Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard
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July 2002
Thursday 11 July, Glenmore, Scotland

Training camp with the entire British squad. We have a new training programme, which is all quite exciting, with Ian Woods in charge again. Mike Dixon is on the fringe as coach's assistant, painting targets and wielding the video camera. And we have a visit from Roger Roberts, manager to the Welsh shooting team!

Yesterday 4 and a half hours on the road bike: quite hard work for those not used to it - me included. And the first 2-hour combi sessions of the year are always hard. So, that really gratifying, satisfying tiredness that helps you sleep at night.

Yesterday we managed to get both sunburnt and soaked in the course of one session; the day before we were all eaten alive by the midges as we roller-skied up the lift road. But usually the wind is enough to keep them off. Each day we have had a little rain, but nothing unpleasant, so we count ourselves lucky so far.

This morning we were doing roller-ski combis on the tight loops at the Glenmore range. At one point I was skiing behind Marc Walker on the flat, when he suddenly tripped and fell flat on his chest with the most horrifying thud; I had to step off the track and run round him on my roller-skis. But he was fine.

* * *

I wrote too soon.
Law students are familiar with the phrase "rain such as man had never seen", but they don't really understand it. Not like we do.

This afternoon after a gymn session we headed out to do some strength work on the bikes into a rainstorm such as man has never seen. The noise of rainfall on the skylight in the gymn was enough to drown any sound of protest, and once out, visibility kept us from seeing the misery on each others' faces.
But once you are wet it doesn't matter, and it stopped soon enough. I managed to break Ian's very nice bike which I had borrowed, and by the time I had fixed it the sun had come out; and with it the one thing that is worse than the Aviemore monsoon: the Aviemore midges. So I was left alone on the lift road finishing the session, apart from the midges.

Then, this evening, changing Kurt's broken firing pin... If you haven't done this, or if you have done it on any other rifle than a Fortner, you won't believe how difficult it is. Getting it apart is the easy bit; getting it back together requires an immense team effort, a lot of perseverance and some risk to life and limb from the little bit of metal that flies off the end of the compressed spring each time you get it wrong. We deserved our pint of beer up at Glenmore Lodge to celebrate.

Monday 15 July

Revisited last week's training log and found that I did 20 hours: my biggest ever week. No wonder it was hard work. A shame I can't do all of this week to make a bigger one.

This morning a hard roller-ski combi session, 10x7' at threshold. I cleared 7 of my 10 shoots, which was nice.

Then this afternoon, into the gymn for an hour's upper-body work, then out on bikes for 7x10' up the lift road in high gear. I was using Jo's bike with a back wheel so wobbly that it made me feel sick; I switched to roller-skis and did the session skating without poles. Hard work, and at roller-ski speed I found all the flies in the county doing the same session as me, buzzing around my head.

Saturday 27 July, London

5km running race in Hyde Park yesterday: the hottest day of the year, and the first time I have tried to run that fast for years. Given the excuses, you don't need to know the result.

Nice gentle roller-skiing session around Richmond Park in the evening for almost 2 hours: one of the most agreeable training sessions, as the road surface is almost perfect, there are no desperate hills and the traffic is manageable once the gates close at dusk. And it's all mock-rural, with deer the biggest danger.