I remember the first time I heard about the DECA in the early 1990’s and thought, that sounds brutal, a 24-mile swim, 1120-mile bike and then 10 marathons! As I was scanning Tri-Athlete magazine back then, there was a tiny article about this unique event.
As we hear so often in racing conversations, time will eventually catch up with you. We all will get slower, but the good thing is that we all have the ability to go longer. Those Ironman times will plateau at some point.
Personally, I still remember the conversation with a great friend in the ultra triathlon space – Michael Gaertner (former IUTA president) when he told me that I should jump from the Double Iron event to the DECA and “there is no event like it”. Trying to fathom the length of the event was mind-boggling until I actually broke down the specific training regime into a manageable timeframe. Yes, it’s very manageable and with a specific training program it’s not an overwhelming time commitment that many athletes think when they first hear of the DECA.
As ultra running races have continued to grow exponentially on a global basis, the ultra triathlon scene has been a slower progress. One key differential is that it’s just harder for many athletes to do all three events vs. one with these extreme distances. Therefore participation numbers will always be lower than just one-sport events, like running. However, the progression of the DECA as the premier ultra triathlon achievement has started to become a bit more of a known conversation in the triathlon world. Of course there are many who think it’s beyond crazy, not healthy, and all the same issues that happen with new ultra distance events.
The DECA has become the signature event for athletes in this small global space of ultra triathlons – however it’s slowly starting to become known with the help of social media and new race opportunities in Europe, Mexico and the US. In the last several years, the DECA has grown through word of mouth with events occurring in Italy and several locations in Mexico.
In my mind (yes I am a bit biased) there is no other event like the DECA. The highs and lows competing every day for over a week in the multi disciplines of a triathlon for such long time frames is the attraction. For many, they think it’s insane but just like everything else in life we all have our specific preferences.
Over the past several years, I have heard from so many athletes inquiring about the DECA and how to actually train for it. There are two different approaches to the training depending on which format (1 Iron per day for 10 days or continuous version).
So after consolidating all my learning experiences of 3 DECA’s and the Triple DECA, I will be writing a book specific to this unique event. The book will include comprehensive mental and physical training programs specific to each version of the DECA to prepare athletes for this unique event (similar format to Beyond The Iron). Also, included will be a history of the event along with personal stories from many athletes around the world. Also, all DECA finishers and respective times will be listed to remember all those individuals who toed the line.
The DECA will be coming to the US in 2016 with the DECAMANUSA in California, www.decamanusa.com.