photo courtesy of camper Jeff Lam

Ed. Note—the third Wattie Ink. camp of the year is a wrap! We opened things with a trip to Tucson back in February, continued with the Elite Team Camp in April, and now close out Camp Season with our annual return to the roads around Bend, Oregon. Editor-in-Chief Chris Bagg checks in with a report from camp, illustrated by the campers who attended. 

What is is about camps? I think it's the fact that, properly executed, a camp recalls us to the trips we took in the summers of youth, when we escaped parents, hometowns, school days, and siblings for sailing, board games, archery, swimming, and impossibly long afternoons doing nothing. A training camp subtracts all of the stresses of working life, allowing us to focus—for a few too-short days—on the hobby we've chosen to accompany adulthood. Here, then, is what we covered over the Memorial Day weekend in Bend, Oregon, reaching back into the past for that ever-elusive feeling of freedom.


Our first day of camp saw us swimming 4000 meters in Bend's amazing Juniper Pool, a place where you can see, on any given day, athletes such as Heather Jackson, Linsey Corbin, Jesse Thomas, or Matt Lieto making flip turns. We usually go for our hardest swim on day one, knowing that legs will be tired later in the weekend: fatigue that often limits performance in the pool. We used a simple double pyramid of twice through 100-200-300-400-400-300-200-100 on declining send-offs, and then headed back to Base Camp for our first run of camp.

For our run, the goal was similar: get the training stimulus started, but we didn't want to leave legs overly tired for our big ride on Saturday. We used an old Arthur Lydiard classic hill workout, where athletes run uphill for a quarter-mile, lift their cadence for the next quarter-mile (preferably on a shallower hill), and then recover for a quarter-mile before turning around, running easy for another quarter-mile to the start of the downhill, and then running quickly but not hard down to the bottom. There they would jog easy for another couple of minutes before starting the whole cycle over again. We moved into our houses and returned to Base Camp for the most amazing baked potato bar of all time, crafted by The Athletes Table.

photo courtesy of The Athletes Table


The Queen Stage of Bend camp is Heather Jackson's favorite ride: the 100-mile Prineville Loop. We've written about this loop before, and every year it's a crowd-pleaser. This year was no exceptions, with favorable winds and cool temperatures. The usual headwind home held off, and campers dusted off the century fairly easily, leaving us all back at the houses in time for short runs ahead of afternoon naps. We've always gone with Classic Macaroni and Cheese Saturday night, and this year's version was no exception. Heather Jackson joined us to talk about books she's reading, other pursuits she finds interesting, the changing tactics of women's 70.3 racing, and many other topics.


Basically, we just copy Heather's favorite run routes for camp, and when we headed out to Sisemore Road (a lumpy gravel stretch on the west edge of Bend), we discovered champions HJ and Linsey Corbin running along back towards us, Wattie trailing them on his gravel bike. Campers completed runs of 60 minutes to two hours, building their effort as they went along. Temperatures were cool—perfect weather for a long run.

We headed back to the pool that afternoon with a good number of tired campers for a technique/endurance swim that had many athletes ready for taco/burrito evening, as only Chef Aaron/The Athletes Table can do. He accompanied it with a watermelon/pickle/mint salad that we kept eating for days, and Linsey Corbin joined us for another discussion about nutrition, racing, training, and workout journals.


Monday morning we awoke to steady rain and cool temperatures—not ideal for our planned assault on Mount Bachelor (where snow would not have been out of the question). We switched gears and stole a workout from our Wattie Ink. Elite Team Camp, setting campers on a bike/run/bike/run/bike/run (at least—some athletes went for an octathlon) extravaganza on local Skyliner's Road and Phil's Trail Complex. The sun came out (in patches) and we showed off our team kits over the next three-and-a-half hours. Chef got in on the action, too, piloting a borrowed mountain bike into some uncharted territory, for him.


It's actually Tuesday morning as I sit here, feverishly trying to get the blog written and over to our marketing director for today's email. We have two workouts left: a swim and a short recovery run to finish off the week's work, and I'm struck with feelings of gratitude. The staff that pulls off camp is nothing short of amazing, and I'd be remiss not to mention my business partner Molly Balfe, who does much of the work to prepare for this event every year; our professional soignuer Kurt Marion, who works tirelessly to keep camp moving and functional; Chef Aaron Vinten, who has made camp sustainable by elevating the food to a different level; Helper-in-Chief Josh Sutton, who covered workouts and covered our asses in moments of panic or need; and my wife Amy VanTassel, who organized contests, arranged sponsorships, and generally kept things on track. 

Speaking of sponsorships, we'd like to thank Wattie Ink., Herbalife 24, Stoked Roasters, Picky Bars, FitVine, Worthy Brewing, Fieldwork Nutrition Company, Zealios, and The Athletes Table. Without their support camp would be a very bland affair.

So that's a wrap! If you are interested in coming to camp next year, general registration is open over at Chris Bagg Coaching