Bio: PhD Student Lee Ager

Lee joined Newcastle University as a Graduate Teaching Assistant starting a PhD in thermal physiology at the beginning of 2022. He is a previous engineering graduate from Newcastle University and initially started his professional career working as a Structural Engineer for ten years before his passion for Exercise Physiology brought him back to Newcastle University once again. Lee graduated in 2021 with a BSc in Sport & Exercise Science (SES). Lee’s PhD will focus on how thermal impulse acutely impacts physiological strain, adaptation and exercise tolerance to extreme heat stress. The aim is to provide evidence-based guidance for exercising as well as optimising how we prepare individuals for extreme hot and humid conditions. 

As a keen cyclist, Lee’s interest in thermoregulation in the heat stemmed from having witnessed first-hand the impact severe environmental conditions can place on the human body while competing. Lee regularly takes part in cycling events with a typical season focusing on the National Hill Climb Championship. Lee also coaches a number of amateur cyclists, runners and triathletes and particularly enjoys applying the knowledge gained from his research to prepare his athletes for racing in challenging environmental conditions.

Blog: Why is the Kona IronMan World Champs so hard for the pros?

Hawaii is the birth place of the IronMan triathlon where in 1978 Judy and John Collins challenged individuals to swim bike and run 140.6 miles and joked they would call the winner an “Iron man”. The event now sees 1000s of athletes test themselves in IronMan races all over the globe, including myself. But Kona, home to the Ironman World Championships which begins today (6th October 2022), holds something special for all triathletes. The history of the race is full of epic tails of survival (see the story of Julie Moss or Sian Welsh & Wendy Ingraham) and infamous battles such as the Iron War (between Dave Scott and Mark Allen). The weather is generally consistent and therefore predictable in Kona in October: sunny, windy and humid. However, while the air temperatures are generally around 30 oC which are not necessarily remarkable, it is the humidity “swamp-like” conditions that really challenge athlete’s thermoregulatory capacity when competing in the Ironman World Championships.

So why is Kona so hard? Read more here ……..

Written by Owen Jeffries

Consultancy: Heat acclimation for Marathon Des Sables

We offer consultancy services to facilitate athletes to prepare for extreme climates including extremes in heat, cold and altitude. We recently worked with an athlete preparing for the Marathon Des Sables, called the toughest footrace on earth. MDS is an event that takes place each year in the Sahara Dessert where temperatures can reach up to 50 oC. Carried out over 6 days athletes must complete +250 kms, a massive challenge in some of the most extreme environmental conditions on earth, so much so that in 2021 during extreme heat less than half the 753 athletes that started the race finished and sadly one athlete died.

Athlete exercising in 40 oC 40% humidity, with internal core temperature hitting 39.5 oC in preparation for the MDS event.

If you are interested in consultancy in extreme environments contact: Dr Owen Jeffries []

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