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Race Reports 2012

Deca Enduroman - Carl Atkinson (June 2012)

Decaman 2012 by Carl Atkinson

Tigers in the woods? tigers in the woods? you can't be scared of them. I listened intently to my dad,

at what I assumed was advice. unless, I said, what if there are? of course, he said, if there are, then run like bugger!!

this has never left me, though sadly on the 25th May 2012, he did. 5 days before this race.

All I'm going to say on this is my number one fan was with me every step of every mile for the whole race,

 To live your life your own way, to stand up when others sit,

 to sing terribly but sing all the same and above all be able to laugh at yourself,

 I think it's not a bad life, I'll always miss you,

 and I'll try to be more like you every day,

 you were one of a kind,

 love Carl,

 R.I.P Dad (George Alan Atkinson)

18/8/1937 - 25/5/2012

"sound bites" of advice in both senses, well wishers, positive thinkers and friendly smiles it all helps in the end,

in the end, what a funny thing to say, you need it to get anywhere near the end, and let me be the first to say you can't do these events with out a lot of help.

It goes like this on the run up to a race, well Carl, you know Confucius said

 "How do you eat an elephant" yada yada, or better still "every journey starts with one step..."

or my favourite, tho’ It's actually with certainty not true, "It's always darkest before the dawn" hum, it really isn't...

For weeks now I've been kindly issued with well meaning sentiments, designed to fill the void where normal advice seems pale,

as it is when you’re eventually "out there" in a race, the words themselves amount to zip, on face value that is, of course as with all well meaning sentiment.

its the fact that someone somewhere cared enough to issue them forth in the first place and that really counts,

and that matters, that matters when its dark, and you feel lonely, it matters when early in the morning you cant get up,

and even more so when late into the night and you can't give up!!

It's those people I want to thank... among others but thank you.

I had little to no plans about how to do this race, knowing whatever I decided would inevitably have to change,

so I took everything and hoped it'd be enough, I spent a small fortune at wiggle on everything from shakes to bars to gels.

I had very little of any, choosing to mainly have cheese and bacon with eggs ohh and lasagne and fish n chips!!

It's like no other race or experience I can associate it with, It's so long nothing you could imagine matters,

but weirdly other things do.

1. vibration thru your cycle shoes can be fixed with cork coasters.

2. wet suit rubs? easy use plumbers silicone paste.

3. running blisters?? nothing helps, nothing!, but tape those bad boys up and keep trucking.

4. do not sit down ever, your feet swell = tight trainers = more blisters.

5. what ever you do, do Not take off your trainers until you finish see above.

The race timetable is important to note, everything else is down to you once you register for the day (each day):

05:55 registration like clocking on for the day, lake side turning up is mandatory, you are out if you are not there...

people generally don't quit, tho’ they resign thru missing this.

Swim 2.4miles (13 laps of the lake)

06:00 swim start, after the handshakes and good wishes there's none of the normal thrash, bash and splash but a more sedate amble

building up a pace after the first 1km, a classic case of the tortoises and the hare, and a duck or two.

Bike 116miles (10 laps of the course)

07:30 was my approx time to be on the bike for, after the swim a short 400m walk to t1, some drying, swearing, dressing, undressing and re-dressing,

pedal pedal pedal, 5x2, or 3x3 with 1 to finish, or 2,2+3,3.

It never really made a difference it's 10, it's always 10, pedal pedal pedal.

lots of people came to visit, FTC members, family, friends, other people’s family and friends like a commune.

I'm not going to write a list in case I forget to add people but I remember at the time every well wisher had the effect of lifting me,

people I knew had travelled a long way made me think wow I gotta keep going now.

A single lap went like this:

Bye guys, hill, potholes, cattle grid, left, main road with pinch points (play chicken with cars), horses, hill, Burley (old people), brakes, hill, pinch points,

lots of wind, horses, cattle grid, hill, downhill!, hump back bridge, left, wind, woods, left, hill, potholes, downhill, T1, hi guys, aaand repeat.

the weather varied, as did my mood but the laps remained a constant at least that was reliable,

unlike my bike wheels, chain, tri bars and eventually and inevitably my backside.


Run 26.2miles (24laps - x.country)

It's safe to say if you weren't running up or down you were walking, because there was no flat respite,

no grassy soft under foot salvation, rock or roots, mud or... more roots, 1136 tree roots per lap OK that's a guess but I bet it's not far off,

I know because I kicked most of them, at first it hurt, then it really hurt, then hang on it just bloody hurt make this No 6. "not kicking roots" to the list above.

some good runs some bad, but every day was a marathon and that is just it, everyday starting around 6-7pm a whole marathon.

this race has a notorious non-completion rate, much improved from last year, but it's easy to see why, It's mental, really really mental...

This is just 1 day, you must finish all 10 days consecutively, in under 22hours, no exceptions...

Aggression is not enough, it really isn't. it just gets you hot and stressed which in turn causes you to make bad decisions.

It's also not about the bike or the kit, shoes, socks or helmet, it's about decisive self management, pain may not last forever but 10 days of it can feel close enough...

but with faint whispers from within, that grow each day, deca deca deca, like a war cry, like a mantra, guttural and with steadfast rigidity,

come on then what you really got, after the banter fades, and the cameras cease to click and the dark draws in again.

what are you really about, it's not the question that scares me, but the answers just might, staring once again into the abyss.. like a mirror.

Like staring down the barrel of a rifle only to notice like the revelation in a jilting dream you’re also holding the other end,

a sideways glance and a brief handshake at what seems like an agreement not to shoot yourself today.


To deca or not to deca, that is the question.

you can't do it like a race, you just race it the best you can do,

with a lot of help, tears and tantrums and so much sudocrem you wish you'd bought shares in it, you just gotta keep moving forward.

There's a lot more I could say but firstly it'd bore you, and secondly/honestly I don't remember!!!

Thanks to Alex Mcewen, Rhiannon James and Paul Dunne who suffered the whole 10 days with me.

Chris, Sam, Lynn and Eddie Ette and Gareth + Paul for sharing their cabin and lives (and sweeties).

pink Sal for calming words and reassurance when all else seemed lost.

to all the FTC members who came down and to those far and wide, for helping me over the last 10 years.

Steve Haywood for being helpful, not eating all my cheese cake and for being kind and consistent.

Gerry Duffy came to visit and helped more than he knows, Tony Raynor also turned up to issue advice thanks to you both.

It's also worth noting Mark Padley is the only person mad/tough enough to do this twice...

Totals: Swim 24miles, Bike 1170miles, Run 262miles = 181 hours

to date only 8 people have finished this race on this course.

Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky;

And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back,

for the strength of the pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the pack.

Rudyard Kipling.

2011 - Finishers

1. Gerry Duffy                      (Winner, 160hrs 10mins)

2. Mark Padley                    (182hrs 25mins)

3. Tony Raynor                    (193hrs 52mins)

2012 - Finishers

1. Anthony (tc) Gerundini    (Winner, 149hrs 19mins)

2. David Miles                      (159hrs 56mins)

3. Christopher Ette              (164hrs 45mins)

4. Mark Padley                     (168hrs 24mins)

5. Carl Atkinson                   (181hrs 16mins)

6. Edward (big ted) Page   (191hrs 36mins)

Deca Enduroman finishers 2012 (l-r) Mark Padley, Carl Atkinson, Chris Ette, Anthony (TC) Gerundini, Dave Miles, Edward (Big Ted) Page.