Athletes with altitude
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One such person is mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete Rob Whittaker, currently the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion – who will defend his title at a bout in February next year.
He and his MMA teammates from the Gracie Smeaton Grange gym spent time training on the mountain last year, and Rob’s high performance manager, Fabricio Itte, said that it was a positive experience for all involved.
“I think the team enjoyed the time there,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful area, a beautiful part of the world.”
Fabricio said Rob and those who trained on the mountain got a lot out of the high altitude training, which including running, a mountain bike tour, and more, and they are hoping to return to train more there in the future.
Among those who regularly take advantage of high altitude training on the mountain is the Melbourne Track Club.
Head coach Nic Bideau regularly oversees club training events on the mountain, including for the club’s younger members.
He also regularly trained there himself as a young runner in the early 1980s.
He said the regime for those training there including running twice a day – except Sunday – covering around 160km a week, as well as gym visits three times a week.
Nic said that he found Falls Creek to be a peaceful and effective training environment, saying club members “can rest and recover from training in a peaceful, serene environment.”
“The altitude helps multiply red blood cells needed for better endurance,” he explained.
“The rugged trails improve strength and rhythm.
“It’s a great place for cycling long distances for athletes that are injured.
“We like that it’s far from other towns.”
Rob said the group, which has trained many world class athletes over the years, found high altitude training to be a valuable tool.
“We bring younger athletes into the group, and they learn the standards that have been repeated up there for 20 years now,” he said.
“Standards and commitment to excellence in the environment there – with few distractions – gives us an edge.”