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Walkers train high in bid for summer success


Ireland’s leading walkers are fine-tuning their preparations for a big summer at an altitude training camp in Ifrane, Morrocco.

Robert Heffernan (Togher) leads the group to one of his favourite training venues in preparation for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where he will look to add to his medal haul. They are training in a city in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco - Ifrane is located at an elevation of 1,665m.

Heffernan has cut out all distractions and went on a 28-day altitude training camp in Ifrane, Morocco prior to striking gold over 50km in Moscow in 2013. He also went training their last year before finishing fifth in the world championships in Beijing.

“Morocco was very, very tough,” said Heffernan of the camp previously on his way to world gold. “We just slept, trained, slept, trained, there were three pools where we were staying and if we spent 30 minutes at the pool in total in the month it was a lot, you’re just counting down to the next session.”

Heffernan has been joined on this camp by Olympic qualifiers Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) over 50km and Alex Wright (Leevale), 20km and 50km, along with Olympic marathon qualifier Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers).

Sligo’s Ray Flynn has been acting as team manager at the camp and has stressed the importance of the stint ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio.

“This camp is hugely important in athletes Rio preparation,” said Flynn.  “All the elements of 50kms training is covered here at this time of year before taking in some tough 20km work when we come back to sea level.

“The environment up here is really tough and the weather is very unpredictable.  The fact it is so close to Ireland with no time difference is also a huge plus as there is no interpretation to training because of jetlag and the altitude ranging from 1700 to 2200 is perfect for endurance athletes. This camp is not for the faint hearted.”

Robert Heffernan added: “This is a perfect environment for training with people of the same mindset and I’m very happy with a good group.”

Heffernan, Wright and Boyce will compete in the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome on May 7th-8th.

Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile


Robert Heffernan

Date of birth: 20 February 78

Age: 38 years 47 days

Height: 173 cm

Weight: 55 kg

20km walk

Outdoor               1:19:22 NR                          9              WCp      Cheboksary        10 May 2008

50 km walk

Outdoor               3:37:54 NR                          3              OG         London 11 Aug 2012

Alex Wright

Date of birth: 19 December 90

Age: 25 years 110 days

Height: 173 cm

Weight: 64 kg

20 km walk

Outdoor               1:22:09                                 16           IAAF Chall            La Coruña            6 Jun 2015

50 km walk

Outdoor               3:48:31                                 6              IAAF Chall            Dudince               19 Mar 2016

Brendan Boyce

Date of birth: 15 October 86

Age: 29 years 175 days

Height: 183 cm

Weight: 76 kg

20 km walk

Outdoor               1:24:38                                 6                              Naumburg          28 Apr 2013

50 km walk

Outdoor               3:48:55                                 5              IAAF Chall            Dudince               21 Mar 2015

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