Athlete Timmy J on getting high

Canadian Timmy J has set a high goal for 2018, that’s 19,341ft high and in the name of Kilimanjaro. Timmy, a 8 X Solvang Camp athlete and 15 X Ironman finisher, is no stranger to big mountains and digging deep when it matters. We were lucky enough to catch up with Timmy J, as he and his wife Dawn prepare to embark on another mountain adventure, this time on the African continent.

Thanks to Timmy J for sharing below… he had us laughing and inspired all at the same time with this write up. See you at the Spring Fling Camp in March Timmy, look forward to hearing if Dawn complies with your Kilimanjaro plan!

1. Kilmanjaro. A 19,341ft mountain. Has this been on your bucket list for some time?
So the “bucket list goal”, was to complete all 7 summits. We have summited 3 so far. South America’s Aconcagua, Australia’s Kosciusko and North America’s Denali. Kilimanjaro, continent of Africa, requires no real mountaineering skills, it’s a trek to the top but also has a very high failure rate. Many people grossly underestimate the endurance required to climb above 19,000 feet.

Timmy J on ‘The Fig’ (Figueroa Mountain climb in Solvang) at his 9th Solvang camp.

2. What’s your training like right now to prepare for this adventure?
Since discovering Ironman 15 years ago, I have completed at least one a year. I love the tri community, being really fit and the lifestyle that affords me… so the aerobic base is there. There is also the learned capacities of nutrition, hydration and how to suffer and keep moving forward.

3. You’ve raced many Ironman’s including the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, but what’s the highest summit you have already experienced?
Well here’s the thing about Kona. I got the crap kicked out of me by the men on the swim and just when I thought all was going to be ok, the women (15 minutes later) started swimming over top of me.

In his favorite role of grandfather :). Timmy J shown here with one of his 4 grandkids.

The bike was into the wind for 7 hours, not sure how that worked on an out and back course. While in T2 could not figure out where I was and why ‘ Gumby’ had mysteriously taken over my body. With my hat in my hand I staggered out onto the run course and though, “I’m totally whipped, how can I finish this thing…”?

Maybe a thousand vertical feet from the summit of Aconcagua a giant rock overhangs the path. It’s a place of shelter to eat, drink and rest a bit before moving on. Our guide probably let us stay there too long and once he gave us the go ahead, only half of our team pushed on, the rest threw in the towel and turned back. Without supplementary oxygen it’s three steps forward, stoop over my climbing poles and breath as deeply as I could for five breaths – repeat.

Then I remember having this sort of fluffy dream and then being rudely kicked… I had passed out and Dawn was encouraging me with her boots to wake up.

Once I was conscious, she turned her back and kept moving towards the top. That really pissed me off, why had she not picked me up and carried me back to camp 5 and tucked me lovingly into my sleeping bag with a thermos of hot Tea? So wanting to give her a piece of my mind, I pursued. Maybe an hour later, I crawled to the top and just laid on my back for a while – sucking air. Once standing, I was completely blown away with the view. On top of the world and not a breath of wind… go figure.

That night back at camp 5, I remembered the Kona marathon experience and how much easier that was compared to summiting Aconcagua.

We all have deep stores of endurance, we just have to dig deep enough to find them.

4. What’s your plan like for the summit attempt, how many days are you planning on being on the mountain?

Timmy J and his ‘wall of pain’!

So Lance uses EPO, we use a Hypoxic tent… (I like my testicles). Eight weeks before the summit attempt, we start sleeping in a tent with an oxygen deficit. We start at a 5,000 foot atmosphere and keep moving higher every 7-10 days until we are sleeping at 12,000′. This process increases red blood cells and helps with acclamation on the mountain. We also train for the event by running, biking and carrying 50 lbs in a pack.

We will be on the mountain for 9 days, 7 days going up and 2 coming down.

My plan is to get ahead of Dawn and then pretend to pass out 500 feet from the summit. She’s a good motivator.

5. In terms of equipment, do you know what your base weight going to be for this climb?
The great thing about Kilimanjaro, it can be on anyones bucket list. No big costs for climbing equipment or Mountaineering/climbing schools – just follow the gear list for layers and buy a really good pair of boots. That and showing up really fit.

6. What are you most looking forward to with this adventure?

Timmy J after his induction into the Timmins Tri team at camp.

For us Canadians, travel to Africa is a big deal. We plan on spending 2 days at Victoria falls pre summit, 9 days on the mountain, 5 days on Safari post summit and 4 days in Amsterdam on the way home. Should be an epic trip…

Oh ya, home for two weeks and then off to Solvang for the ‘Spring Fling‘. Looking forward to seeing Charlie, the coaches, fellow campers and the Timmins Tri Team. All the best, Timmy J

STC – And all the best to you and Dawn for Kilimanjaro!

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