved quite quickly. I did some road races and my first half marathon in 2001 and that year also announced my first Ironman – at Gordons Bay – won by the legendary Lothar Leder.The last time I went back to Mauritius in 2002, I actually finished in the top 10 – considering that in 2000 my 5K time was 31 minutes and some change.

 In 2004 I raced the half Ironman in Port Elizabeth and have been announcing that event since 2005. 2008 I raced Ironman Austria and again in 2009, but in 2010 I announced Austria and that was my first international Ironman. 2011 I announced 5 events in Europe, 2012 it was 11 and last year 13. 2014 could be as many as 17 events (excluding South African IM events).

 We estimated recently that I must have given about 20,000 high-5’s…..last year alone.

 Speaking of journeys, once the European races kick-off, it’s pretty much a new city every weekend for the rest of the year. How’s 2014 looking?

 This year is looking power – so many great events, so many new events. I start in Mallorca early May and finish there with the new full at the end of September. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with everyone again and making new friends at the new events like Budapest, Aarhus, Ruegen…

 How do you handle the hours of emotional intensity on the Ironman red carpet?

Hmmm – so hard to answer – other than after an event I’m absolutely broken for days – feel as if I physically raced the event myself. But truth be told – it’s the emotion that fuels me and inspires me. Being able to contribute towards people doing something that is almost impossible. Watching them achieve, reach, exceed their goals. Seeing and feeling their utter sense of accomplishment – it fuels me. Not to mention witnessing first hand the amazing talents of our pros. Coupled to that, I try and keep fit. I’m 45 this year – so it gets harder, but I try and arrive in Europe with a base fitness that I try and maintain, which isn’t easy with all the travelling.

What elements make for an ideal race venue and if pushed to name a top 3, which would they be?

Great scenery, a relatively challenging race course, and awesome spectators – to me it’s all about the atmosphere and in a community that is passionate and wants ironman there – you get that. Different races are great for different reasons. I think Ironman Austria is awesome, massive finish line party and crowds, awesome race course. Ironman Sweden is also very special, the Swedes totally embrace having Ironman in Kalmar. 70.3 Haugesund in Norway is one of my favourites too. And, totally under estimated is Ironman South Africa – passionate, knowledgeable crowds who line pretty much the entire run course and support everyone, not just their favourites.

 Your company, Focus.On.The.Finish.Line (we love the name by the way), has been in the eventing industry for some time. In that time, you must have seen a huge increase in participants? What do you think are the key factors?

Thanks – we love the name too – that’s pretty much the objective of what we do – we do everything so that all you have to do is focus on the finish line. We started at the Ironman 70.3 SA in 2011 and have seen tremendous growth. And our clients want us to provide our services at other events like the Cape Epic, Wines2Whales, Sani2c, Ironman, WTS Cape Town, the Cycle Tour and more. They love it so much they want us to assist on international events. We do flights, accommodation, transfers and tour, bike transport, masseurs, mechanics, supporter tours and anything else the athlete needs (except do the race) – ok, enough of the plug.

 We see a strong uptick in participation in endurance events – people want to feel alive, challenge themselves and have a goal to keep them motivated to be healthy. The great events (from Ironman to Epic) sell out so fast and the waiting lists are huge. Unfortunately, the sponsorship support isn’t on a par with the demand for participation and this makes it very tough for event owners to keep the prices affordable whilst still delivering high standards of athlete experience. You have no idea how expensive it is to host events.

Ironman South Africa celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Quite a few of the Black Line London crew will be coming out to get stuck in. What do we have to look forward to – race and South Africa wise?

As a South African I’m very proud of how the numbers of international participants at the IMSA events has grown. We are far away for the Europeans, flights aren’t cheap and we are very early in the season for the athletes from the north, meaning they have to train through winter. But that extremely high standard of the event, the athlete experience, the amazingly warm and friendly South Africans and the fact that you can tick off a bucket list item by doing a safari have seen the word spread. Not to mention how delicious are wines are, the cuisine awesome and at the current exchange rate – it’s CHEAP. It’s a great race course, with a sea swim which can be intimidating. Now a 2 loop bike course which will test the legs for sure, and then finishes with the run lined with spectators shouting support. The volunteers are amazing. And the red carpet is a long one giving every finisher plenty of time to soak up what they have achieved……..and the after party is pretty epic too.

Ironman SA have got a lot planned to make sure that the 10th is a true celebration. I cant wait and thanks for bringing the BLL crew down to get the party started.

You speak to the first (8 hours) and last person (17 hours) crossing the line (and obviously MANY in between). Anyone reading this who thinks an Ironman is beyond them, how would you convince them otherwise?

In Ironman anything is possible – which means anyone who is truly committed and can put in the hours should be able to finish – and in Ironman (unlike other sports) to finish is to win! I have seen physically handicapped athletes finish, I have seen blind athletes finish, deaf…I have seen athletes that have had major heart surgery, or recovering from cancer – I have seen them finish. Team Garwood – Kevin with his teenage son Nicky who has cerebral palsy – they did it together and finished last year.

Have a reason. Have a will. Get a training programme. And slowly, slowly your journey will take you to the magic carpet and that very special and unique title of “you are and Ironman”

You’re very active on social media. How has this influenced what you do for a living?

Hard to answer that – but I use Twitter to follow what’s happening in the spaces I play in – it helps me stay informed and often gives me insights I might otherwise not have. It also allows me to develop the brand “Paul Kaye” in a way, as I become a (hopefully credible) source of info. And I suppose (considering I occasionally get wrapped over the knuckles for what I say on twitter by events I work for) events feel what I share, say…my opinions count. So I think that’s good for me. Facebook I use more to have a connection with athletes and sometimes be able to say more than just their name when they are racing.

But also – I feel very blessed to lead the life I do, and I like to be able to share that with others.

What are your goals for 2014? 

I’m busy finalising the race schedule with Ironman. Very excited about the 10th IMSA and heading back onto the Ironman Europe Tour. My goal is to always just be better, do better. And deep down, I’m really hoping that will lead me to Kona. I’m also hoping to announce the first ever ITU WTS race on African soil – that will be my first stint for the ITU.

And for FOTFL – we have just hired our first employee and are looking to grow the number of events we offer our services at. And we are also looking to start FOTFL Europe. So, another quiet year ahead.

Lastly, if you could only play 3 songs at the finish of an event, name them.

Hahaha – you kidding me right? That’s impossible as music is so subjective and so local – we always tailor the music to suit the crowds – it’s never what we want to hear, but what gets the crowd rocking – this creates the atmosphere of celebration for the athlete.


Follow Paul on Twitter @Kayeman and check out the FOTFL website here.


Jodie Swallow’s Black Line London Playlist

Jodie Swallow


Our superlative generating machine melted when we put the name Jodie Swallow into it. And to be fair if you’ve found your way here, you probably don’t need her amazingness explained, but let’s just say that we are having a whip round and heading the bookies before Kona this year. Not only is she bossing Ironman, she’s bossing our latest Black Line London playlist with some epic choices.

What was the first song or album that got you into music?

Probably my parents albums that we used to listen to on long car journeys – Dire Straits, Tom Petty, Bob Marley…..  I was a deep teenager and I liked albums with stories and turmoil – I can still recite the entire Alanis Morrisette album –’Jagged Little Pill’, including the secret song – do you remember those? haha

What was your first gig?

Um probably Robbie Williams in Manchester. I didn’t go to gigs as a kid, or even the cinema because I was swimming all the time.

Was there a standout track at that gig?

‘Let Me Entertain You ‘. He is a great performer.

If there was one band or artists you could go and see, who would it be?

Bob Marley. No doubt.

Is there a band or artist you’ve discovered recently that you really like?

Yeah,  South Africa has a whole different set of bands not that mainstream in England . Desmond and the Tutus have some absolutely spot on lyrics for Capetonians . They have some great people  and the Parlotones are just the start.

What music would you listen to warming up before an Ironman?

Probably something familiar and not too hardcore. I know it’s corny, but I have a fondness for Bruno Mars as his songs have bouncy rhythms and rhythm is important in Ironman.

Best song for a really hard turbo training session?

‘Warrior’ by Chase and Status

What’s your favourite all time band?

Too hard !  Foo Fighters probably.

Do you have gigs coming up?

No, and it will depend who comes to South Africa this summer ! Coldplay, Kings of Leon and U2 came  so hopefully someone good.

What’s your favourite music to relax to?

Just beautiful lyrics and voices. Evocative lyrics make me cry so has to be happy songs for relaxation

You’ve just won Hawaii– what song will they play as you get up on the podium?

Rihanna ‘Diamonds’.

What’s the perfect Sunday morning song?

Eva Cassidy ‘Songbird ‘.

TRX Exercises for Triathletes

Craig EastonCraig Easton is a professional footballer, fitness freak and friend of Black Line London. His playing palmares reads: Scotland U-21’s, Dundee United. Livingston, Leyton Orient, Swindon Town, Southend United, Dunfermline and Torquay United. And in case you weren’t paying attention, HE PLAYED FOR DUNDEE UNITED which makes him a proper legend. In this guest blog, Craig talks about his experience with the TRX training system and suggests some TRX exercises for triathletes.

Craig also has a BA in sports writing, and you should mos def read his excellent blog and follow him on Twitter.

Six years ago I was hanging off my ex Leyton Orient teammate Adam Tann’s creaking living room door trying to execute a low row on the end of a piece of equipment that was a cross between a mountaineering harness and something that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Soho basement.  That was my introduction to TRX Suspension Training and I’ve never looked back.  However, I must admit that before I actually tried it, I thought it was just another gimmick.  You know, the ones in the same bracket as those contraptions you see advertised on a loop on channel 4000 in America where someone like Chuck Norris is getting ripped up in their living room and trying to convince you that for a one-off payment of $199.99 you too could have the same sculpted physique as Walker, Texas Ranger.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Norris’ work, especially in the Delta Force movies, but the fact that the TRX was created by Randy Hetrick, a real-life ex-special forces Navy SEAL, to help keep him and his colleagues combat ready in between missions, did make me curious.  That short introduction in Adam’s front room, where the exercises I tried were so much harder to perform than they looked, was what really made me get involved.  Seven years later and with a massive, dedicated following which includes pro athletes from multiple sports and also a comprehensive in-depth training and education programme, the TRX is certainly here to stay.

I was hooked on it’s simplicity and the fact that you can enjoy a challenging workout anywhere as long as there’s somewhere to hang it, be it a tree in your garden or a hotel door (as long as your wife doesn’t open it in the middle of a chest press or you’ll be eating carpet!).  Over the years, many of my teammates at the various clubs I’ve played for have been curious and after getting them involved in a session, many have ended up buying one for themselves.

 To say football has changed since I was a fresh-faced 16 year old at Dundee United is a bit of an understatement.  The game is faster, players are more mobile and athletic and at a lot of clubs (especially in this country) there is more emphasis placed on the physical side of the game.  Strength and Conditioning in football is no longer just about lifting weights.  With a more scientific approach to modern conditioning methods comes a more functional training perspective and the TRX is certainly all about functionality, making it a perfect tool for footballers.  It’s an important part of my own strength and conditioning regime.  In a typical week with a game on a Saturday, I’ll usually do two to three sessions on the TRX along with one or two traditional weights workouts, depending on how heavy the football sessions have been.

 Every TRX exercise you perform requires core recruitment.  The muscles located around the abdominal region, back, pelvic floor and hips including glutes, are essential for functional movement and injury prevention. During the summer of 2006, when I was playing for Leyton Orient, I had a hernia operation after struggling with groin and abdominal pain for a few months towards the end of that season.  About twelve games into the next campaign, I broke down and the pain was even worse.  I was diagnosed with Osteitis Pubis (inflammation of the pubic symphysis) and ended up being out of action for 8 weeks.

I was lucky enough that our physio, Lewis Manning, was really forward thinking and he got me in to see a guy called Ian Carroll who was doing a lot of work with Spurs and West Ham players at the time.  Basically, Ian opened my eyes to what core stability really was.  It was a light-bulb moment!  Before, I only thought about my main abdominal muscles as being my core and was actually overusing these along with my lower back muscles and in turn, putting strain on other parts of my body including groins and hamstrings.   My core strength was pretty weak.  Basic pelvic floor exercises, low level pilates and swiss ball exercises initially helped me to develop these deep lying core muscles and the TRX has taken this sort of training to another level.

Having a strong core is essential for a footballer; it enables us to balance, twist and turn, hold opponents off, generate power, and stay injury free.  Living next to the sea, I’ve started to swim regularly and with one eye on triathlon when my football career comes to an end, I asked my friend and TRX Master Trainer, Matt Gleed, to help explain the benefits of TRX for a triathlete.  “You get a combination of core stability and core strength allowing you to be more stable when rotating and reaching for a stroke when swimming”, says Matt, “and a stronger core will allow you to hold your aero position on the bike for longer and have a more stable and economical action.  When running, good core stability helps every time you land on a single leg and your core strength allows you to maintain a better posture.”

Using the TRX involves shifting your own bodyweight in a number of different functional ways and according to Matt, this is perfect training for both footballers and triathletes.  “A key factor of using bodyweight is that you can work with a full range of movement that your body gets used to, thus allowing you to move more athletically and efficiently.”  He continues, “You will get stronger, but it’s all relevant to your bodyweight, so when we’re talking about TRX strength, we’re talking about the weight to power ratio and using that power to complete movements relevant to the sport you’re training for.  With TRX, you’re working against gravity, the pendulum principle, and the range of movement.  Different forms of resistance, not just weighted resistance.”

With the TRX there’s no messing about in between exercises, which means no stalling, having a chat and squeezing out that little bit of extra rest time while walking to the next  piece of equipment, and according to Matt this is a bonus especially when training for endurance sports.  It’s not so nice when you’re chalk white and trying to keep your last meal down during one of Matt’s monster sessions.

Because of the minimal change-around time between exercises on the TRX, your body is under tension for the majority of the time plus you’re also getting a good CV workout as well.  Matt explains, “With TRX you can do a jump squat, turn around quickly, put one foot in and do a single leg burpee then lie on the floor and turn over, put your heels in and go straight into a hamstring curl.  The exercises flow into one another more quickly so you build up more repetitions and more time under tension than you would do with traditional strength exercises.”

Many TRX exercises mirror movements that are performed for real in almost every sport.    Some will obviously be more relevant than others, but with a little bit of imagination, you can tweak some of the more basic movements to be even more sports specific.  The almost limitless adaptability of the equipment is what makes it an excellent tool for any athlete regardless of their sport.

Here are Matt’s top three triathlon specific exercises….



Luke Rowe’s Black Line London Playlist


Every young gun needs a soundtrack, and we asked Team Sky’s Luke Rowe to share some of his favourite tracks. He delivered a great mix of pop, punk and hip hop. And The Lighthouse Family.

What was the first song or album that got you into music?

“It was when I was around 12 or 13, and I bought my first Offspring album. I remember I worked for my dad for a day, and he paid me £10 so I went off to the shop and bought Offspring ‘Americana’”

What was your first gig?

“That was The Stereophonics, in Cardiff. Being a Welsh boy and them being a Welsh band, it was pretty awesome. I went with my brother and my folks. “

Was there a standout track at that gig?

“A Thousand Trees”. I love that song, and still play it now.”

If there was one band or artists you could go and see, who would it be?

“It would probably be some old school rap – Rick Ross, or Dr Dre”

Is there a band or artist you’ve discovered recently that you really like?

“Yeah, I’ve got really into country which I’ve never listened to before and I’ve only just discovered it. So the other day, I order a Johnny Cash ‘Best Of’ which is brilliant.”

What music would you listen to warming up before a stage of the Tour de France?

“I’m quite into my dance music – it’s good for when I’m trying to get into the zone for a time trial. I’ve got quite a few good podcasts going on at the moment – Mark Night is one I really like”

Best song for a really hard turbo training session?

“A bit of a rap playlist I think, if I need something to get me in the mood I’d listen to that.”

What’s your favourite all time band?

“I think that would have to be The Stereophonics. I’ve been listening to them all my life and I still listen to them now. I never get bored of their songs. I’ve never met them, but I’d like to.”

Any gigs coming up?

“Nothing in the diary, and I do like going to gigs so in the off season I’ll definitely get some booked in”.

What’s your favourite music to relax to?

“I like soppy stuff, and maybe shouldn’t admit this, but something like Lighthouse Family. I’ll probably get some stick for that one, but hey…….”

You’ve just won the Giro – what song will they play as you get up on the podium?

“Tiesto’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ – that would get things going!”

What’s the perfect Sunday morning song?

“Sunday morning, just woken up, radio goes on and Oasis ‘Wonderwall’ comes on. Perfect.”

Magnus Backstedt – The Ironman Interview

In addition to a palmarès that reads like a motherfucker, Magnus Backsted is A) A dude and B) an Ironman. We spoke to him in the days after his sub 10 hour debut at Ironman Sweden so make a cuppa, grab a biscuit, sit back and enjoy…….

Guest Blog: From Triathlete to Cyclist

Nicole Oh

Pearson Physio and friend of Black Line London Nicole Oh guest blogs about her journey from iron woman to competitive cyclist.

“Retired Triathlete” – that’s what my twitter bio says. And having made the transition to “Road racer”, I’ve learnt just how different Triathlon and Cycling can be.

Cycling is a hard sport, period. Not being one to sit on the fence, I will just come straight out and say that it is harder than Triathlon. The main reason is, in road racing, you almost always have to go at the pace of other riders. You could be pushing as hard as you can, just holding on, with bleeding lungs and burning legs, then someone decides to attack (again), and if you can’t find that extra little bit at that moment, you’ll be dropped and essentially, your race will be over. And to make matters worse, your competitors are looking out for that weakness, so they can put the boot in when it will cause most suffering. Sometimes I think that those who do best in road racing are those who can hurt themselves the most, something I am yet to master…

In Triathlon, form aside, generally the strongest/fastest person will win. Triathlon is about pacing and control – what pace you can sustain for a certain period of time without blowing up. In road racing, tactics, thinking, and team work play a huge part. Often the smartest rider/team will win, and not necessarily the strongest. This is one of the reasons I like road racing!

The majority of triathlon injuries are overuse injuries in some way, which normally involves some degree of training error or bad decision-making on your part sometime in the process. Whilst these injuries are also quite common in cycling, the risk of you crashing, often at high speed and often entirely not your fault, is far higher with a bunch of 50+ riders travelling over 25mph within inches of each other. You could be in the best form of your life, when someone comes down in front of you, and in a few seconds, your season could be over. Bad luck definitely has it’s part to play.

You become very unbalanced as a cyclist… in body shape that is! (some would argue in mindset as well). In a sport where a good power to weight ratio is essential to being competitive, upper body weight, even if it is muscle, is dead weight, and therefore not needed. I have gradually over the past year felt my legs getting bigger and heavier, and my once quite developed shoulders and guns shrinking. And for the first time ever I care about what I weigh, and even went on a diet… a proper one,where I counted the number of calories that went in and out.

Further to the imbalance, my core stability has never been so bad! I feel myself having to make an effort to sit up against gravity, both on the bike and in everyday life. I have turned into one of those cyclists who just rides their bike, the type that I often lecture in my clinic! I have taken for granted how much just a little bit of swimming and running help to maintain your core muscles, and I have fallen out of the habit of going to the gym just once a week to do some S+C.

The training is different. I know it’s obvious with 3 disciplines, but triathlon involves a lot of volume and does take up a lot more time, and hence requires a lot more organisation to be able to train consistently. When I was training for Ironman, I didn’t really think about it, I just programmed it in to my routine and did it. Now that I am out of the routine, I can’t imagine ever fitting it all in! The fatigue is different too – my legs are often tired and heavy with cycling training, with Triathlon, my whole self felt shattered!

Road racing is great if you’re not a morning person! The earliest road race I’ve ever done started at 9.30am, but is usually more likely to be 1pm. Training camp rides start at the civilised hour of 10am. This is in stark contrast to the 6.30am trips to the lake on Saturday mornings, or loading the car to go to a race at 5am, as party-goers stumbled out of clubs in Clapham!

I do miss triathlon and being a triathlete, especially around the time of the year when everyone goes off to lovely European destinations for races. However, for the time being, i am enjoying the new challenges of road racing, especially as i have an awesome bunch of ladies in my team, Les Filles RT, to race with. I also love some of the traditions and romanticism of road racing, from the unspoken peloton etiquette to the tea and homemade cakes at race HQ (usually a village hall) after a road race.  However, I’m sure my days of clipping on a race belt are not over yet…

Who better to treat your triathlon and cycling injuries than Nicole? Find her at and on Twitter @PearsonPhysio

Guest Blog: Jo Carritt on her #50Days50Runs

Jo Carritt Running Blog Post

Several other Black Line Londoner’s recently did a #50Days50Runs challenge.  And it seems we are in good company as Jo Carritt, Pro Triathlete and EverydayTraining coach,  also makes this an important part of her season prep.

We asked Jo if she would write a guest blog on on the topic for us so we could get the view of a pro, and we’re delighted that she said yes! Thanks Jo…….

50 runs in 50 days is a challenge that I have given to many of the athletes that I coach, and do myself most years at the beginning of my season. It is derived from a challenge that I learned about from my former coach Scott Molina: 30 runs of 30 minutes in 30 days. That has a pleasing symmetry about it and gives a month of running focus…without too much focus on the running!

Getting back into shape after Christmas, I opted to lengthen the duration of the challenge, but still kept the minimum run requirements low at either 30minutes or 6 km- my gym just happens to be 6km away, but down a hill – it’s an easy option for a run but I couldn’t see myself running around the block for 5minutes to make up the time! Of course within my 7 weekly runs I would be including my long runs and I found that I preferred to take a day off running and do a double run day each week: that’s something that I’ll often include in my regular schedule anyway, with run 1 being a “loosener” first thing in the morning, and run 2 a pace-focused run workout later in the day. Another easy way to catch up runs is to run to and back from the pool, gym or any other appointment; one of my rules is that there must be at least 30 min between runs for them to be considered as distinct runs.

I find the 50 runs in 50 days ‘challenge’ to be useful for a number of reasons:

1) Done early in your run build phase, or when resuming training after some time off with injury, and is beneficial because it removes your focus away from pace, distance, intensity, training zones etc and purely gets you to think about time on your feet and regularity. 2 medium runs, a long run and a brick run is plenty of running each week for most age-group Ironman athletes and if your running is already at a good weekly volume (30-40miles/week) then you still get to do these runs within the 30/30/30 challenge, with the addition of regular short runs to boost your overall run volume. Here’s my run volume for the first 7 weeks of 2013 thanks to the 50in 50.

week 1 76km

week 2 85km

week 3 80km

week 4 55km

week 5 72km

week 6 69km

week 7 73km

Not massive mileage, but great consistency (I somehow managed a light week in week 4 after a camp in Fuerturventura, but that’s still around 5hrs of running) and I feel that this gives me a good basis for adding more intensity into my run sessions from here on.

2) The challenge requires that you run almost everyday. To gain a day off requires a day of multiple runs. After the first week, you will probably be running on tired legs nearly all the time – not exactly the same, but close, to how your legs are likely to feel when you head out of T2 on your Ironman. Loading the legs in smaller doses is somewhat safer than getting the same effect by doing very long runs, and will build up your strength – especially if those runs are incorporated into your commutes and you’re carrying a back-pack!

3) It’s a mental challenge. As well as forcing you to be creative about time management and where you can fit a half hour run into a busy day (a very useful skill to develop for high volume training required for an Ironman), it’s also a reason to get out and run even when your sure as hell don’t feel like it.  If you take on the ‘challenge’ then its really mental fortitude that will get you through to the end. Just like doing an Ironman.

There are reasons NOT to do this – it’s pretty demanding and even the minimum amount (all runs at 30min) will give you a weekly run mileage of close to 30miles. Of course if your usual recent run mileage is much less than this, it’s probably not suitable – however you could always adjust the parameters – how about 20/20/20? Another common pitfall for even very fit athletes attempting the challenge is doing too many longer runs, and overdoing it. In 2008 I progressed from 40/40/40 to 50/50/50 – and made it to 90 days of 90 runs of 50 minutes or more. It was a close call when I got sick and had to miss several days in the middle, but by then I was sufficiently conditioned for high volume running AND had the benefit of a training camp where I could do up to 3 runs a day near the end of it. I stopped the challenge 4 days before my best ever Ironman performance, where I secured the European age-group Championship on the marathon.

If you fancy a great week of training with Jo in the mountains you can check out EverydayTraining’s next Camp in the Pyrenees  

For more about Jo, check out and  EverydayTraining

You can also follow Jo on Twitter.






Sarah Crewe Interview

Sarah Crewe

Here at Black Line London we like cool people. It’s always great to meet someone who has done something a little different, lived through interesting times and has some good stories to tell. So we’d like to introduce friend of the team and all around cool dude Sarah Crewe, a 51 year old triathlete and mother of two who lives in the remote hills of Ruidoso, New Mexico, USA.

I first met Sarah in Cozumel, Mexico in November 2011 where we had both travelled to race the Ironman. It would be fair to say she was not your typical athlete: a little older, terrified of swimming (despite us being in an island paradise and tackling likely the easiest Ironman swim you will ever do), extremely nervous about racing and riding a ridiculous tin-pot steel bike which had 650cc wheels for no apparent reason, weighed a ton and looked like it had been built in the dark ages. So I have to admit I didn’t have great expectations. Catching up with Sarah after the race when I’d finished not far ahead of her (10.20 to her 11.02) she’d trounced me on the swim, stayed ahead of me for most of the bike course despite having to serve a penalty obtained when roundly abusing a large group of drafters, after which she missed T2 and had to be escorted back to transition the wrong way on the pavement by a Mexican policeman, and having won her age group by an hour to qualify for her second Kona (almost 20 years after her first), I realised the reality was a little different. And having got to know her a lot better over the next 15 months she took some time out to chat and share a few stories.

Talk us through Ironman Cozumel first, how was your experience of the race? 

In a nutshell, I was grieving for my father who had passed away in 2009. He has been my only and biggest fan. It was a long time since I’d raced an Ironman so I got there a week before the race and met some awesome and inspiring people. One of them was Peter, a young chef, who, after his 3rd brain surgery for brain cancer—where they realised they could not remove the tumour—decided to forego drugs and chemotherapy and live his life to the fullest in the very short time he has left. His first goal: completing an Ironman. His doctor flew down to be with him, as he gets seizures. If he got one during the race he could die. He was so calming and strong: Mentally he was one of the strongest people I have ever met and I am honoured to call him a friend.

In the race itself, I got pummelled a few times in the swim, but no serious injuries. Wore 2 caps just to make sure my goggles stayed on my head, for without my prescription goggles, I’m toast.  1.03 was a pretty ok time for me. Swallowed 3 huge mouthfuls of water, but felt OK. The bike started ok: into the wind out to the north side of the island, then crosswinds out, then with the wind back, crosswinds, then headwinds… you get the picture. On the 3rd lap a HUGE peleton (30 riders I think) sucked me up. It took a while, but I slowly moved back and got away from the group as this behaviour is not allowed. It’s cheating. I got a good look at the women amidst all the men in the pack and told one “This is not right, I’m outta here”, but she said nothing. I kept hoping a referee would come and bust them all but none came. I did witness a bad crash— one of the peloton members crashed out—“Serves him right”, I thought.  Shortly thereafter, a man rode up and I complained to him, and him to me, about the peleton. As soon as I asked him ‘Where are the refs when you need them” one drove up and gave us both a penalty for riding side by side!  I laughed and told him he should focus on that big peloton. He said he would, but still the penalty stuck. Oh well, my bad. I should stop talking so much.

But because my glasses were so dirty from the salt and rain I couldn’t see the finishing chute when I got into town so I kept on going. After a few minutes I realised that I really didn’t want to ride 4 loops so I stopped the bike, asked a spectator where the finishing chute was, and got the word that it was “way back that way to your right”. Oops! Rookie mistake. So I rode back and stopped again, asked a cop where to go, and he quickly broke the tape line and let me take a back road towards the finish line. I just laughed.

We ran out of town in 3 loops of 8.7 miles each. There were aid stations every k, with water and ice in bags, which was awesome because it was HOT. A few women passed me on the run but I didn’t see anyone with my letter, “U”.  But by mile 13 my quads were shot. Each step brought an excruciating pain shooting up into my thighs like nothing I’ve felt before, but I kept telling myself that walking is not an option. I thought about my Dad and how proud he would be of me, thought about how much he suffered the last years of his life and that this day of suffering was nothing compared to what he went through, and wished for him to be waiting at the finish line for me. I thought about all the amazing people I’d met before the race, thought about Peter and hoped he didn’t get a seizure during his journey that day (thankfully he didn’t). I thought about all my friends in Ruidoso and in Chicago, all the people who have supported me throughout this journey, thought about all the sacrifices Patrick has made, thought about my twin girls. I missed them.

Don’t think I got a finishing photo as I was whisked away by 2 strong men as soon as I crossed the line. Nothing left in the tank. After resting, drinking ramen noodles and a post-race massage, I walked out into Patrick’s arms. “You Won!” he cried. It took a while, but it finally hit me, on the podium, Kona slot in hand— he was right. I did win my age group. Dad would have been proud.

I heard from you later that you’d raced Kona in 1993. Before we get onto that, can you explain how you got into the sport in the early 1990s when it was really only just beginning? Did you have any training partners? Were there many local races you could go to? What about training camps?

Way back in the dark ages, races were an entirely different experience. You could literally register on race day and they were relatively cheap ($25 to $50). Qualifying for Kona was also relatively easy back then. I remember it costing me about $200! One could qualify at an Olympic race back then and relatively few people did triathlons, even in Chicago, where I lived. I got into triathlon on the suggestion of a friend. I had sustained a running injury and she suggested I swim with her Masters Swim Team. I fell in love with swimming all over again and gravitated to a group who also raced in triathlons. I got hooked quickly but I was not very fast or smart.  It took me until 1999 till I got fast. There were no coaches back then. We rode with guys who biked, swam with Masters swimmers, and ran with the local track club.  So we over-ran, over-swam and over-biked as a rule! Nothing scientific about what we did. Kona back then was on the old course, so this year I felt like I had never even done the race on many levels. The course was different, Kona had grown exponentially and so had the race. When I did it I think there were only 1400 participants and much less media attention, in fact compared with this year what I had experienced in 1993 was the equivalent of a local race today!

The first time I went to a camp was with the Multisport group consisting of Roch Frey, Paul Huddle, Paula Newby-Frasier Heather Fuehr, and a host of other pros (German and US) at the time. I think it was in 1996. It was really the only camp out there at the time. I attended twice, in the late 90’s. Since then camps have grown like weeds. I havent been to a camp since then.

Back then it was really intimate. We hung out together and just learned so much about what it was like to be a pro. Lots of laughing. I remember during one ride drafting behind Peter Reid thinking I had died and gone to heaven. Another time, Paula, Patrick Heather and I swam a workout together one morning. Just the 4 of us. This is how intimate it was. We did Paula’s favorite 400’s workout:  400 free followed by 4×100’s– 4x ( after a very long warmup)! I remember there was very little rest….  I swam with Heather and Patrick swam (and kept up) with Paula.

Did you have a coach, and how did that work? It’s so easy now to get a training plan emailed to you, or download one from the Internet. Was there much information available then?

Back then I had no coach. It was all about what I time I had in each day before or after work, and mostly about what my friends were doing. It was very social and we all did what ever the other person wanted to do that day. I had a Masters coach, a running track coach, but no triathlon coach. I don’t even think they were invented back then!  I most certainly had never heard of one. there was no information except what you read in a magazine. I remember looking at workouts but never followed any. The first tri coach I had was Troy Jacobsen. I cannot remember when I “hired” him, but it must have been in the late 90’s. He would fax workouts, but it was very impersonal and not tailored back then. It was definitely pre-internet!

People racing now often refer to people racing at that time as role models: Mark and Dave, Paula Newby Fraser and so on. Was this the case then, or was the sport still too young for that to have developed?

If you were a triathlete, you definitely knew who the pros were. Paula and Heather were definitely my heroes. Paula was just such a force, especially when you were in camp with her. And Huddle was just the opposite, always trying to get you to skip the ride or run and go surfing instead!  I remember going out to dinner in Salano Beach at the camp and seeing Mark out having dinner with his wife. As a triathlete I read Triathlon Today and Inside Triathlon. That was where you got all the news as there was no internet! Race results weren’t posted on line, it was all word of mouth how you did at the races.

You obviously discovered you had a talent for the sport, did you ever plan to race pro? Was it possible to get sponsors as an age grouper?

Oh gosh, thanks for the compliment, but really I started SOO late. I was 30 (I’m now 51) when I started. I didn’t start working out till I was 28!  I had quit swimming when I was 13, and I had never really run until then, so I was behind the 8-ball. I got good enough to be sponsored by PowerBar (it had just come out on the market) as an “Elite” amateur, but I was already in my mid-late 30’s by then. Actually my fastest years were in aged 39-42 and that is way to old to go pro!  Plus I just didn’t have the speed, I had a full time job and I liked having it as a hobby. I was also sponsored by a local running store and Rudy Project (pre-helmets, back when they only sold sun glasses). But back then you could fly your bike for free or only pay $25, the races were relatively cheap, so it wasn’t a huge expense like it is now.

How did the qualifying process for Kona work? Was it something people aspired to or was there not really much media interest in the race yet?  

Back then it was cool amongst the triathletes, but like I said before it was much easier to qualify. Becoming a pro was easier too. I knew a woman who raced pro to qualify even though I beat her in every race! You could literally race the Chicago Triathlon, win your age, and qualify. It only started getting tougher later in the 90s, early 2000’s and it has gotten more and more difficult since then. I remember getting 2nd or 3rd in Vineman in 2003 in my age group and knowing I would qualify but I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony knowing I had to get back to take care of the twins! And the same happened when we took the twins to England in 2004. We did the half IM in Dorset: we swam and ran around a moat and a castle.  I remember doing really well, like around 5 hours, and I may have even won my age group, but we had to leave to get back to Essex to take care of the twins immediately after the race. I probably would have gotten a slot then, but it wasn’t a priority to me. These days, forget it. You qualify you take it! It is SOOO hard to get a slot!

So you got to Kona in 1993, how did the race go for you? 

It was the worst race of my life. I was under prepared and was not trained properly for the heat the wind and the effects of all that on the body.  I had no idea about nutrition and spent 90 minutes in the med tent after the bike with what I now think was hyponatremia. My stomach was bloated from too much water, no salt, and no idea what to do about the nausea. Only after projectile vomiting during the walk/run did I eventually feel better. I don’t know why, but I walked the entire marathon, eating my way through each aid station like it was the last buffet I’d ever see, chatting with anyone and anything that walked my way. At mile 20 it dawned on me that I was probably the only triathlete to have GAINED weight during the race! I was embarrassed to cross the finish line all bloated from all the good food!

What happened next? Did you ever plan to race Kona again? What made you stay in the sport?

Ah I decided to redeem myself by racing Ironman events all over the world with my then-fiance, Patrick. I did the Espirit in Canada, Lanzarote, Roth, Florida, New York, and registered for Taupo but was injured for the race and watched it instead. I stayed in the sport because I loved the lifestyle: Long rides with friends on the weekends, long runs with friends, swimming with friends. It was my lifestyle and I loved the people I met who became my good friends. This was pre-kids. I worked and played and loved it.

Going back in 2012 must have been fantastic but also quite strange, for a start I know the course has changed slightly since then. How did your experience compare?

I didn’t have the race I had trained for, so I was very discouraged. I had a terrible swim, started way way too far to the left, and just felt sluggish all day. Getting older has its drawbacks, especially for females, and hormones are a key factor to performance I think. It just wasn’t my day. To top it off I had an asthma attack on the run which really slowed things down considerably. At mile 5 my lungs seized up and I had to stop and walk with my hand over my head, using my inhaler and calming myself down for 20 minutes. A doctor ran up to me and told me to stop but I smiled (could not talk) and kept going. But it scared me so I just jogged slowly the rest of the run. At least I didn’t walk the entire marathon like I did in 1993.

There was a lot of press this year about Julie Moss and Kathleen McCartney reuniting 30 years after their infamous crawl-off. As you are in the same age group as them, did you get in there to spoil the party? Did you know those girls from racing when you were younger? Is it true that Paula was backing you to take them down?!

Ha! I remember on the run some photographers running over to Julie (she was behind me) to capture her and thinking “phew’ , at least I’m beating her!” Yes, I remember Julie from the video of the race in 1982, but she was not a big pro like Paula. And I think Kathleen raced only once after her initial race, so no, they were not in the picture when I was racing.

Yes, Paula did tell me to beat Julie at the pre-race expo. She was funny. I can’t believe after all these  years she remembered me— that was one of the most memorable moments of the entire Kona experience. To think this woman remembered me of all people!

You are also one of the most well-travelled people I’ve met and raced all over Europe in the 1990s. Any good / bad memories to share of those races? Any particular favourites or total disasters?

Oh gosh, I really have been lucky to race everywhere. Roth was a kick. I think that was in 1999. I remember after the race going down to breakfast and nearly gagging with all the cigarette smoke! I could not believe my eyes watching half a dozen Ironmen smoking cigarettes the day after the race! Lanzarote was the toughest race on the planet. I will NEVER race it again though I’d love to go train there. I got engaged in Paloma, Italy at the duathlon world championships in 96. That was a blast racing over cobblestones. I think I got 9th or 19th in that race. Roth was a disaster. They kept serving water with gas or not and I could never remember which word was “with” gas and which was “no” gas…and often make the mistake that cost me my insides. I projectile vomited there too. In fact, I got sick in every Ironman I have done except Florida and Kona 2012. I tell you I am a slow learner.

I raced in Perth at the Olympic Worlds in….gosh what year was that? 1996? Didn’t have a great race but had a blast. Raced in the Cayman Islands— now that was the most primitive. I think we had to ride on grass and dirt roads at one point….My favorite race overseas was Dorset. Or was is Somerset? Just swimming in a moat was so very cool, and running on the trails around the castle gave me the shivers. It was amazing.  In the states, my favorite was Muncie half Ironman. I won overall amateur that year— 4:53– the only race time I remember—I think it was 1999– and I felt like a million bucks. I’m still trying to recapture that feeling. I’m a slow learner. Did I say that already?

Sarah Crewe

Having finished 2nd in the 50-54 age group in the 70.3 Worlds in Vegas this year I think half distance is probably your strongest distance. Any plans to go back for the AG win this year? Or to go shorter and faster?

This year, because my kids are so busy and my husband works out of town, I cannot possibly train for an Ironman. I plan to do some local (here, local means within a 5 hour drive) races that are shorter, and I hope to qualify to try for Worlds 70.3 again. I plan to race Galveston and Lubbock 70.3s and smaller races in between then. May is too hard to race as my girls are budding ballerinas and their Spring shows are in April and May. The thing I always have to keep in mind is that there is always a handful of girls who age up each year, so nothing is guaranteed. I need to work on my run and pull it up to what it once was.

Having seen some fairly blatant drafting at Cozumel and Kona over the last 2 years, I know you feel strongly about kicking cheats out of the sport. With large age group fields and multi-lap courses this seems to be getting worse – any thoughts on what could be done?

Ha. Cozumel was very blatant, but NOTHING like Kona this year. I just felt like I saw miles of drafting. That was discouraging. In the olden days I think because there were less racers there was less drafting. I think one thing they could do but they wont is have more waves spread farther apart. The media loves capturing the mass start, and this only leads to more packs and more drafting. I think if the penalties were stiffer as well it would make a difference. If someone drafts, lets say, for 20 miles and gets a 4 minute penalty, that in their mind is worth it. But if the penalty were 8 minutes they may think twice before drafting!

There’s also been talk about age group doping recently with an older age grouper being banned last year. Have you come across this at all in the States? Do you think it’s a common problem with older athletes?

I had NEVER heard about drugs in the old days. I only heard about them last year at Las Vegas Worlds. Someone at a pre-race dinner table was talking about going to a doctor to get their hormone levels tested… the group ten began talking about T, and I learned, after talking to other people, that these people go to doctors to get their testosterone levels checked. If they are “low” t (and who at my age has naturally high testosterone!) they get hormones! I was appalled. The doctors are “anti-ageing” specialists and I hear that it is a growing specialty for the baby boomer generation. I had forgotten about it until this year when I read an athlete with whom I was familiar (he was often in the same races I raced in back in the days) had been busted for high testosterone.

I think that many triathletes in the States have incredible amounts of disposable income and will do anything to get faster. It’s a shame because it taints the races. I think out of competition testing is important to do for those who are well known age group winners. Just like the pros, I am sure they are smart enough and have the resources to make sure they are clean on race day. It seems so ironic that they would spend a fortune on something that they don’t get paid to do. And who knows what the side effects will be down the road? I’m just happy that I have kids and all I worry about is staying healthy for them and being a good role model that they will remember long after I’m gone.

Going completely off topic for a moment, as someone who has lived a varied and interesting life can you explain how you came to be shot at during a military coup?

Oh my, that is a long long story. In a nutshell, I lived in Kenya during my Jr Year Abroad while in college at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1980. I was an anthropology major and thought it would be enlightening to study at the Leaky center in Nairobi. I was focusing on physical anthropology  Well, once I arrived in Kenya the world changed for me. I learned how others saw us, how the Third World, as it was called, saw the world, and I really grew up. I changed my major and focused on African Literature. At the time, the students, the ones who were my friends, were friends with people in the Air Force, and before I knew it there was an attempted coup— the Army vs the Air Force. The Air Force wanted more pay, or something of that sort. It was a mess. We were woken in the dorms one night to the sound of bombing and gunfire….We had to hurry and leave the city fast. During the next 24 hours we scrambled. Lots of bullets. I remembered running with a group towards a taxi, opening the door to find a man dead in a pile of blood. One of the students pulled him out and we jumped in….Memories that I’d rather forget. Walking on the street the next morning, arms above my head, and stepping on a half-naked man who was lying face down dead in the gutter….Guns pointing at my head, being forced to crawl at one point on my knees with other students…standing and watching students get cattle-prodded and beaten….

I’m lucky to be alive. No kidding. I don’t know how it all happened, but I managed to escape to the country with a couple of friends. After a month or more I took a bus to the city and bought a ticket home from an Indian who worked above a seedy night club. It was all so very surreal. The memories are so raw, I was so naiive and young to understand what was happening. But during my travels in the country I met the kindest people. Hard working women who amazed me with their generosity and kindness. The stark contrasts between the tangible experiences of evil and good will forever be embedded in my mind.

When people here talk in this country about putting guns in schools, arming teachers I just want to vomit. I bet that none of these people know what it is like to be terrorised  to have a gun pointed at their head by a high or drunk soldier, no idea how they would react to such terror. If I had had a gun back then there is no way I could have used it. I remember running and peeing in my pants, my heart in my head, unable to breathe. Terror is tangible and it consumes your body. Most people would not have the power to override that feeling. I just hope that smart people make smart decisions when it comes to gun laws in this country. (editorial!)

Having been lucky enough to stay with you in New Mexico, the serenity and calm of the mountains must be a long way from growing up in Chicago and teaching rough kids in Harlem. How did that come about?

Another long story! My husband and I were working long long hours and never seeing our kids. Amongst a lawsuit from his former partners, and the desire to work and live by our kids, he was recruited to work here. I quit my job as a banker and started a new life as a health teacher, an instructor  and a swim coach. I am blessed to be able to be a part of my kids lives and to have had the opportunity to change my career and do what I love.

Final question, what’s your best memory from your racing career?

Winning in Muncie. That was an out of body experience. Crossing that line, breaking that tape! Second was Ironman Cozumel.  To be able to win, after all that had transpired since my last Ironman, to have won on my old 650 Litespeed Blade against women who had fancy new bikes, to have kept it up thinking the entire time about my dad… that was truly special.

And final final question, is it true you know Barack Obama?

Yes, but I’m sure, unlike PNF, he won’t remember me! He worked out at the East Bank Club, where I belonged, while he was in Chicago. He would come in the  mornings and play basketball with his buds and afterwards would go to the deli counter to get his breakfast to go. On many occasions I would be there too. Once I was in line behind him and we started chatting. He was so incredibly personable, asking me about my life, why I was going to move, and then we started to talk about Kenya. Thank heaven the line was long. I told him about my stay in Kenya and he was genuinely interested– in me!! I’ll never forget that day. He bought 2 hard boiled eggs and a smoothie. Pretty healthy for a politician! That was his breakfast every time I saw him there.




Training Peaks Diary with Coach Jim Vance. Episode 1.

Training Peaks Diary with Coach Jim Vance is a regular Google Hangout with one of the most respected coaches in triathlon.

One of Training Peaks most useful features is their training plan store. If having your own coach is not the right choice for you, then buying a plan to help you prepare for the start line is a great option.

This year I will be following a plan put together by Coach Jim Vance (who, by the way, is a dude!) and along the way will be checking in with Jim to ask the sort of questions that you might also have if you’re following an off the shelf plan. In a stroke of creative genius, we’re calling this “Training Peaks Diary with Coach Jim Vance”.

A work in progress, the first episode asks about what to think about then choosing your plan, explains TSS and what to consider if your lifestyle demands some changes to the plan.

If you have any questions you’d like me to put to Jim in future episodes, those would be very welcome – post a comment, Tweet me or just shout it really loud and I’ll add it to the list.