Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard
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July 2001

Tuesday, 3 July

Ruhpolding

Summer test week in Ruhpolding. The junior team and the Ruhpolding athletes doing standard shooting and physical tests. The women (all but the preselected national team members) are also doing their separate tests here.

This morning the classic roller-ski up to the Steinbergalm. I was over 1'40" quicker than last year, using the same roller-skis, which is gratifying, especially given that my training started late this year, as it did last year, so that the improvement is entirely due to last year's training.

Of course there are also the shooting tests. Yesterday we shot on paper targets, 30 shots standing and 30 prone, for points. I was among the best prone, and the worst standing. That seems to be a phase I am going through which will not last - a fortnight ago in Hochfilzen Ian had to ask me which was my standing and which my prone target; now it is painfully obvious.

 

4 July

Road-bike test: from the biathlon centre up to the Winklmoosalm. A headwind along the flattish first half, so only some 40" faster than last year.

Shooting tests: three straight 'biathlonserie': my prone shooting going well, fast and accurate, but the standing still wobbly and therefore both slow and inaccurate.

 

6 July

Yesterday the roller-ski time trial: 4 laps of the entire loop at the biathlon centre. At Fritz's behest I raced on my Marwe rollers, which are somewhat faster than the DMS that the others used. But I felt strong and was able to keep working hard all the way, my four lap split times all being within a second or two of each other.

Fritz is now talking about switching his group off DMS because they slip and require too much maintenance to keep them running straight - whenever we do a time trial on his skis he has to give out a few spanners for us to straighten the wheels. He seems keen on the Marwes (the 610 model, with narrow, big diameter wheels).

Last night I watched the full moon rise over the Rauschberg: from my kitchen window it came up right behind the cable car station on the summit; today we had our running test race up the Rauschberg, an unrelenting climb of some 1,000m, in sweltering heat. I managed to scrape under 50', 3'30" faster than last year, and faster than any of the German juniors, which was pleasing. We took the cable-car down.

Results of the Sommerleistungskontrolle tests: click here.

This afternoon I needed a different kind of excitement so I drove over to Lofer to take my kayak down the Teufelschlucht, before meeting Fritz at the biathlon centre to test all sorts of different roller-skis.

 

Sunday, 8 July

So, test week over, and I rounded it out with a triathlon in Austria: only a relay entry, and I did the swim: my first swim race for 23 years, and my longest by a factor of 30. Hard work, but good fun, and interesting to see a sport I have never seen before. Good to see Peter Moysey winning the race, even better to see what looked like a 13-yr-old girl finishing a mere 5' behind him. I asked my team-mate
"Did you see the little girl who won the women's race?"
"Yes, she's my daughter, but she's older than she looks: she's 16!"

Today I took the kayak to Landeck, for old time's sake, where it first got wet 7 years ago. Went to the start point for a hard section of the Inn, talked to a couple of Germans and ran it with them in shocking high water: really powerful waves and currents. Fantastic. Sometimes I think I should by a small, modern kayak, but running rivers like that makes me want a bigger one. I bumped into an old friend later who had 3 boats on his roof for different rivers: that's the only answer.

12 July

Tignes, France

Glacier training with the British team. Just the World Cup squad this year; and a battery of physiologists and a psychologist experimenting on us. The idea is that this experiment will give us useful individual data on altitude acclimatisation (most studies give an average result, which is not adequate for predicting a particular individual's response).

And some annoying things, like getting up early to do blood and urine tests, heart rate and blood pressure, and psychological mood profiles. How 'active' am I on a scale of 0-10 at 6.15 in the morning? 0. And as for the urine: a reading above 600 indicates unacceptable dehydration. Fred and I both scored over 1,000 3 days running, until we got so told off that we have spent today bumpering water bottles and complaining. I can hardly bend in the middle, my belly is so turgid.

Beautiful weather: warm and sunny during the day, freezing overnight on the glacier, so the snow is very hard when we first get up there about 7.30, softening by 9.30 and ridiculous by 10.30.

Yesterday afternoon we did a great session on classic roller-skis, from Val d'Isere up the road towards the Col de l'Iseran: a climb approaching 900m, with sensational views back down the valley. One might expect to notice the increase in altitude's effect on our breathing, but we don't.

 

15 July

Shocking conditions on the glacier today: the lift closed to start with, but when we eventually got up there the hail was blowing so hard it stung through my waterproof jacket. Our patch of the glacier is in the lee of the mountain, so we were able to ski out of the worst of the weather, although the snow was soft.

This afternoon pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Just like Ruhpolding.

 

19 July

Tignes

Last day here. Skied for 2 hours this morning in beautiful conditions - although it was sunny the air temperature was cool enough to keep the snow frozen. Finished off with a slug of wine from the Spanish army team, then went up and down the Alpine slopes with Mike's children for an hour. A good day.

The benefits from a glacier camp are difficult to quantify relative to the costs. Skiing on snow and altitude acclimatisation are the benefits. The disadvantages are a major dislocation to the training schedule, poor quality of the shooting training and inability to do any good high-intensity work. There are also morale factors: although it is good to ski on snow, the budget accommodation we stay in is depressing for various reasons; and it is easy to allow the weather and frequent poor conditions on the glacier to affect you.

 

25 July

Ruhpolding

Time-trial on roller-skis this morning: everyone now has a pair of Marwe 610, although we don't all have the same speed wheels. Over 10km I got to within 5% of Ricco Groß and Michi Greis, who is now also training with the German world cup team. They were both using number 7 wheels, slightly slower than the 6s that the rest of us use, but it was still a gratifying result.

So in the afternoon a light-hearted session: Fritz suggested that I go kayaking with Andi Birnbacher and Hansi Stöckl on the Tiroler Ache, so we did a delightful little river trip - the other two completely unschooled and uninhibited paddlers, spurning buoyancy aids although neither could roll...

 

26 July

One of the more irritating training sessions this morning: 10 laps of the roller-ski track, on classic skis, under a blazing sun. Almost 2½ hours of counting loops and dreaming of my ice-cold drinks bottles secreted in a shady spot by the track.

So this afternoon, when I got to the gymn and found it full of children, I felt justified in cycling on up to the lakes for a few token press-ups and a long, brisk swim. I somehow hurt my knee cycling on Saturday, and it seems OK today, which is good news.

Email from Glenn Grant: do lots of running and lots of weights. We don't do much of either on Fritz's programme. So many ideas, so little time...

 

Monday, 30 July

A new idea from Fritz: before and after each training session, fire 15 rounds standing at the prone targets; for each miss, run a penalty loop. This means a lot of running for most of us, especially in the after shoot - a good warm-down.