European Inferno Adventure
The weekend of 3rd and 4th of August seen Bex and myself compete at the European Inferno. This was a fitness based competition held at the National Indoor Athletics Centre (N.I.A.C.) in Cardiff.
The competition was a partner based competition with athletes being in pairs of males and females. My partner was endurance athlete, passionate cycler and Personal Trainer Stuart Morgan. Bex teamed up with school teacher and passionate crossfit athlete Jess Higgit. There were over 114 male teams and 75 female teams in the competition.
The two days consisted of six workouts, with four being on the Saturday and two on the Sunday. I was looking forward to the weekend and the challenge of the workouts. I was towards the end of a tough football preseason and off the back of a week of warm weather training in Tenerife with my brother Tommy O’Sullivan who is a professional footballer at Cardiff City. Stuart is renowned for his high aerobic capacity, but was off the back of a two week holiday all inclusive in Gran Canaria. However, he had managed to train 5-6 times throughout the two week break. So we both were in pretty good condition for the challenge of the workouts.
Sam and Bex at the end of Workout 6 of the European Inferno
4 Minute Period for both athletes to work up to a 1 Rep Max strict Press. 60 seconds rest. 4 Minute Period for both athletes to work up to a 1 Rep Max Clean.
With myself being a footballer and Stuart an endurance athlete maximum strength tests like this were never going to be our strength.
I successfully lifted 70 kg, 75 kg and 80 kg in my 4 minute window for the strict press. The strict press is a press from the shoulder to the overhead position with no use of the lower body. I even had a shot at 85 kg, but this was too heavy. Stuart also pushed himself and managed to successfully lift 60 kg.
We added weight to the bar in the 60 second rest interval while Stuart successfully cleaned 60 kg, 70 kg and 80 kg. I started on 80 kg to get a feel for the movement and jumped straight to 100 kg. Again the lift was successful. With the competition element, the crowd cheering and the adrenalin the 100 kg absolutely flew up. We stripped the bar back to 90 kg for Stuart to have a attempt and this was a bridge too far. I therefore had 60 seconds to get in one or possible two more attempts. We put 105 kg on the bar and I exploded out of the bottom position of the clean. If I got this lift it would be a new Personal Best. I caught the bar in a deep front squat position and once I knew I had the bar in the rack position I stood up. I had a new PB!! BOOM!! We still had 30 seconds left and Stuart didn’t want to have another pop at 90 kg, we didn’t really have time to strip the bar. So we loaded 2 x 1.25 kg each side taking the weight up to 107.5 kg. Adrenalin was pumping and I beat my PB for the second time in less than a minute, successfully getting the lift.
So our total score for workout one was a total of the four lifts which equalled 327.5 kg. Out of the male competitors this placed us in 97th/114. Not a position we wanted to be in, but this on paper was our worst workout out of the way.
The finishing position of a successful clean
This was 8 x 150 metre shuttle runs performed as a team. So each individual was required to do two each. This was a event I was looking forward too. In event one I had seen boys strict pressing 100 kg over head and cleaning weights in excess of 145 kg with ease. It was great to see those same people struggling with the speed and intensity of the shuttle runs. As a footballer what surprised me was how inefficient some of the strong guys were at turning!!
Stuart set us off and after the first shuttle each we were in the middle of the pack. We didn’t panic, we knew other teams would tire far quicker than us. We maintained a fast pace through all of our shuttles and our tactics were correct. We finished first in our heat and maintained this lead through the first 4 heats. We finished in 4.44 which was 8th position out of the 114 teams. We were back on track.
This was a workout that involved maximum bar jumping burpees as a team in a 6 minute period. One of the team could do the burpees while the other partner had to hold a 100 kg bar off the ground in a deadlift position.
We were in heat two of this workout so we had very little time to monitor other teams tactics. What was the best way to break up the burpees? Both me and Stu are very aerobically fit, and could comfortably do 25-30 burppees per set each…but would that be the best way?
We decided for me to hold the bar for as long as possible at the start and for Stuart to get as many burpees as possible on the board. I was very comfortable holding the bar and Stuart went off at a fast pace. He pumped in 30 burpees!! We swapped over and I felt great on the burpees. 100 kg was heavier for Stu than it was for me, so we swapped after I had done 15. We continued to swap with myself doing 10-15 burppees a set and Stu aiming for 15+.
We got 4 minutes in and things started to go wrong. The 30 burpees in a row that Stuart did at the start was catching up with him. He was now unable to hold the bar for long periods and also unable to do burpees as fast as the teams around us. I spent the majority of the last 60 seconds holding the bar while Stuart did his best pushing his body to the maximum. The guy pushed and pushed, but we had lost that fast burpee speed. It was so frustrating though, because I felt fine.
Before the workout we had aimed for 100+ and actually had done 137 Burpees which was fantastic. I would have took 137 at the start, but having performed the workout I feel we could have hit 150+ if we had broken the burpees up a little more evenly during the first half of the workout. The best score on the day was 165 and I feel if we got out tactics correct we could have got closer to this.
We ranked 32nd/114 in this workout, an extra 10 reps which we should easily have achieved being enough for the top 15. Tactics let us down, we learned the hard way.
This was the final workout of the day. It involved a buddy carry, where you carry your partner 50 metres with a 24 kg kettlebell and then do 30 kettlebell swings overhead with the same weight. You then had to carry your partner + kettlebell again, before doing 20 swings, there was one more 50 metere carry and 10 swings. We then swapped over with the other partner doing the carrying and all the swings. This was very intense!!
I managed to do every set of swings unbroken and didn’t put my ketttlebell down throughout the workout. My swings weren’t quite as fast as some individuals mind as other athletes adopted a faster technique. Stu did really well too!! Being a endurance athlete 24 kg was a challenge, but he did the set of 30 and 20 unbroken. His carrys were fast too. We did loose time on the final part of the workout. Stuart being absolutely gassed getting penalised for some ‘no reps’. This lost us some momentum as Stu took a few seconds; put the kettlebell down get a good grip before finishing off.
It took us 6.16 to finish which was 76th / 114. The best time in this workout was 5.01, which shows you how fit and strong these guys are.
Day One was over and we had ranked 97th, 8th, 32nd and 76th in the four workouts. We were in 53rd position overall after day one.
Alun Edwards and Lee Drabble of Team Fitness First Cardiff in Workout 4
This was definitely going to be our workout. It involved a 1,500 metre team row and a 1,500 metre run that we had to perform together. We were in heat 8 for this so had the benefit of watching other teams screw up their tactics, like we had done yesterday!!
Teams were breaking up the 1,500 metre row into 300 metre segments. I had noticed that each transition was taking at least 5 seconds, so I figured the less we swap the better. I was the better rower and Stu the better runner, so we wanted Stu to be last off the row and me to make a start on the run. I rowed the first 900 metres keeping the speed on average below 1.40 / 500 m. Stu rowed the last 600 metres keeping a solid speed of 1.41 / 500 m. As soon as Stu finished the row I sprinted off. We had ground to catch as we were in the middle of the pack, but I felt fresh as I’d had almost a 2 minute rest since my 900 metre row.
I figured I would sprint and give Stuart something to aim for. Within 300 metres Stu had caught me up and taken over me!! I started to think, that our tactics were wrong and if Stu should have rowed longer to give me more of a rest. I hung onto the back of Stu as we lapped tens of athletes. With 400 metres to go I told Stu to kick on, he had little left, so I took over and carried us in.
We finished the workout in 8.57 which was 7th position. Only 7 teams broke 7 minutes and we were one of them. This was a great start to day two which took us up to 36th position.
The final workout was one I was looking really forward too. It was a free shot for us. We were in 36th position and there was no way we could make the top 10 for the final. This workout was 7 minutes of 8 thrusters with 40 kg and 8 x box jumps on a 24 inch box. One partner completed a round and the next partner did theirs. It was alternating rounds which made up only about 3.5 minutes of work each. It doesn’t sound like a lot of work but it was tough. May partner Stu did Amazing in this. Lifting isn’t his strength but he did every round unbroken completing 13 team rounds in the 7 minute period. We finished in 65th position in this workout.
We finished in 44th position overall, which was a great achievement. We definitely have things to work on. The two top 8 finishes in the shuttle runs and the Row / Run event clearly show our team strengths, where as the 97th team finish in the Lifting clearly demonstrates our weaknesses.
Bex and Jess did fantastic finishing in overall 15th position.
Its been over two years since I competed in a fitness based event and this was my first ever team or partner fitness event. I loved the experience, the buzz of competing, the intensity and variation of the workouts. I will definitely be back next year. I would also love to develop some of my Personal Training clients or SOS Bootcampers up to a standard where they could compete on all levels of the workouts.
I have also learned a lot about Nutrition. Competing at 6 different times over a short period of time was different to what I am used too. A football match lasts 90 minutes and is over. You always have a minimum of two days to recover and regenerate before competing again. Nutrition for this style of workout or weekend is different from a athlete who would simply prepare for a single match or game in a day. The fact you have to peak and be ready at 6 different periods over a weekend makes preparation critical. I felt my nutrition was spot on, I felt energised and prepared for each workout. I believe my knowledge of nutrition helped me enormously on the weekend.