Scheduled for October the Ultimate Triathlon is the brainchild of UK-based Australian adventure runner Luke Tyburski, an event that will see him swim the equivalent of 400 laps of a 50m pool, cycle the length of Britain and run 14 marathons all in just 12 days. The 20km swim will take him from Punta Cires in Morocco to Tarifa-Marbella in Spain, with the first 115km cycle taking place the same day. The next four days will see Luke cycle a further 1,300km through Spain to Cerbere, France where the run will begin. Over the next week he plans to run an average of 82km per day (just about a double marathon) to reach Monte Carlo…
Breathless just thinking about it TriGear spoke to Luke about the genesis, development and proposed execution of what certainly deserves to be called The Ultimate Triathlon.
TriGear: In broad terms you’ve been talking about putting together the Ultimate Triathlon for some time. When and how did it come together to be a reality?
Luke Tyburski: About three years I wanted to create an extreme adventure, one that had never been done before, and in a unique way. It sounds obvious, but I literally stared at a world map to see what would catch my eye. I had no pre-conceived ideas, locations, or thoughts, just to look at the earth.
Then it happened: the Straight of Gibraltar caught my eye, then the south-east Coast of Spain… I thought I could swim the straight and cycle the Spanish coast, before I looked further east and saw Monaco; I can swim, bike, and run from Morocco to Monaco!
I told no one for about three months researching it all to see if it was possible, then for the past two-and-a-half years I have maybe told a dozen people, who have helped out with ideas, logistics, and to bounce concepts off.
I released The Ultimate Triathlon in February this year at The 220 Triathlon Show, telling the world what I am doing. So I guess I have to now!
Luke Tyburski: I have no idea why the straight between Africa and Europe caught my attention, I’ve never been to the area before, nor have I ever thought about swimming oceans if I’m completely honest. I don’t have a swimming background, although I learnt to swim when I was a toddler, I’ve never actually done any swim training up until about two-and-a-half years ago.
TriGear: What support will you have in terms of safety on the swim?
Luke Tyburski: A Spanish company ACNEC provide boats, and some support crew for crossing the Gibraltar Straight, so they’ll shadow me as I dodge shipping tankers, other boats, and provide information on the strong currents and tides.
The usual way to swim the straight is from Spain to Morocco (unless you are doing a two-way) as swimming the direction I am is a lot more difficult and dangerous due to the strong currents, tanker schedules, and offshore winds.
I’ve no doubt I’ll have one or two of my own crew on the support boats to yell ‘supportive’ things at me, and throw my nutrition at me…
TriGear: Any particular fears about the swim?
Luke Tyburski: That the tide and currents won’t let me start swimming early enough in the morning.
As I have about 115km to cycle on the first day once I’ve completed what will be the 7-9 hours of swimming, if I set off too late in the morning, I’ll finish very late that night on the bike. This will shorten my sleep/recovery time before I have to get up the next morning to start at a pre-designated time and cycle all day.
Luke Tyburski: The core group of my crew will be a mix of medical professional, friends, and family, all of whom I’ve known for many years. It’s important when doing ultra long endurance events that you trust your support crew, so if they tell you to do something you don’t second-guess it or resist.
I will also have other friends dropping in and out along the way to support, and encourage too. There will be plenty of laughs, banter, and unplanned mayhem I’m sure…
TriGear: What about physio and massage? You have that covered?
Luke Tyburski: I have known my physiotherapist for many years, back before I was an endurance adventurer and just a broken down footballer. He knows my body and me, better than I know myself sometimes; he was the first person to get on board my support crew.
I’m trying to convince a good friend of mine who is an excellent massage therapist to tag along, he is a multiple Ironman finisher, speaks Spanish, and is a handy bike mechanic; so clearly he is the guy I need…
TriGear: Do you have a general over-night recovery strategy planned?
Luke Tyburski: In short, eat, massage, eat, ice bath, eat, and sleep…. This pretty much sums it up really.
Getting good quality food into my body will be key, taking care of any niggles, preparing my body for the next day will be the plan. But most of all get to bed as quickly as I can, I’ll be in a state of sleep deprivation pretty much from day two, so being efficient once I finish each day in regards to recovery techniques, refuelling, and the numerous media commitments I’ll have is vital.
TriGear: How did you pick out the route for the bike and run?
Luke Tyburski: The Spanish coast literally highlighted itself in front of me, and from there I just thought I would stick with hugging the coastline along what looked to be a runnable stretch to Monaco.
TriGear: Which part of the bike section looks most daunting at the moment?
Probably the final day, as I will be edging on the Pyrenees, so it will be lumpy, not exactly an easy finish to four-and-a-half days and 1400km in the saddle…
TriGear: And the run. Apart from the obvious distances involved, any particular challenges?
Luke Tyburski: Some of it will be on busy roads, so not getting ‘clipped’ by passing motorists. So that and the constant need to put one foot in front of the other all day for a week.
TriGear: Tell us about the preparation for this. What’s you’re training been like?
Luke Tyburski: This has been a great challenge for me, figuring out how I train for something like this. As a fitness coach and self-coached athlete, I’ve had to think differently on how to tackle this beast.
There will be three phases of my training, continually circulating throughout the year:
Block Phase – I’ll swim, bike, run, gym, and complete mental strength training. This will be between 18-25 hours a week for a 4-6 week period. This part is all about being consistent, and ticking over the training sessions.
Loading Phase – For a 5-10 day period, I’ll focus on 1-2 of the triathlon disciplines, completing some long and high mileage days, like in a training camp environment.
Recovery Phase – Immediately following a loading phase, I will then have 5-10 days (more if needed) of recovery time. I will do something some days of this period, but not all. This phase is the most important in my eyes; it’s here where my body will become stronger to tackle the long and numerous days of The Ultimate Triathlon…
Luke Tyburski: I will be wearing Kusaga Athletic base layers, cycling jerseys, and technical running shirts. They are innovators in sustainable sports wear, only using natural and renewable fibres to create their products.
I’m currently in negotiations with many other brands who fit into The Ultimate Triathlon and will help me complete this challenge in a fast, efficient, and comfortable way. Update coming soon!
TriGear: You’re big on nutrition – what are your options going to be during these 12 days?
Luke Tyburski: Real Food! I don’t eat processed foods, gels, and artificial energy bars full of crap made in a lab.
Along with a nutrition sponsor (that I hope I can announce any day now) I will be eating my own homemade energy bars, loafs, and snacks just like I’ve done for the past couple of years during my ultra long races, and adventures.
Nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, will be on hand as well I’m sure, you never know when you get a craving to gnaw on a carrot, right?
TriGear: In general terms how’s you’re day-to-day nutrition?
Luke Tyburski: Several years ago my stomach (for still no-known reason) decided to bloat, become sore, and make me feel lethargic.
I got ride of wheat, gluten, dairy, and changed the way I ate. Over two years later, I’ve seen that many people, tried so many weird and wacky things to try and get down to the cause, and find a way where on random days, and eating food which I don’t usually get a reaction from, well reacts.
But I have found a way to eat, which minimises the amount of random bloating, tiredness, and digestive discomfort. It’s still a constant battle, but eating the way I do helps noticeably. I eat what the general public may deem a high fat, and low carbohydrate diet; it’s full of organic foods that are as close to their natural source as possible. Lots of vegetables, a little fruit, seeds, nuts, some meat and fish, and things like quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth. I use plenty of herbs and spices, and natural flavourings; my favourites are ginger, garlic, and turmeric.
TriGear: Any guilty pleasure with food?
Luke Tyburski: I love what I eat, and get excited about experimenting with different things, so I don’t need what you might call ‘guilty pleasures.’ My body doesn’t agree with processed ‘guilty pleasures’, so it’s not worth the pain and discomfort to be honest.
I make my own chocolate using raw cacao powder, and other natural ingredients. I also bake my own ‘real food’ wheat, gluten and dairy free cakes, using unprocessed, all natural ingredients!
TriGear: You’re making good use of social media for the Ultimate Triathlon with plans for some live streaming too, right?
Luke Tyburski: Social media is great to connect with the masses, a fun way to interact with followers and show exactly what is going on during the day at any given time.
The Ultimate Triathlon will be filmed and streamed in live time throughout the 12 days. There will also be web chats, and video updates via social media too. Followers will be able to experience this challenge with me, I want them all to be part of the journey, and live the experience with me.
TriGear will keep you posted on his progress.