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Altitude, everyones doing it

August 2, 2016

Photo: Olympus track


After IM Cairns we made a late decision to head to Park City, Utah for some altitude training. This was my first experience at altitude and first time in Park City. Below is a run down of how to get to this amazing training environment. Feel free to skip the reading and head straight to the video at the bottom. You will be amazed by this stunning location.


1. Where is Park City?.. and how high?

Park City is located in Utah, USA a 45m drive from Salt Lake City. Park City and Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and as a result has a stack of facilities as residual, a number of which have been re-purposed for summer fun activities.


The city is perched at 2,000m above sea level. Our accommodation was actually at 2,200m which is as high as the peak of Mt Kosiosko. To put this in perspective the peak of the Tourmaleat is 2,115m and Alpe Du’Hez is 1,800m.  At this altitude, the oxygen level drops by around 25% for the same volume of air. 


2. Traveling to Park City and Accommodation

The flight is so simple from Australia. You can get direct flights with Virgin Australia to LA from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to LA then a short direct flight to Salt Lake City. The flight time to LA is 12 hours and the flight time to Salt Lake is  one and half. If you leave on the 10am services to LA you will arrive in Salt Lake City at 2pm on the same day (i.e. you cross the date line). These flights can cost between $1,200 - $1,400 AUD depending on the time of year. 


Once in Salt Lake City there is a transit service direct to your accommodation called the All Resort Express. This costs $40 USD each way or $34 USD each way if you book a return trip. 


The summer months of June/July and August are a popular time in Park City. The temperature is lovely ranging between 27 and 35 degrees Celsius. If you are having a short stay book the whole trip via Flight Centre. If you are staying longer look up Air B&B, VRBO and other home sharing sites for more affordable accommodation. If you stay longer than 30 days your will get a huge discount on accommodation because they remove a local tax (making accommodation up to 50% lower). We used VRBO and it felt just like home. 


3. Facilities and getting around

The city has a few pools but we chose to become members of the Silver Mountain Day Spa. For around $115 USD we gained unlimited access to both local clubs which offered Gym/Swim for the entire month. 


Park City has a really simple colour coded free bus service that drops you at the key locations around the area most buses come every 15 minutes. It is a good idea to rely on your bike for transport if you don’t want to wait for the busses, there is no need for a car but bring a bike lock.


There are plenty of supermarket options ranging from Whole Foods and Fresh Market to Walmart and also a factory outlet for other shopping. The coffee in this town isn’t too bad either, which is a miracle in the USA! 


We used Mountain Velo for your bike servicing. The guys in the store are great and can help you get in touch with local riders and runners for the best training rides and running trails. 


4. An outdoorsie type of town

If you stay in old town there are many trails that head straight into the ski fields that can be used for running or mountain biking. Some are single track and others are double but they are all very well kept and are packed sand. If you want to stay flat there is the “rail trail” that covers a long distance around the area and is a mixture of bitumen and packed sand.


There is the potential to see deer, moose, squirrels and bears. Moose are apparently the most dangerous but I wouldn’t want to fight a bear. 


The Olympic Ski jumps and freestyle jumps nearby at Kimball Junction are re-purposed in summer to become tube slides, zip lines and jumps into swimming pools. Something worth a look if you like Eddie the Eagle.


If you want some more O2 and you have a car, then you can head down to Salt Lake City (1,200m) there are a number of amazing canyon rides including Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood and Emigration Canyon and a number of other great facilities such as the Steiner Pool and Olympus school where the BAM triathlon squad train out of.

Photo: 70m Ski Jump Tubing


5. Lessons for Altitude

It was my first attempt at altitude, so I’m certainly no expert but check this article from Brett on why he chooses particular altitudes http://trisutto.com/training-at-altitude/ 


Speak to your dietitian and doctor and get your iron levels checked. If your iron is too low and you are anaemic you probably shouldn’t consider altitude until you are in the normal range. If you are low you are at risk of either getting sick or being far to fatigued while you are there. Which will really impact your ability to train well. If your iron is in good shape take an iron supplement to top up anyway for the week or so before you go. 


Take a quality Iron supplement while your there (I use Metagenics Haemogenics), take the first few days really easy, keep your HR low and try and avoid long sessions. Urinating heaps is normal as your body adapts. After around 5-7 days you should be ready to punch out some training. I found it harder to maintain intensity at altitude so try and include speed and threshold even if your hating it. The BAM triathlon squad have access to an AlterG trainer which can also help with speed work.


Now I have concluded my time in Park City I will head over to the Philippines for the Ironman Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships and then onto South Korea for Ironman Chunju 70.3. Thanks to Wes, Skye, Megan (BAM FAM) and Alycia for making Cam and I so welcome in Utah. I look forward to seeing you guys in Oz.




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