Much has been written and talked about the scientific-based approach that has driven Saturday’s Kona favourites Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden to new heights in triathlon.
But how has it happened and what are the plans for the future? And why was an approach from one of the leading hospitals in the world on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome instrumental in the next stage of the process?
There’s no doubt at all that the best person to ask is their long-time coach Olav Aleksander Bu who has led the way in driving innovation and performance – and potentially taken it to a new level with the launch of their new company Santara Tech, which brings everything together.
Building an eco system
He explained how it all came about, telling us: “After Tokyo 2021, I already had many new ideas in my head that we hadn’t had time to really dig into and now we have.
“And of course now we have also proven that we know what we are doing and I think that makes it also quite exciting for others to come on board and of course learn also from what we are doing from a product perspective too.
“So what we have been doing now is more to formalise and let’s say increase, but also to increase the level of engagement also from those partners leading into Paris 2024. So for us it’s super exciting.”
Data is one thing but harnessing it in an efficient way is crucial, as Bu told us: “Perhaps most important, is that the only way forward to handle all the hardware / sensor data in a single eco system – we have had to build our own.
“I started developing an algorithm and method, based on work together with Dr. Ørjan Madsen, in 2012-2013, which I implemented with the triathletes in 2016, after Rio. The development of the triathletes, the Bermuda triplet, records, Olympics and so on is part of history now!
Helping those ‘that really needed it’
“But bringing everything together was difficult as I had my hands full. The turning point for me came when one of the leading hospitals in the world on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME came and asked me about it, and asked if they could use it. That made such an impression on me, that I decided to build a team that could take over the process and enable it for people that really needed it.
“Separately, all these data streams have very limited value. Combined they are what bring in that understanding of each individual athlete, because a coach and athlete can target specific strengths and weakness in order to develop that athlete further. Not only because the data becomes understandable, but because it also becomes tangible – and the athlete has something to focus the mind on, rather than the training just being “mindless” hours targeting a duration and intensity.
“So, how are we capable of bringing all this together? That is where Entalpi comes in. The reason we called it Entalpi (from Enthalpy) is because it comes from thermodynamics. Nothing escapes the laws of physics. Entalpi, simplified, measures the energy transformation from input to output – or put another way, from Maurten to speed – using the various technologies.
“It’s done in the Entalpi software, where all the sensor data is brought together, and allows for analysing everything from calorimetry to intra cyclic variation, intensities, impact of fatigue and so on to understand each individual’s performance signature, strengths and weaknesses, so that it can be targeted and built into the athlete’s training. Training becomes much more interesting and fun this way to, because it is not a “one size fits all” approach.”
‘Not taking anything for granted’
So that’s the level of detail behind Blummenfelt and Iden’s Kona bids and just bringing everything back to Saturday, how does Bu think they’ll fare?
“We’re at the birthplace of triathlon and of course many people say that you can never go to Kona and win the first time.
“That’s because of the conditions, because the heat and these kind of things but I think that we have proven several times before with both the Tokyo Olympics and Cozumel that we are capable of handling these.
“But getting too confident is never good. I think we are in a good position but will never take anything for granted.”
And going forward it’s the run where Bu thinks the biggest gains are still to be made – watch out for their marathon times on Saturday!
Over the winter months we’ll be keeping tabs on the developments, looking in more detail at how the likes of Body Rocket and Moxy are specifically helping them continue to make those gains.
- For more on Santara Tech, visit their website here.