Race Preview: Leadman Epic 250 Triathlon with Vinny Burke

  1. What exactly is the Leadman Epic 250 Triathlon? It’s some weird race where, way out west, people feel the need to prove something so they pay a bunch of money and push their bodies to the limit!  Sounds fun right!?  The race site tells me that it’s an epic day of adventure with some fantastic scenery along the way.  In the morning, one gets to swim 5K (3.1miles) in a crystal clear lake with water temps in the low 60’s (brrrr).  The morning air will be colder (40’s).  After the swim, when the lips are blue, we jump on our bikes to cool off and ride about 223K (138miles) that goes up and over Mt. Bachelor (twice!) for some lactic acid producing, leg-searing torture. One descends into downtown Bend for the last 18 miles where speeds on the bike can exceed 45mph.  Once the bike portion is finished, grab your running shoes for a quaint 22K (14) mile jog in the downtown area. WebTeaserBendBuckle_medium
  2. How have you been training for this race? How many months of training have you done? I have been training for this event over the past 3-4 months, varying my workouts to include all kinds of preparation with speed, intervals, tempo runs, long bike rides, hammerfests, recovery rides, open water swims, too many pool laps to count, secret training mixed in with a plethora of practice sessions focusing on technique and nutrition.
  3. Have you raced a Leadman branded event before? If so, which one? Yes.  I raced a Lifetime fitness event in Colorado last year.  It was the Leadville Trail 100 MTB ride. Belt buckle
  4. What do you think will be your greatest challenge on race day? For me, there are three big challenges:  I will need to pace myself properly (it’s a looong day out there).  I will need to get my nutrition right and I will need to be mentally in the right state of mind.  So much of our time goes into preparing physically for this event, but the mental factors and the nutritional factors are just as important.  Imagine each one of those factors like a leg on a three-legged stool.  You need all three to be in balance and to be supporting the other parts otherwise some unintended consequences can result. 

    5k swim at Leadman-Source Slowtwitch.com

    5k swim at Leadman-Source Slowtwitch.com

  5. Do you have any specific goals for the race? Is it to finish in one piece? It is such a long day, and especially with the long bike distance, many things can happen.  My goal is to get through the swim, enjoy the bike (and views!) and survive the run. Or, as one mentor has told me: Swim smart, ride hard and run tough.
  6. How have you modified your training to account for Oregon’s altitude and climbs? I have tried to focus on physical conditioning and being at Sea Level, I am unable to train at altitude. What helped me in Leadville last year was my ability to go out early and acclimatize to the altitude.  For this race, I will not have that luxury so it is critical that I pace myself appropriately so that I do not blow up or exert too much energy too soon while dealing with the higher altitudes.  Who knows, maybe next year, if I do this race again, I will invest in a hyperbaric chamber to condition my red blood cells while training here in the low lands. 

    Climbs on the Oregon Course-Source Slowtwitch.com

    Climbs on the Oregon Course-Source Slowtwitch.com

  7. What nutrition do you plan on using before and during the race? Nutritionally, I hope to use a mixture of liquids and some solid nutrition.  I need to be careful so as not to consume too many sugary-based products.  I will be monitoring my caloric intake, not overloading my body before the long swim and providing steady inputs on the bike.  The heat and humidity will be vastly different than in Florida, so what works here may not be appropriate for the elevation and temps and lower humidity in Bend.  I will adjust my electrolyte consumption accordingly. 

    Strawberry Banana Gel

    Vinny’s favorite gel, Strawberry Banana from Powerbar

  8. What are you hoping to experience or learn from this race? I hope to confirm what I know to be true in my heart of hearts.  That is, we are better than we think we are and we can do more than we think we can.  In so many facets of our lives, limiting beliefs or thoughts can sometimes hold us back from making a decision, moving ahead or taking risks.  I aim to confirm that through dedication, perseverance and support (from family, friends, nutritional providers, and training partners) that I can and will complete this race and enjoy the moment. 
  9. Any race plans post-Leadman?

October:               Half marathon volunteer/ pace group @ 1h:40m, Vero Beach, FL

November:          Ragnar Relay-Las Vegas NV

December:           Jacksonville Bank Marathon, Jax. FL

January:               Tour de Felasco MTB ride, Gainesville FL

10. Anything else you would like to share with us about this event? Without the love and support from my wife Lucie and my kids, Valerie and Michael, I would not be able to do these events.  They are the real reason why I have been able to train and race  and recover but most of all I am especially thankful and grateful they are in my life. 

Jason and Vinny

Jason and Vinny

We wish Vinny and his training and partner in crime, Jason, the best of luck as the two travel to Bend, OR and earn the buckle on September 21!


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