Natasha Van Der Merwe

A look back on the 2018 IRONMAN® 70.3® Waco Training Camp

That was a blast! If you’ve signed up for the Ironman Waco 70.3 in October, you are in for a treat. At the Bicycle World training camp this weekend, more than 60 athletes from across Texas and the BW Racing Team sampled the bike course, the run course and the amazingly supportive community in Waco. We’ll talk more about it below, after we catch up on the latest BW Racing Team results, so keep reading! And get excited!

Yes, it’s getting late in the triathlon season, but we’re still racing. And we’ve got more to come!

First, we couldn’t be more proud of Natasha Van Der Merwe, who finished seventh among the professional female athletes at Ironman Wisconsin with an unbelievable time of 10:17:07 on a hilly, challenging course.

Kate Braybrook

And huge congratulations to Kate Braybrook, who has been racing like a beast in huge national races. Kate came in seventh in her age group in the Olympic race at the USAT National Championship in Cleveland. That scored her a spot on the USAT National Team and the opportunity to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Spain. She followed that up with an overall age group win at the Chicago Lifetime Triathlon.

Our own Aaron Shapley also competed at USAT Nationals, coming in a respectable 20th in his ultra-competitive age group. He followed that up by winning the masters division at Jack’s Generic Triathlon back here in Austin.

Haley and Brandi

Haley Koop, CP Ross and I raced at Jack’s Generic, too. Haley and I duked it out on the bike, but she bested me on the run to win the overall female race. I came in second overall. And CP finished fourth in his age group. Doreen Redenius and Allen Smith competed as a relay team, and landed in third place.

Now, most of us are preparing for our final races of the season, including Ironman Waco 70.3. So we were thrilled to get to attend the Bicycle World training camp this past weekend and explore the course along with dozens of athletes who are getting ready for this inaugural race. The two-day-long camp started on Saturday with an educational transition clinic and a short run through Cameron Park along the Brazos River, where most of the run course will take place. After that, the local YMCA was kind enough to let us invade their lovely indoor pool. While some of the group did a swim workout that simulated race-day pacing, others got to take in helpful swim tips from BW athlete Aaron Shapley, a former collegiate swimmer at the University of California and crazy-fast open water swimmer.

Over dinner, Natasha Van Der Merwe gave a master class on pacing, nutrition and strategies to make sure all that training pays off when it counts - on race day.

The highlight of the camp came Sunday, when we got to enjoy a fully-supported ride on the entire 56-mile bike course through the gentle rolling hills surrounding Waco. This bike course will be fast and furious, with plenty of long, flat stretches to get your speed rolling. And, we followed the ride up with running one loop of the hilly and challenging run course. The good news here is we get to climb that beautiful hill twice on race day.

After refueling with lunch, everyone went home with a trove of racing knowledge and great preparation for the Oct. 28th race.

I asked a couple of athletes who attended the camp about what they took away from the weekend.

Jason Hill from Katy has finished multiple Ironman 70.3 races, but took some time off after a knee injury. The Waco 70.3 will be his comeback race. Jason said the training camp gave him a great confidence boost, plus he got to meet other athletes and get great advice from a professional athlete.

“Doing the 56-mile ride and then a longer brick run showed me that I still can do it,” he said. “I just need to continually monitor my pace, heart rate, power levels, hydration and nutrition.”

Ana Cecilia Alvear Bosada, an avid triathlete from Austin who completed Ironman Arizona last year, said riding the 56-mile bike course was the biggest challenge of the weekend for her. Despite some technical difficulties, though, she pressed on and finished the entire course and feels much more confident about tackling the course on race day.

The feedback she got during the group swim is already helping improve Ana’s swimming, she said. She took home some valuable information about pacing and nutrition from the sessions with Natasha, along with a couple of key race day tips.

“I learned that caffeine in a low dose enhances performance and reduces fatigue and also serves as an ergogenic aid by stimulating the central nervous system, resulting in an increased threshold for pain and a decreased perception of effort,” Ana said. “I also learned that if you cut a little bit off the bottom of your wetsuit leg, it will be easier to take it off after your swim.”

We’re not done getting ready for the Waco 70.3, yet, though. If you’re in the Austin area, join us on Oct. 6 for our next workshop at Bicycle World Austin. Natasha will review all the information about the course that was discussed at camp. Check out the BW Facebook page for all the details, and mark your calendars.

We can’t wait to see you all out on the course next month. Happy training!