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LR G4 Challenge: Unusual training for the competitors

Steam rooms, multiple layers of clothing and foreign deserts have all been used by competitors to replicate the spectacular terrain, extreme weather and unique demands of the Land Rover G4 Challenge. Training for the global event, which is currently passing through the humid jungles of South East Asia, before moving onto the wildly fluctuating temperatures of the Bolivian Altiplano, inspired some impressive ingenuity among the competitors - particularly those emerging from a long Northern Hemisphere winter.

Irishman Gary Robertson found the most novel way of recreating heat and humidity on a level rarely found in his home town, Enniskillen. "I got my local gym to move an exercise bike into the steam room," he explains. "They looked at me like I was crazy - it’s usually used for fifteen minutes relaxation not a hard workout - but they soon came round to it. I don’t think a physician would recommend it, but it was a good way to get used to the conditions out here."

A different form of temperature preparation featured in the build-up of UK competitor Brian Reynolds. To get a taste of physical exercise in the furnace like heat of Thailand and Laos, he went out running weighed down with several extra layers of clothing. "I’m not good in heat, I felt the difference when our temperature recently rose to 13ºC," he says. "Obviously the extra layers made me sweat more. But it has been a very long winter and there’s only so much you can do. We had snow on the ground until two weeks ago."

And he wasn’t the only competitor practicing on unusual forms of transport. German firefighter Robert Schweiger spent many hours on his trail bike. "It’s very good all-round conditioning for strength, stamina and co-ordination. Going uphill on a mountain bike might be great training but it can be a bit boring."

For others, the event’s hugely varied and extreme challenges necessitated a change of scenery - or even country. Italian lifeguard, Marco Martinuzzi, who starts off wearing the prized yellow leader’s jersey, headed down to the Tunisian desert for "perfect training" on a Land Rover group trip. "It was hot and we were driving on desert tracks and in the mountains," he says. "I’m not good on technical stuff but every time someone had a mechanical problem they would shout: "G4 man, over here". It taught me a lot."

Not everyone had to travel so far. Spanish competitor, Gabriel Maldonado, left Madrid for an athletics complex in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and a workout at 2,300 metres. "I know it’s not as high as Bolivia where we’ll be at 4,000 metres," he stresses. "But it was getting me used to higher altitude."

South African professional sportsman, Martin Dreyer, also stayed in his own country. But he spent recent summer months away from his Cape Town home competing in kayak races in hot, sticky Natal - a spot-on replacement for humid South East Asia. Meanwhile Taiwan’s Victor Huang took extreme measures to boost his stamina, running three marathons in one month. "I was so tired by the end of March," he says. "I eased off in April. Now I hope I have the energy to complete the Challenge. It’s the first time Taiwan has entered and I feel very proud."

2006/04/27 I 19:31 CET I Editor:

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