HFP’s Arizona Training Camp – Daily Updates

March 10, 2019 – Training Camp Day 7 – FINAL DAY: What a tremendous week of camp with everyone pushing each other to their limits…something you just can’t do on your own. “Iron sharpens Iron as one man sharpens another” Prov 27:17. This is one of my favorite verses and it’s so applicable for this camp. There is just NO WAY one person can do this on their own at the level of intensity and effort everyone gave. With this being the first year for the camp to be in Arizona I limited the camp to 10 A group level campers to keep it simple and allow for first year recon work. I can’t say more about this group and what they achieved during the week. It was a great mix of personalities and it allowed for everyone to keep each other accountable and to keep track of each other when at times the group broke up on some of longer rides. On paper this camp is a huge ask for anyone let alone for most of the campers that come from a cold wintry hometown. The totals for the week were stunning: Swim – 16,000+ yards in 4 workouts, Bike – up to 410 miles and Run – 27.5+ miles. Most campers got in at least 37 hours of training with several breaking 40 hours. NICE WORK GUYS! Kurt Molter was the winner of the most bike miles (410 total) and KOM title this year. He was up front most rides and pushed us to the brink on all the climbs. Late minute camp addition, Klaus Grimm from Reno was an absolute gem and I’m so glad he convinced me to let him in the camp just two days from the start. Newbies Josh Wiseman (1st year) and Paul Gigliotti (2nd year), Justin Sanker (2nd year aka the rabbit) hung tough all week and finished strong at the Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon today. The veterans; what can I say…these guys have been showing up for years and just laying it down, no questions asked, whatever is on the schedule they do it.

A huge thanks to Kurt Molter, Don Cain, Jaret Johnson and Nate Riggs for pushing me all week and just being tremendous human beings. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do the training camp each year with you guys. A MASSIVE thanks to Terry and Todd Hart for being great local tour guides on most of the bike routes. You guys are first class! Lastly, YES we’re opening the camp up next year for more campers and for Group B and Group C athletes. Mark your calendars for March 1st through March 8th in Sunny Oro Valley/Tucson Arizona.

Thanks again everyone,
Shannon Kurek aka HFP Man

Highlights from the entire week follow in descending week order. 

Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon finishers (HFP Man – 5th AG – 1:44, Paul Gigliotti – 2nd AG in 1/4, Justin Sanker…5th OA 1st AG – 1:26)

More finishers in the Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon (Don Cain 1:59, Nate Riggs 2:03, HFP Man swaps out run gear for riding and joins Kurt Molter)

More finishers in the Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon (Josh Wiseman – 1:59, Justin Sanker again – 1:26 DANG!)…also Jaret Johnson (not in photo) cranked out a 1:50 time in the half marathon negative splitting the second half of the race!

Kurt Molter patiently waits for a riding partner to join him for his remaining ride

Nate Riggs celebrates his finish with a “carb” loaded chocolate milk 😉

HFP Man gives the crowd a double gun salute as he nears the finish

Josh Wiseman pushing hard on one of the many hills heading towards the finish

HFP Man and Kurt Molter take a selfie in Catalina State Park at a beautiful Mosaic

The last time up Dove Mountain for HFP Man and Kurt Molter

Kurt Molter’s winning KOM numbers for the week of camp

Day 7 Relive Ride – Urban 56 (click here to view the entire ride)

March 9, 2019 – Training Camp Day 6: The clouds parted overnight and we awoke to a gorgeous morning…however, morning temps were only in the low 40’s as we met everyone at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center at 8:00am for the start of our 100 mile ride. It was amazing to see the young swimmers that were coming out of the pool having already completed their morning swim. We also had another Heather Jackson (and two of her training partners) sighting as she arrived at the same time as our group for their morning swim.  Everyone bundled up and were off right on schedule for the El Tour Tucson 100 mile ride. This is a training camp version of the real El Tour and we used nearly 90% of the official course. Traffic was light and the pace fairly pedestrian to keep the group together for the opening 20 or so miles along the Catalina Foothills.


El Tour Tucson aka AZ Training Camp 100 Mile

The group bundled up and ready to ride…it’s still 25 degrees cooler for the high today in Ohio. So…45 degrees at the start was still quite nice!

HFP Man leads the group with his turn by turn directions on his bars…he might want to reset his computer 😉 He remembered 25 miles later!

Quickly the group needed to stop to remove some clothes as the temps moved into the 50’s before we hit mile 10

Mile 15 and a much too convenient road side PJ was a great stop for the group

HFP Man stops to take a selfie as the group passes by nearing mile 20

Josh Wiseman, Don Cain and Paul Gigliotti having fun at a traffic light. This group would opt out of the 100 miler and take the 50 mile option

HFP Man, Justin Sanker, Jaret Johnson and Nate Riggs stop again for a stop sign closing in on mile 30

Kurt Molter suffers his first flat of the camp and changes it and soon after gets a cactus stuck on his hand which then was passed on to HFP Man despite using rocks to remove it as recommended by the locals…hmmm I think I read that on a local hiking/cycling blog

HFP Man, Justin Sanker, Jaret Johnson, Kurt Molter and Nate Riggs stop at a general store closing in around mile 40 (Don Cain, Paul Gigliotti and Josh Wiseman are not too far back)

Off the roads and on to the Julian Wash Pathway at mile 60

The lead group now down to HFP Man, Kurt Molter and Jaret Johnson

100 miles in the book in 5:32 and Kurt Molter give a satisfied thumbs up

Jaret Johnson content with a very rewarding day in the saddle

Not available for post ride photos (or autographs) Nate Riggs and Justin Sanker wrap up their day in 5:44

With the group finishing at different times only a few were on hand for a great dinner at Dominick’s Real Italian 

Day 6 Relive Ride – El Tour Tucson 100 (click here to view the entire ride)

Upon arriving back to the rental house we got one more treat to end our day

March 8, 2019 – Training Camp Day 5: The clouds were hiding the sun again and the temperature was only in the 50’s with lots of wind as we made our way to the pool deck at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center. The pool was warmer than the air temps so the swim was still quite nice. A 500 yard warm up started things off then a set of 6 x 75 with 25 back on the second 25, then the third, then the first repeated twice. The main set featured a 400, 300, 200, 100 x 2 with a final 4 x 50 on a short send off to wrap things up. An easy cool down then the 45 minute drive to Three Points, AZ for the start of our 58 mile ride that featured 12 miles of climbing to the Kitt Peak Observatory. The ride to the base of the mountain was about 17 miles and had some really strong headwinds that forced our group into an Echelon to keep together.  The group exploded on the ride to the base and a few called it a day and turned around for a 32 mile final ride total. With temps in the low 60’s at the start most of the group under estimated the clothing needed once 8000 feet on the summit of Kitt Peak. The challenging 12 mile climb seemed relatively easy compared to Mt Lemmon from our Wednesday ride but we were in for a big surprise at the summit. It was just 34 degrees and the clouds were falling fast as the weather changed quickly. Most of us had light jackets and/or arm warmers and finger-less cycling gloves. As we descended many of us stopped multiple time desperately trying to warm up our hands and stretch out our shoulders which were on fire from braking so much. Thankfully Paul Gigiolotti decided to skip the opening 17 miles of Echelon riding and parked his rental at the base of the climb. This gave the early riders to the bottom of the descent a warm vehicle to thaw out in before taking on the final 17 miles to Three Points. The total ride time was 3hr 35min and covered 4311 feet of climbing at a 16.3mph average.

Kitt Peak 58 Mile Ride

The group prepares for a windy start of the ride

Justin Sanker and the beautiful backdrop of the day

Josh Wiseman wondering why he’s riding into this horrible cross wind

Justin Sanker wondering the same thing…

The view from the base of Kitt Peak…that’s a long freaking way to go!

A reminder sign of what’s ahead and your time limit…it was already 1:30pm

Awesome views of the terrain approaching Kitt Peak

More awesome views of the terrain approaching Kitt Peak

And more awesome views of the terrain approaching Kitt Peak

Getting closer to Kitt Peak…but yet so far way!

HFP Man and Klaus Grimm pace themselves towards the top of Kitt Peak

HFP Man arrives out of the cloud to the summit after being dropped by Klaus Grimm and Kurt Molter

The Kitt Peak Observatory in the clouds…can you see it?

HFP Man and Kurt Molter share a selfie (aren’t we so cute) from the summit before descending downward into the clouds

Kitt Peak Welcome sign greets the riders at the summit

Day 5 Relive Ride – Kitt Peak Observatory (click here to view the entire ride)

As always the day ends at another Tucson/Oro Valley culinary wonder…this time the cornucopia of culinary delight was at the Wildflower Tuscon where Klaus treated us to a great meal and plenty of good wine

March 7, 2019 – Training Camp Day 4: The clouds were hiding the sun (for the first time this week) as we made our way to the Oro Valley Aquatic Center for our morning swim workout. Many of us were feeling the soreness from the epic ride up Mt. Lemmon from the previous day. However, no easy days for us at the Arizona Training Camp. Today started off with a 4000 yard swim with the main set containing 11 x 50, then 2 sets of 4 x 200 and 8 x 50. Next up was a 30 minute drive to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area for a very challenging 10 mile run. The run featured 6.5 miles on the Phone Line Trail and the remaining on the road leading back to the parking area. The run started off with a 1 mile group hike to the main trail head where some of the group decided to hike rather than run and the rest of us were off on the very challenging Phone Line Trail.  All of us agreed that this trail was one of the toughest trails we ever ran on. The trail provides many opportunities to plunge to your death or at a minimum get really torn up from Cactus and sharp rocks. Most of the group finished around the 2 hour mark with some very sore and wet feet. Kurt and HFP Man decided for a bonus ride of 25 miles after returning back to the rental home…3+ hours of training was just not enough! When in Arizona…


Sabino Canyon Loop 10 Mile Run

Justin Sanker warming up the core before the swim

The group prepares for another epic workout

Lots of flooded bridge crossings greeted campers during their run

Gnarly trails and high elevation had Don Cain, Nate Riggs and Jaret Johnson running cautiously

HFP Man experiencing one of the many amazing views in the Sabino Canyon

HFP Man, Don Cain, Jaret Johnson and Nate Riggs attempt a selfie on a massive outcropping

More views of the Sabino Canyon…and that’s Paul Gigliotti way down below

Nate Riggs, Jaret Johnson and Don Cain finally reunite with the speedy Justin Sanker (yellow tank)…yep he waited for them 😉

Don Cain holding steady and leading the way on a narrow section of the trail

Wildlife abounds in the Sabino Canyon (here we see the infamous Road Runner)

HFP Man finds one more selfie opportunity before heading down the trail

FINALLY! On the road and heading back down the canyon (see you later Justin)

Just when we thought the run down the road would be easy we find a flooded bridge and 6 more followed!

The canyon creek was filled to capacity and roaring today

The entire group (Klaus Grimm, Jaret Johnson, Nate Riggs, Don Cain, Justin Sanker, Kurt Molter, Paul Gigliotti and Josh Wiseman) close the day at the Culinary Dropout in Tucson and enjoy their well earned deserts 

March 6, 2019 – Training Camp Day 3: Yet another beautiful day greeted us as we took on what is now considered the toughest day of camp…the Assault of Mt. Lemmon. Mt. Lemmon is an 8000 foot monster that gives Oro Valley and Tucson it’s magnificent backdrop views. No swim today as projected temps in the high 80’s meant an early start as everyone needed every ounce of energy to get to the summit some 30.5 miles from our starting position.  We started at the traditional gathering location (Safeway parking lot) for this very popular ride, which is 4 miles from the base of the mountain. This gives riders a chance to get their legs under them before taking on the nearly 26 miles of continuous climbing. The ride was a first for 9 of the 11 riders that started from our group. The Hart brothers are veterans of this epic climb with Terry now retired and a local resident and Todd still an Ohio native (but surely not for long). Words and the below photos don’t do justice for the stunning visuals we experienced while riding up and enjoying the speedy descent down the mountain. Not many individual rider photos today as the group splintered early and most did not want to stop and kill their much needed momentum.

Mt Lemmon 62 Mile (100k) Map

Kurt Molter (taking this photo) and HFP Man lead the group up the mountain and eventually out of sight as the group splintered with Kurt and HFP Man making the summit in 2 hours and 56 minutes.

Unbelievable photos taking by the group on the Assault of Mt Lemmon

Kurt Molter and HFP Man celebrate their successful Assault of Mt. Lemmon

Nate Riggs enjoys his massive accomplishment at 8000 feet

Kurt Molter showing off his rebellious side 😉

Riders regrouped at the Summerhaven General Store

Nate Riggs finds an epic selfie location

HFP Man does the same…down a few thousand feet

Another Heather Jackson sighting…sorry for the poor photo, she’s damn fast!

A cookie from the Cookie Cabin in Summerhaven…Klaus ate the whole thing 😉

Klaus Grimm bombing past HFP Man as caught on Kurt’s GoPro

Nearing the end and HFP Man checks Kurt’s GoPro to see if it’s successfully shut off (obviously not)

Day 3 Relive Ride – Assault of Mt Lemmon (click here to view the entire ride)

The day ended with many riders getting a well deserved 80min massage at Rubs in Oro Valley. Dinner was everyone for themselves tonight and most looked forward to an early bedtime.

March 5, 2019 – Training Camp Day 2: Another beautiful morning to start the day off and things got heated up pretty quickly with a 90min swim workout at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center. After a 500 yard warm up the main set was 24 x 150 broken (On 2:30 with the 100 going on a 1:40 send off for the first 6, then dropping 5 seconds each set thereafter with the overall 150 set remaining at 2:30. So as the 100’s got faster the 50’s got more rest. 300 yard cool down then off to the bike. 4000+ yards total.


Gates Pass 100k Map

Nate Riggs proving opting out of the SUNBLOCK offerings on day one was a mistake…I’ll be fine, I never burn 😉 

Justin Sanker warming up the core before the workout

HFP Man gives the morning swim set instructions

A VERY happy Kurt Molter after completing 25 x 150’s

Klaus Grimm gives the thumbs up after another good swim workout…Jared Johnson gives some coaching advice from the side.

The group ready for another 100k in the saddle

Super popular pro and man of the people Lionel Sanders is spotted (with his awesome wife) as we headed out on the ride on one of the popular bike trails running intervals…what a beast! (YouTube video from that workout)

An EPIC ride up Gates Pass and through the Saguaro National Park

HFP Man gets the perfect angle for a photo of Todd Hart making the summit of Gates Pass

Nate Riggs, HFP Man and Klaus Grimm play to the camera at the top of Gates Pass

HFP Man poses from one of the many unbelievable views from the top of Gates Pass

A little history on the National Park and Gates Pass area

The group heads out of Gates Pass and into the McCain loop

Fun times at the National Park photo stop area

Just say WOW!

Don Cain gives a big bear hug to a local Cactus bush…the heat was getting to him 😉

Terry Hart, Don Cain and HFP Man at the bottom of Gates Pass

A brief stop to check on Nate Riggs bike before continuing on the ride

HFP Man, Don Cain and Klaus Grimm hammer their way out of the National Forest

Day 2 Relive Ride – 100k (click here view the entire ride)

Day 2 ended where it started at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center for a refreshing cool down swim. Now off to another fine Oro Valley dining experience at Noble Hops where we ran into Oro Valley and Granville, Ohio native blogger Mark Wilson.

Not a bad view from our table at Noble Hops tonight

The group enjoying our meal at Noble Hops

March 4, 2019 – Training Camp Day 1: Excitement was again in the air as campers woke up to an amazing sunrise. Today we take on a 60min swim at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, followed by a 65 mile bike ride with 3500 feet of climbing then wrap the day up with a 20-30min transition run off the bike.

The pool was quite busy when we arrived at 8:45am with another triathlon camp wrapping up their workout and Oro Valley regulars starting their workouts. After a 15 minute warm up we started our main set which was a 5 x 500y broken via a ladder (25, 50, 75, 100, 100, 75, 50, 25). Air temperature at the start was in the mid 50’s and an amazing mid 60’s by the end of the workout. Swimming outside with the sun shining down upon you is the best setting for a swim workout by far. What a treat from the dull drums of our indoor facilities back home. The Oro Valley Aquatic Center is where top pro triathletes swim during their spring camps and this morning was no different with Ironman Champion Heather Jackson swimming in the lane next to our group. Lionel Sanders moved to Oro Valley this week too and we’re hoping to get a LS sighting this week.

Dove Mountain 65 Mile Map (due to inaccessible roads this route become “only” 60 miles)

Smashing some intervals on day 1 of training camp

After a quick change in the locker room we headed out for a 65 mile bike ride which ended up being 60 due to no access to a private community that was part of the scheduled route.

Riding in Oro Valley/Tucson is simply amazing…even with a crazy amount of car traffic there are super wide bike lanes along nearly every road and a bike path system that is ridiculously maintained. The route included mostly gently rolling terrain (2500 feet of climbing) with plenty of opportunities to stop to refuel and take amazing photos of the surrounding mountains. One of the cooler photos we took was as the group entered a tunnel that cut through a short section of a canyon to a private community (which is where we were forced to turn around). All of us got some significant sun with a few looking like the true rednecks were are by the end of the day 😉

Long time veteran of the HFP Training Camp Kurt Molter poses for a beautiful photo with Mt. Lemmon in the background. 

Justin Sanker poses showing off the smooth road that we’re riding on this week.

Staying well hydrated is key this week and so are convenient bathroom locations 

Another ACCESS DENIED location at the Ritz Carlton where the entire resort was being used by big banking and media executives. They kindly asked us to leave…so no water/restroom break for us. 

After 3+ hours of ride time we returned back to the aquatic center for a short 20-30 transition run which most of us suffered on due to our legs getting used to the miles and the now upper 70’s temperature. What a great opening day of camp!

We finished the day off with an awesome dinner at the Harvest Restaurant in Oro Valley just a few miles from our rental home.

March 3, 2019 – Training Camp Arrival: Excitement was in the air as campers arrived on Sunday afternoon to our camp headquarters in Oro Valley. All the campers were coming from cold and snowy parts of the U.S. and the warm temperatures that greeted us at the Tucson airport were a great relief. While sitting on the tarmac in our plane I sent out a group text and suggested a “Bonus Ride” once everyone was unpacked and had their bikes built. Initially this was going to be about 10 miles on the bike path but we all agreed it was too nice and 6 of us keep going for a nice 25 mile loop in and around Oro Valley. The bike path system in Oro Valley/Tucson are unbelievable and are much nicer than most of the roads we ride in Ohio. Arrival day ended with a nice meal at Growler USA and much needed nights sleep as everyone was still on EST.



Bonus Ride 25 Mile Map