Categorized | Primary, Ultra Running Races

Personal Reflections on the Triple DECA Iron

Posted on 15 October 2013

Well it’s been 1 week since the finish of the longest triathlon based endurance event ever held in the world in Lake Garda, Italy.  It’s finally becoming a reality that the 8 of us finished this race.    I will always remember September 2013 and the incredible month of racing, fun, suffering and the joy of crossing the finish line.

 

Since the race was so long,  (72 miles of swimming, 3,360 miles of biking, 786 miles of running – 1 Ironman per day for 30 days) it’s hard to remember everything like a normal race report but will highlight some of the main items from my personal race.   For those of you not aware, great friend (World Record holder for 30 Olympic distance triathlons in 30 days), Stefan Zetterstrom and I will be publishing a book about the amazing athletes who participated in this epic event.     Our goal is to have the book ready by the Spring of 2014.

 

My memories from this journey start with day 1 and losing such a great friend and athlete to a crash and broken hip – Kim Greisen.  Kim’s incredible pain threshold is mind-boggling (racing for several days with a broken hip!). We all missed having Kim at the race finish and wish him a speedy recovery.    A few race highlights and thank you’s:

 

  1. Thanks to Steve Harvey’s (finisher of the Triple DECA) amazing crew especially Mike, Kevin who were instrumental in helping me finish this event. My super crew of Jan and Rick were incredible as always.   Stefan and Gisela crewing for me totally exhausted from racing and working every day and of course their role as my pizza deliver service.
  2. Never forget the smell of pig manure being sprayed throughout the corn and vineyard fields!
  3. Looking at the same sponsor signs every day in the swim when I turned my head to breathe and thinking about how many more days we have to look at it.
  4. Food Consumption Fun:  Consuming approximately 50 pizzas in 30 days, eating ½ gallon of ice cream on the run, McDonalds hamburgers and ice cream on the bike.  Eating everything imaginable non-stop for 30 days!
  5. Spending 30 days with the most incredible athletes and people in racing
  6. Experiencing the Italian countryside and the one incredible clear day seeing the alps in the distance
  7. Never forgetting the 5 different bike courses and the relentless hills and climbing!
  8. Cycling in the driving rain and cold over the last week of the race and the “Deca God’s” making sure we all suffered till the end.
  9. Running on the beautiful manicured grass for half of the run loop and seeing the moon, stars and fields of corn.
  10.  Watching Ferenc, Gregor, Steve, and our Champion Josef absolutely killing each other every day on the bike and run.
  11. Getting emotional on the bike on day 30 in the driving rain at least no one could see my tears.
  12. Watching all 8 finishers (and others) suffering together (Triple DECA finishers: Josef, Ferenc, Gregor, Steve, Jose, Jaime, Angelo) along with others from the DECA, Double DECA day in and day out.
  13. The main 4 things needed every day:  Food, water, a bed, and a shower!
  14. All the Kinesio tape on the shins and Achilles of the athletes.
  15. The freezing 60 degree water in the 25 meter pool
  16. Running 100 laps on our second run course – because of the large amount of rain, we had to remain off the grass in the park.
  17. Special thanks to Giorgio, Ricardo and the team that kept this race moving day after day.
  18. Spending all the evenings running with fellow American Jaime who broke records for youngest ever to complete the DECA (only the second American ever to finish it in the 1 per day format), Double DECA, and Triple DECA.    His mental fortitude to finish in spite of all the long days early was inspirational.
  19. Angelo – our Italian warrior.   Watching him grind through severe foot pain every day and small amounts of sleep was overwhelming.   30 days and he was at the finish line as we all greeted him.   Tough does not even closely define Angelo.
  20.  Listening to the daily new mix of music on the loud speakers during the run and hoping they would play 70’s rock classics, which normally resulted in a faster, run for me.
  21. Seeing the landscape change from green to fall foliage and watching all the cornfields disappear day by day as the farmers transformed the land.
  22. Will never forget all the amazing crews that helped every athlete.  After one-crash, Kamil’s mother’s kindness, and smile speaking to me in Czech to sit down and offered me the sweet, warm tea.
  23. Watching “Swim God” Jose fly every day in the water and improve overall daily and persevere from a serious bike crash.   The Jose smile will be embedded in my memories forever.
  24. Kamil’s perseverance to come back from the dead to push for the Double DECA finish and Josef’s bobbing head on the bike listening to hard rock music.
  25.  Daniel’s will power to finish not only the Double DECA but to do one more in spite of significant leg injuries.
  26. Will never forget the beeping of the timing mat for the thousands and thousands of laps we completed on the bike and run.
  27. Watching a wedding party in horse and buggy go through the middle of the bike course.
  28. My personal toilet in the grape fields
  29. Oh those Italian drivers!
  30. Never forget the 5 minute walk that seemed to get longer and longer every day from the swim to bike transition.   Also, never thought I would be doing 30+ minute transition times in the cold weather from swim to bike.
  31. Calling my wife Jan every day at 7PM for an update and I could finally walk a lap on the run.
  32. The fitness levels achieved in 30 days and body transformations were remarkable as we all got faster after the first 10 days.
  33. Vincenzo’s mothers home made pizza and desserts during the run.
  34. Carlo running with us in a business suit after his workday and delivering a tray of home made Italian desserts.
  35. The finish line and standard beer chug will never, ever be any better after 30 days of swimming, biking and running for 453 hours!

Personally, my goal was purely to finish this race.   I used the same mindset going into this race as any other which was, there is no option of not finishing and carried those words in my mind every day.   As expected were so many highs and lows that the mental challenge of pushing on every day was the most difficult barrier not the pain and injuries.   After 5 bike crashes, shin and knee injuries, severe chafing, saddle sores, completely numb feet, and general overall cold and a tired body the reason I got to the finish line is from my mental training techniques that I thoroughly prepared for over years of racing ultra distance races.   I was blessed to not get sick or severely injured as those would have been the only barriers for myself and the other athletes not get to the finish line.    Simple things such as telling myself again and again “Stay on the bike” and no stopping/sitting down no matter what on the bike and run were imperative to my finishing.   It was so difficult to “stay in the present” and not look forward but that was my focus every day and it worked.

My sincere congratulations to everyone who finished, participated, crewed or volunteered this most difficult race and my opinion the toughest endurance race in the world!

 

3 Responses to “Personal Reflections on the Triple DECA Iron”

  1. Very happy to have met you, nice guy!
    good luck for your future

  2. vangelis tsatiris says:

    Wayne what you have accomplished is really amazing and inspiring. You always test your body and mind to the limits, everytime overcoming yourself.

    You are a great example for all of us. I am honoured to know you and lucky that you are a member of my family.I say to every one look what my cousin accomplished.

    CONGRATULATION
    Vangelis

  3. Jill Girouard says:

    Amazing Wayne…absolutely amazing. You all are truly your own superhero. I am awed by all that you have accomplished and continue to accomplish. Congratulations to you!!!

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