BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MILFORD race walker Brendan Boyce believes that a busy winter training camp has aided his preparations for the forthcoming World Race Walking Cup in China.
Boyce has been named as part of a five-person Irish squad, a four-man team and Laura Reynolds, who will compete in the women’s 20km race.
The Letterkenny AC man is aiming to travel to Hong Kong next weekend for a five-day holding camp ahead of the event, which takes place in Taicang, China from the 3-4 May 2014.
Last August, Boyce took a staggering 37 seconds off his personal best at the men’s 50k walk at the World Championships in Moscow.
Not long after that he headed to Denver, Colarado.
“I took some time after world championships, then when to visit my brother in Denver, which is at altitude to check the place out for training and use it kickstart my winter block,” Boyce told the Donegal News.
In November, he was back in Cork to work alongside his coach, Rob Heffernan, who won a gold medal at last year’s World Championship.
“I trained pretty consistently all winter with a focus on gym work and building a strong foundation for my technique.
“My indoor season was a bit of a mixed bag with no specific work done. We finished out our winter block with a two-week block of 20km specific work followed by a 20km race in Switzerland on the 16th March.”
In Switzerland, Boyce recorded his second fastest season opener, completing the 20k in 1:26:33.
Alongside Heffernan, as well as Luke Hickey and Alex Wright they went to Johannesburg, South Africa for a gruelling three-week training camp.
The camp started with the team working on 50k but by the end they were focussed squarely on the 20k race.
Boyce’s progress wasn’t helped by a chest infection which saw him miss a whole week of trainig.
He said: “I recovered to get in a few good days training over the last week and even managed to finish fifth in the South Africa 20km championships on the last day of the camp and walked 1:32:11 at altitude.
“That was a good sign that my strong winter training has stood to me.
“We will evaluated over the next week my adaptation from altitude and make a call with Rob whether my condition is good enough to be competitive over 20km in China.”
Boyce was the national 20km senior champion in 2010 and, a year later, he finished 15th at the World university games 20km, held in Shenzhen, China and he competed at the Olympic Games in London 2012.
Boyce’s main aim is the European Championships in Zurich in August – where he hopes to be in the hunt for a top-ten finish. For now, though, his sights are on China.
He said: “This race is important to get in a really hard race over 20km. Conditions will be hot and humid so the only goal will be to race as hard as I can, which I always do when I put on the green vest.
“Our focus for 2014 will be to preform over 50km at the European Championships. If everything goes to plan over the summer I should be able to go for a top-ten place.”
Finn Valley’s Patsy McGongale has been named as the Irish manager for the IAAF Race Walking Cup.