Josie Adams, 26, an ultra-endurance athlete sponsored by the charity Paramonte, approached Dr Neil Maxwell and the EEL team at the University of Brighton to aid her with preparations for the Coastal Challenge in February 2018 – a 236 km race through part jungle, over trails and up into alpine terrain. Of course, the EEL team did not hesitate in declaring their support for Josie. Rebecca Relf took the lead, organising the week leading up to Josie’s departure for Costa Rica, where temperatures during the challenge were expected to be around 30°C whilst also very humid (~60-80% relative humidity). Rebecca and three other PhD students (Jason Newbery, Greg Eichhorn and Rosie Lewis) supported Josie in completing 9 heat acclimation sessions in 6 days. Although, taking a backseat on this occasion, support in the form of spreadsheet design and heads popping into the labs by Ash Willmott and Neil was greatly appreciated.
As part of our HB710 – Applied Environmental Physiology – Module which sits within our MSc in Applied Sport Physiology or Applied Exercise Physiology we ran a debate yesterday which we have run for the last few years on which environmental extreme is worse – heat, cold or altitude? The idea came from two BBC articles that posed the question of which environment was more challenging. It was a fun activity at the start of the module to help contextualise some of the problems that environmental extremes can bring and allow some of the students who are newer to environmental extremes to become acquainted with the subject and considerations. There is an underlying objective, which is to make the students think more about how they use research evidence, especially in graphical or tabular form to strengthen their arguments and rationales as this will help them later in the module’s assessment, but also stand them in good stead beyond their degree.
Research by Emily Watkins into practical pre-cooling methods for PPE wearers during severe heat exposure was published in Applied Ergonomics today (15/2/18). Pre-cooling is a method used to reduce core temperature, heart rate, and the sensation of being hot when individuals are exposed to hot environments. The aim is to reduce core temperature before the heat exposure, meaning an individual will stay at a safe core temperature for longer. In our previous study “Fire Service Instructors’ Working Practices: A UK Survey” it was indicated that few instructors used pre-cooling and those that did were using a variety of methods. This study aimed to assess three practical pre-cooling methods currently being used by instructors, to identify which method is the most beneficial in terms of reducing physiological and perceptual strain experienced from a heat exposure. Inflammatory responses were also investigated, as they can be markers of an increased risk of a cardiovascular event. The pre-cooling methods used were ice slurry consumption, phase change vest, and forearm cooling.
With only two months to go until the 33rd annual Marathon des Sables 2018 race, the University of Brighton’s Environmental Extremes Laboratory (EEL) has been busy completing many one-off heat pre-screening tests and arranging heat acclimation protocols for ultra-endurance runners to include in their important tapering periods in the lead up to race departure. The key to a safe and successful Marathon des Sables race is preparation, education and adaptation.
Welcome to Ash Willmott who joins our sport and exercise science lecturing team for the next 6 months. As many will know, Ash has been with us for some years now, first as an undergraduate BSc Sport and Exercise Science Student (1st class), then as a PhD student (which he finished, successfully defended and will graduate on the 16th February 2018) and also as a Sport and Exercise Science Support Officer within the Sport and Exercise Science Consultancy Unit (SESCU, 2014-2017). During his time here, he has made a huge difference to so many parts of our environmental extremes provision. He was instrumental in the success of the CAERvest, while we worked with Bodychillz Ltd. and will keep working with them as we continue this relationship. He has also been involved in supporting a number of other industrial partners while working with SESCU testing their products (all legal!). On the research front allied to thermal physiology, he has been a key member of the team for several years and we are now reaping the rewards following all those hours in the labs, with several papers published recently and few more on the way around the theme of heat acclimation.
The University of Brighton’s Environmental Extremes Lab (EEL) have been commissioned by the English Institute of Sport (EIS) to produce a resource pack that will contribute to developing the EIS’ heat optimisation strategy leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. On Thursday 11th January, we brought together the minds of twenty-one of the EEL team (twenty-two if you include Carl James on Skype) to scope out the challenges and potential strategies that can be captured in the resource pack. The pack will be for practitioners, other SSM staff and coaches working with athletes from a variety of sports / events to help them best prepare for the Tokyo environment.
Para-Monte is starting 2018 off with exciting news of the Agoncagua climb by Matt Shore, one of the participants of our Environmental Extremes Lab Para-Monte funded altitude tolerance study.
Matt is a Personal Trainer and with three of his friends, will attempt to climb this highest mountain in the world, outside the Himalayas, starting his expedition on 5 January 2018.
Matt, like others, has also been instrumental in the Paramonte Altitude Study being carried out by the Environmental Extremes Lab at the moment. He was able to take part in the 8 hrs hypoxic chamber test to find out his susceptibility to simulated altitude, which will be very important for his expedition.
Upon reaching the summit, he plans to hold a Para-Monte flag which will be a great endorsement for the charity and what it is doing in terms of altitude awareness.
Congratulations to Matt for taking on this challenge, for helping raise altitude awareness and of course we wish Matt and friends every success!!
You can follow his progress via daily videos or follow Matt on the following link.
A huge congratulations to Josie Adams, who is an ambassador for the charity Paramonte that we work very closely with, and had a spectacular performance in the inaugural MARATHON DES SABLES (MDS) PERU ultra between the 26th November and 6th December 2017. Josie was first female Brit home, finishing 6th from the females (overall position 49th from 222 finishers).
The MDS replicates the original race: approximately 250 km divided into 6 stages, completed at free pace in self-sufficiency conditions in a desert environment and with the support of an organising team. The event took place in the South American Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima, which is one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera.
Prior to Josie leaving, she was exercising in our environmental chamber in the conditions to be expected in the race and discussing with members of the Environmental Extremes Lab about some last minute thoughts for preparation. Josie was filmed in the lead up to the race (including while at the University of Brighton) and during the race and so we are looking forward to seeing the video footage when it is complete.
Josie is already planning her next ultra – The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica – in February 2018. We will again be supporting her as she prepares for the race, but our students will also benefit from a Q&A session with her in the Spring of next year.
Well done Josie!
Conference attendees (Ash, Emily & Kirsty circled, left picture)
Three of our members presented at the recent International Congress on Environmental Ergonomics (ICEE, http://www.environmental-ergonomics.org/) in Kobe, Japan. Emily Watkins (oral and poster presentation), Ash Willmott (oral presentation) and Kirsty Waldock (oral presentation).
It is with great pleasure that I can announce Ash Willmott successfully defended his PhD thesis on Friday 27th October 2017 entitled, ‘Optimising heat acclimation state and refining strategies for the acquisition of heat adaptations’. It has been a very emotional “journey” for Ash with many challenges that he has had to overcome, not least within his family. Therefore, seeing Ash perform as well as he did was immensely rewarding and Ash should be very proud of what he has accomplished. His external examiners [Dr Doug Thake (Coventry University) and Dr Jo Costello (University of Portsmouth)] were very impressed with his thesis, the volume of work and how prepared he was for the viva and as such, he has only very minor amendments to make.
Ash was supervised by Drs Neil Maxwell, Mark Hayes and Jeanne Dekerle and each of them were pivotal in his success. Alongside his supervisors, all the members of the Environmental Extremes Lab have been a wonderful support to him throughout it all and should receive recognition too. Ash’s PhD adds to a good number that have gone before him associated with evaluating heat alleviating strategies and is truly giving us an international reputation in the field.
Well done Ash!
Supervisors, Mark Hayes and Neil Maxwell, congratulating Ash for having submitted his PhD thesis (left) and then Ash taking a much-earned break post PhD viva in Seoul ahead of the Kobe ICEE Conference (right).