If you've been out and about in Niseko early enough, there's a good chance you've seen local triathlete Jess Ripper logging miles on his bike in preparation for the next big event. Jess' long list of achievements includes national representation for Japan at World Championship level and multi-time qualification for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, considered by many as the pinnacle of endurance events worldwide.
In 2012 Jess founded Niseko Multisport, delivering customized ironman training, weekly group sessions and regular training camps for Niseko locals. In 2015, Niseko Multisport's list of programs includes an 8 and a half day intensive triathlon training camp, which will culminate in participants competing in the Niseko Classic, a picturesque 70/140km road race that takes cyclists to the Sea of Japan coast and back.
We caught up with Jess to find out just what makes Niseko such a paradise for endurance sports and to get some expert tips for the upcoming Niseko Classic.
What makes Niseko such a great place for endurance sports?
Jess: The greater area offers endless stunning alpine scenery, volcanoes, pristine caldera lakes, lush forests, and quiet smooth roads are abound. The perfect mix of flat, rolling, and mountainous terrain makes the Niseko region perfect for all level of endurance athletes.
What events are you looking forward to most this season?
Jess: Most of my races this year will be in other parts of Japan and abroad, but I can't wait to suffer with the Team Niseko guys in The Niseko Classic. Hokkaido's biggest Olympic distance triathlon, the Chubetsuko Triathlon in Higashikawa (Central Hokkaido, near Asahikawa) is always a fun race. Ironman Japan, held in the Lake Toya/Niseko region is fast becoming renowned on the global Ironman calendar for it's spectacularly beautiful and challenging course, and always draws big crowds.
What are your three biggest tips for preparing for the Niseko classic?
Jess: Consistent training - you don't need every training session to be flat out, but pedalling a bike 3-5 times per week will develop the aerobic endurance and muscle memory & strength required to allow you to reach your goal on race day. Mix up the training sessions with a few hard 'race pace' efforts, a good number of moderate efforts, and lots of easier/recovery milage.
Ride hills - with total elevation gains of 2,300+ meters in the 140km race, and 1,100+ meters in the 70km race, the natural strength an athlete can develop by cycling in the hills & mountains (we're spoilt for choice in Niseko!) will benefit you greatly on race day.
Nutrition and hydration - whether 140km or 70km, it's a long way to ride, and your body needs fuel to maintain its energy output from start to finish. Hydration is number one, so be sure to sip on an electrolyte drink at regular intervals while riding. The body needs to have its glycogen levels replenished throughout the ride too, which means it's important to refuel while pedalling. Test a variety of different options - sports gels/bars/chews, bananas, cookies - preferably easy to digest calories. Practice hydrating & fueling during training, find a nutrition strategy that works best for you, and stick to it during the race.
About Niseko Multisport
Niseko Multisport provides face-to-face and online triathlon & fitness coaching to athletes across the globe. Our personally customized training programs cater to the athlete's specific abilities, fitness level, and overall life situation, which will see you reach your triathlon & fitness goals faster!
Niseko Multisport is based in Niseko, Japan - an endurance sports training wonderland.