Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deca Iron Race Report

Photo by Benoit Beauchamp, official photographer at the Deca-Iron race.

Here is Waynes' race report from the Deca-Iron race in Monterrey, Mexico:

Race Re-Cap 2009 DECA Iron Triathlon
November 9-19th

24 Miles swimming - 760 laps in the 25 meter pool
1112 miles biking – 930 laps on the bike loop
262 miles running – 220 loops on the run loop

Total time 141:28:26
5th Overall

Jan (wife and partial crew) and I arrived in Monterrey on Nov. 5th. There was a sense of anticipation and nervous energy as we met with all our friends, athletes, and crews from around the globe. It is a family atmosphere that makes these races so special. After the mandatory blood tests and final rule descriptions we all attended the grand opening ceremony hosted by the local media, (the BBC was filming as well) at a large hotel in Monterrey (downtown).

The opening ceremony included introduction of the athletes along with a huge buffet with mariachi bands. It was the last time for everyone to have fun and relax before the stress two days later with the beginning of the race.

The field was stacked, including Matej (Slovenia), Pascal (France), Ference (Hungary) and Kari (Sweden) all looking to do well and secure enough points for the World Cup points championship. My goals were to: 1. Finish the race 2. Run well (second part of each marathon) as I know many would go out too fast and consistency would be my key race strategy.

We spent the day Sunday (day before the race) buying more food and supplies from the grocery store so we had everything possible and not have to waste time later while the race was under way. I was nervous for sure, which is always a good sign for me.

Race Day!
We awoke to a nice sunny 65 degree morning and all the athletes met at the race transition area for body weight analysis and drop off urine samples. This process was completed every morning and after the race to provide a report for all athletes that illustrated the effect of fat loss, dehydration, and muscle mass and body weight. As a group we all rode to the University swimming pool. I felt like I had a rock in my stomach and tried to calm my nerves down! I was matched with Peter Cusick from London in my lane and it was finally game time as we all jumped in the water. Jorge gave us the signal to “go” and we were off on the start of this 10 day adventure.

As I expected, many racers went very hard on day one and I focused on holding back and staying within myself which was difficult, but in the end became the perfect strategy for me.

There were the normal up’s and down’s each day from day 2-7 including unbelievable heat (95 degrees and over 100 in the direct sun), brutal warm water in the pool which was 87 degrees (imagine how hot it was wearing a wetsuit – felt like being in a sauna and made you nauseous). Every day, I told myself to focus on never getting off the bike– no matter what and how tough it would be. This strategy was huge for me as many racers would stop and take some time off the saddle to eat, recover, etc. I have been racing 24 years but don’t remember many races with the heat we had for those couple days. My goal each day was to stay consistent for the day in all the sport disciplines. It became difficult to hold back, and then all of a sudden many athletes started dropping out, dropping way back on the run and then the injuries started for many athletes. I continued to push the last ½ of each marathon and was able to put significant time on many of the athletes and my confidence continued to grow each day. I was experiencing normal foot blisters and saddle sores, but nothing compares to some of the medical issues other’s were facing on a daily basis.

My second Super-Crew – Rick Freeman was instrumental in driving me to keep eating more and more food. My base food consisted of Hammer products and Perpeteum being the main fuel. However, throughout the bike, I ate pounds of Mexican beef, chicken, sandwiches, nutella and an assortment of “real” food for extra calories and taste. It worked to perfection and one item that became an ongoing joke between Rick and me was that on one loop I asked for Beef with Ice chips. As you can imagine, when he and all the crew heard that, there were plenty of “Did he say, beef with ice?” It was so hot and it tasted like heaven.

(editors note: this became know as "icy beef")

Day 8 – Day 9

These two days were especially tough mentally and physically as I had a fever, sweats, and bad cold. I did not get much sleep during these days as the fever occurred both evenings and felt horrible for the swim and bike disciplines. My goals changed and it was all about “holding it together” and get to Day 10 with the hope that I would feel better to finish strong on the run.

Day 10

It was hard to believe that we all (10 remaining athletes out of the 18 starters) were lining up for our last ride over to the pool. There was a ton of excitement in the air and we all discussed what it’s going to feel like when we would cross the finish line for the last time (but still had a full Ironman left!!). I took it steady all day and could not wait to get off the bike and onto the last discipline of running. I decided to run the whole marathon with no walking with the goal of finishing strong. I was still feeling under the weather, but the run went well and the final lap had arrived. Rick gave me the U.S.A. flag and of course a Pittsburgh Steelers terrible towel to wave as I came through the finish line. Rick had the song Renegade by Styx (huge Pgh. Steelers song) wired into the speakers and I saw the finish line. Emotionally, it was like no other race in my life. I sprinted (pulled my left hamstring at the finish line) and screamed all the way through the finish line. I was mobbed by all the other racers, crews, race volunteers, photographers, etc. and had beer squirted and poured over my head (of course it kept my tears hidden). I took a 16 oz can and chugged it in record time and it was amazing how wonderful it tasted at that point. Emotionally, I was exhausted and could not believe it was finally over. As everyone finished, it was the same emotions and joy and the family atmosphere was at its best.

We all waited at the finish line and partied with wine, rum, tequila, etc. to cheer on the remaining racers still on the marathon course. I will never forget the memories of the finish and celebrating with all the athletes. It was the race of my life and still pinch myself that I actually completed this massive race.

The best feeling occurred when several of the veteran DECA Ironman athletes told me that I was very mentally strong throughout the race and I am now “A DECA IRONMAN” and part of a very select group of athletes around the world. That’s when it sunk in!

I can’t thank all the support especially when I had a couple days between crew when Jan left and Rick arrived. Paetra (Kari’s wife) and Angela (Peter’s wife) were unbelievable and treated me like their own family – providing all the necessary food, supplies, etc.

A big congratulation to all the finishers and Ference for a tremendous race and overall IUTA Series winner!


Thursday, November 19, 2009


You can see results and pictures at the following websites:

Deca Iron results

Multisport website

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deca Iron Final Day

Just a quick update from the race. Everyone took it easy in the swim, and all were glad that they will not be returning to the pool. One guy did not like the way his wetsuit was fitting, so he stopped and ripped the sleeves off it. The weather is just perfect. Temps in the low seventies, plenty of sun, and a slight breeze. You can feel the excitement in the air as the support crews go about their daily routines. A few have gone to the store to get supplies for a long night of celebration.

There should not be much movement in the overall standings. Wayne is in fifth place, with an eleven hour total lead over sixth place. I will update after the bike tonight.

Last Day

Sorry for the break, the internet connection was down last night. Wayne caught a cold and slowed a bit but his sprits are not dampened. He finished about an hour slower than the past few days. Similar to the Tour de France, the standing are pretty well set, and they should not change on the last day.

We had a busy day on Tuesday, helping with a few problems. We had to readjust peters cycling cleats a couple of times. Then he got his ipod stolen, so I lent him mine. He actually liked my musci selection. Gregor had a shoe problem, so we cut away some of the material so all of his toes would fit. Seems everyone had a small issue or two, but everyone worked through them to finish. Beant wanted to win yesterday and finished teh bike only 3 minutes behind Ferenc. He began the run well, then his knee gave out and he was reduced to walking to the finish.

Check in later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Almost Home

Monday ended up a tough day for many of the competitors. The weather was perfect for racing, but the fatigue showed on the faces of most. Ferenc finished in a amazing time of 11:20, with Benat about ten minutes behind. Pascal was over an hour back today, due to a slower bike ride.

Today began rainy and cool. Greger was again first out of the pool, followed by Benat. Benat has been sneaking up on the leaders and may be able to shake up the standings with a good race today. The support area was quiet, as crews struggled to keep things dry and warm. It is about 1:45 p.m. and the sun has just come out, so the remainder of the day should be good. Like a baseball pitcher who is throwing a no-hitter, no one wants to talk much about today or tomorrow, lest we jinx the athlete`s. Greger continues to amaze, as he is strong in the swim and on the bike, then walking an eight hour marathon each day. He refuses to be discouraged.

We thought everyone would be excited about this being the next to the last day, with the end in sight. Perhaps this afternoon, the moods will lighten, as it warms up.

I had to modify Peter Cusicks cycling shoes, as his achilles continued to tighten up. He had a spasm while riding to the swim start, and was worried about it locking up later in the day. We moved his cleat back to transfer the power more to his quads and less to his calves. So far, he has said that it is working.

The strategy today is to make sure Wayne eats more than enough, so he will stay strong for two more days. He is having no real problems, other than a little tired during the run. I am sure that his legs are aching, but he has not told me so. With the cooler weather, it is no problem staying hydrated. His feet were swollen a bit this morning, but seemed better after the swim, hopefully he will not have to wear the bigger shoes. I should be able to check in later this evening.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It`s a Great Day for Triathlon

Monday evening and all is going better than expected. The cooler temps have restored good moods to most of the athlete`s. The bike times are very close, with Benat, from Spain, having an excellent ride. Ferenc is leading by a comfortable margin, with Pascal second. Greger was second off the bike, but lost time again while in the medical tent getting his ankle tended to. Ferenc, Pascal and Benat are all running fast, which should make for an exciting finish tonight. Wayne rode conservatively, and will hopefully nail down a good run. Peter had a better ride today and will certainly put more time on Wayne in the run, as he is very fast. All of the support crews are bundling up for a cold night.

Deca Iron Day 8

Sunday was a tough day for all of the racers. The temperatures were near ninety degrees with very little wind throuhgout the day. Ferenc still managed to do 11:37 on the day. Wayne said that the bike ride was very hard and decided to take it easy on the run so he would not be too tired for the following days. We thought that he may have been able to gain a little time on Peter, but Peter had a great run and gained almost teh entire advantage that Wayne had built during the bike ride. I dropped in on Peter and his wife while the medical folks were working on his toe. The Dr. said that he was to stop back to the tent every one and one-half hours so they could check his toe. At one point they stated that they may have to pull him from the race if it got too bad. The word spread fast the the medical tent was to be avoided at all costs, as they obviously have not seen such a determined bunch of athlete`s. No one will drop if they can still walk. Gregor is the amazing one, he is usually first out of the water and first off the bike. He then tapes a few bags of ice to his shin and ankle and proceeds to walk/limp through the marathon. There is never any talk of quitting.

Today it is much cooler, with partially cloudy skies and a stiff breeze. Good for the runners, a little cool for the support crews. Wayne is feeling good, and staying well fueled. Gotta go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 7 at the Deca Iron

The sixth day had a few twists, but it looks as though everyone is still doing well. Pascal and Ferenc are battling for the top spot, and both are running extremly well. Gregor has had good swims and bikes, but continues to be plauged by a sore ankle. He does look a bit better today, though. He has had to walk the marathon for the past two days, grimacing through each lap. Peter, from England is having trouble with a blister under one of his toes. It is causing him much pain, and the medical staff has refused to drain it. They will tend to it once it drains naturally. In an effort to help Peter on the bike, we modified one of his cycling shoes by cutting away part of the toebox, this seems to be helping. Wayne is eating and drinking beyond expectations and it is paying off with more consistency. His times vary little each day and he still has energy left. He will decide later in the race if he has to turn it up a notch. He has a fairly good lead over Keri, and is still a few hours behind Peter in the overall standings. With his consistent finishes, he may be able to move up if anyone falters. I have trouble getting on the computer, as there are many kids here that sit and play games on them all day. I hate to be the bully and tell them to stop. The weather is still hot, but Monday may be a little cooler. We are hoping for a little cloud cover.
Will check in later.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hola! from sunny Monterrey

It will probably take me a day to get organized, but here is the current scoop. More racers abandoned in the last two days. I think we are down to ten, who are still in the running. A few who have abandoned are still competing on their own schedules. Suraya and Arthur are racing every other day. Yves is out, but did try to continue. He was in the pool today when he began having trouble breathing. Not sure what may have happened, but the doctors had him out of the pool and were checking him. The early leader, Matej is also out, leaving Pascal as the current leader. The mood was somewhat somber before the start today, as everyone expected a great race between Matej and Pascal. Wayne is still very consistent and continues to move up the leader board. I am sure that the arrival of the Terrible Towel will help during the next few days. Wayne`s times continue to be just under fourteen hours for each race. The weather today is very hot, expected to get into the high eighties during the day. There is a slight breeze, which helps the support folks, but I am not sure how it effects the athletes. The race venue has been repaved, providing a smooth ride for the cycling portion of the race. I will check in later.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deca Iron day 4

Ho..Hum, another consistent race for Wayne on day four. He finished in 13:53 and is steadily moving up the leader board. I will get the cumulative totals on Saturday so you can all see where is overall. The top men are also putting in consistent efforts and show no signs of slowing. I talked with Wayne's wife Jan, as she is back home, and Wayne was in good spirits, which is the key to the race. There are many folks there that will help him until backup arrives tonight.

If you look at the results page, you will notice other races going on at the same time. Marcel, who won the deca last year, is doing fifty (50) olympic distance triathlons in ten days. Silvia Andonie, the race directors wife, is doing ten (10) half-ironman races in ten days. Silvia is unbelievable, she once did a double deca-iron race. That's right, twenty iron races in a row. Arthur Puckin, 72 years young, from England, is doing an iron race every other day, so he will have five in at the end. Giselle Andonie, the race directors daughter, is doing an olympic distance race every day. I am not sure what Suraya is going to complete, and it looks like Michael Gaertner is back on the course. I will try to get the scoop this weekend.

I will next be reporting live from sunny Monterrey.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deca Day Three

Wayne had another solid day of racing, finishing in 13:47. Knocking out one Iron distance race in under 14 hours is tough enough, doing it for three straight days is incredible. This also allows him to get much needed rest each day. Jan had to leave so Wayne is on his own today and most of Friday. The race at the top has not changed much, Matej is still burning up the course each day. Ferenc seems to have found a groove early, Benat I do not know, but appears to be someone to watch. Keri has slowed a bit on the run, but that may have been a one day hitch. Yves, from Canada had a real good race on Wednesday, he may have just been warming up the first two days. Yves' brother Ben is there as the race photographer. If you go to the Multisport.MX website, you can see many of Ben's pictures online. I had to find a set of pedals to take to one of the racers, and Jan is having electrolytes and Hammer Fuel overnighted so I can take it with me. We are pretty lucky to have all this stuff so readily available to us here in the United States. I will not get any first hand reports Thursday or Friday, so the next post may not be until Saturday. Hasta Manana.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iron Update

Wayne had another good day on Tuesday, he finished in 13:43. There are no problems to report yet, let's hope it stays that way. The weather was overcast and a bit cooler.

Matej is still leading and is the odds on favorite to win. However, there is word that his father, who is crewing for him, is ill. Not sure what will happen, but the support crews are very important to each athlete (had to get a shameless plug in).

Suraya Oliver, the lone female in the race, has abandoned. She did not get in the water on Tuesday, finishing the first day at 4:45 Tuesday morning, which only left her a few hours of rest.

Karoly Breurer-Orban of Hungary has also abandoned, due to stomach illness.

Michael Gaertner of Germany, walked the entire marathon on Tuesday. This usually happens later in the race. He is one tough competitor and I am sure he will rally. He has won this race in the past, so he knows what it takes to stay the course. Many racers tell stories of having at least one "blow-up" day during the event. Perhaps Michael is getting his blow-up day out of the way early.

Just a reminder, the race format this year requires one to finish an iron distance race each day. If you do not finish before the next day's start, you are DQ'd. In the continuous format, which is used in alternate years, each racer decides when to rest, and there is no penalty, other than the clock keeps ticking. The continuous format allows you to take an entire day off if you want. In the daily format, this is not the case. Things will surely get interesting as the week wears on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deca Iron Day 2

Wayne was able to get about six good hours of rest last night. He raced a little too fast on the first day, but I guess everyone is like that as they get a feel for the pace. He hopes to slow by about one hour in today's event. Jan will be returning home tomorrow, leaving Wayne to his own devices for a couple of days. Keri's wife and son will help, along with a local triathlete that is there to lend neutral support to many of the athlete's. Keri seems to be having some bike problems and has had to have the local mechanic look at his rear wheel, he is really tough on his equipment. Once you see him race, you know why, that guy can hammer the bike.

It turns out that the cause of Beat's accident was a collision with a duck. There are many ducks in the park and sometimes they wander out into the road. I remember last year, Jorje, the race director, warned everyone that the ducks had the right of way. What a terrible way to have your race end.

Jan was able to get to a local market and picked up peanut butter, and ham/cheese for Wayne. Tonight she is getting pizza delivered. For the most part, the pizza in Mexico is the same as the pizza we get at home, except they like to put ketchup on it. Go figure, at least they use Heinz ketchup.

I have learned a little more Spanish this year, but I think I will try to get them to speak Pittsburgh-ese instead. What do yinz guys think?

It is about 5:20 in Monterrey as I post this report, and Wayne is just beginning today's marathon. I trust that he will keep it nice and steady, saving a little energy for the days to come.

Injury update

Jan did get back to me last night, but I was busy watching the Steeler game. She said that Beat K. did indeed break his collarbone. What an unfortunate turn of events for Beat, as he had to abandon the race. Wayne had a good day, and will get a fair amount of rest before today's start. Don't forget to check the race website for updates throughout each day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Deca Iron Begins

The Deca Iron race in Monterrey, Mexico began this morning a little after 9:00 a.m. They are in the central time zone, so they are one hour behind us. Jan reported in that everyone was doing fine until the early leader (his name is Beat Knechtle) from Switzerland fell and broke his shoulder. The medical team is working on him, but a broken shoulder will probably make continuing a tough task. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything.

The race has a webpage where you can view the progress of each of the participants, you can find it here:
Multisport mx

Eric G. sent me the link to the article about Wayne, the address is:
North Hills News

Wayne is racing at a conservative pace so he can make it through the ten days. Jan says the food is good and has sampled many of the local items available. There is a concession type building on the course, and local folks take turns cooking home made Mexican cuisine. I am looking forward to eating great during my stay later in the race.

If you have Google Earth the coordinates for the start finish line are 25 42 52.07N and 100 18 53.18W you will see the start line pavilion and you can see the road that circles the park. The athlete's circle that road many times as it is just 1.9 kilometers around. The swim venue is a few kilometers away and they ride to the park with an escort after exiting the pool each day.

I heard that Ben from Canada is there taking pictures, I will try to get his website address so you can view his pictures.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Deca Iron Tri

It is Sunday evening and I am just as excited as Wayne for the Deca Iron race in Monterrey, Mexico. I heard from Wayne and Jan today and they both have pre-race nervous energy. I will post race results as they are forwarded to me, until later in the week, when I get to the race. I am looking forward to an exciting 10 days.

There was an article about Wayne in the North Hills edition of the Trib on Thursday, but I can't seem to find it online. If anyone has the address, please let me know and I will put up a link to it.

Cindy Sanchas did the Stone Steps 50k in Cincy last week. This was her first race since having knee surgery in June. Four months from surgery to a 50k, I wish we could all heal that fast.

This is probably the last weekend of long runs for those of you doing the JFK50 in a couple of weeks. Don't forget to let me know how you all did, and send me your race reports.

Lastly, you can all make plans for our fun runs in 2010. The dates have been set for the first two. The info can be found at:

I will be posting reminders every week or so. The usc50 will be on the first Saturday of the new year.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winter race update

Since I will not be doing the Alaska Ultra Sport in 2010 I was looking for a target race during the winter. I decided to run the Arrowhead 135 in Minnesota. I talked with Eric Johnson about the race (he won the foot division last year) and he had many positive things to say about it. This will give me a race to focus on during the coming winter months.

We had a sled building party at the Hewitt's on Halloween. Chuck, Loreen, Tim and Rick B. all fabricated new sleds for the Alaska race. I still like the sled that I made last year, but after seeing the finished products, I may have to tweak my design a little. There is something cool about doing one of the toughest races there is and pulling all of your survival gear on a sled that you made yourself. Here are a couple of pictures of the sleds. You may notice there were plenty of adult beverages on hand to make the process more difficult. That is Chuck and Tim in the picture above. No doubt Tim was telling one of his Iditarod stories to Chuck. You would not believe some of the things he has experienced along the trail. It will be tough watching the race next year from the sidelines, it truly is a race that can not be described. Tim's sled, named "Cookie", is the one in the middle of the picture below. It has pieces of black velcro on it to hold the cover. It is tradition to name your sled. Sometime when any of you have a chance to run with me, you can ask me about the trail into Skwentna, it is an amusing story about "Cookie". We used it as a template for the other sleds, but made a few small changes.

Only a week to go before Wayne Kurtz gets started at the Deca Iron race in Mexico. Waynes' wife Jan will be there to crew for him the first few days. I will arrive on Friday the 13th to crew for him through the finish. Look for an article about him in the Trib North later this week. I post a link to it, when I find it. I am getting excited about the Deca, even though I am not racing it. Make sure you wish Wayne well if you see him this week. I will be posting reports from beautiful downtown Monterrey once I arrive on site.

As always, let me know what races you folks are doing and I will be sure to get your reports on the blog.