The DECA Iron 1x10 race (Ironman per day format – 10 days in a row) is completely different event than the classic (continuous) DECA with respect to what it takes to finish. On the surface, it does not seem difficult to make a 24 hour cutoff time for each Ironman for 10 days. However it’s surprising how quickly the time limit goes by when you experience a day when everything does not go according to plan (sickness, injury, exhaustion, mental fatigue lap after lap). Several consecutive 17 hour days will leave the athlete with 4 hours or less of actual sleep time.
While analyzing the times from nine DECA 1x10 races from 2012-2017, which included 49 finishers, the average overall time was 149 hours or approximately 15-hour Ironman times if we round it up (keeping in mind different courses and weather dictate a lot in the overall times).
Average overall Ironman finishing time is 15 hours in the 1x10
Compare this to your Ironman time – the average Ironman time for the 1x10 DECA will be 1-3 hours slower.
Just for illustration purposes, I will use my specific times as a reference point of an AVERAGE athlete especially with respect to Ironman times. My Ironman PR is 10:52 for an event held on a flat course about 20 years ago. This time would not be relative to my current older age time per Ironman, which is around 12-13 hours. My pacing goal for the 1x10 would be to average 14-15 hours per day, which has consistently been my average DECA Ironman time average. Consider similar time averages based on your specific average Ironman time that you have finished over the last few years.
Interestingly, Ray Britt and Runtri.com looked at the statistics for average time for an Ironman, “The average Ironman times based on our analysis of more than 41,000 finishers in 25 Ironman triathlons: about 12 hours and 35 minutes for the average triathlete. Swim 2.4 miles in 1:16, Bike 112 miles in 6:25, and Run 26.2 miles in 4:54.” Typically this average athlete if well trained would average 14-15 hours for the 1x10 DECA.
It’s important to look at your CURRENT Ironman time not a PR you accomplished more than 5 or 10 years ago when planning out your approximate Ironman average for the 1x10 DECA. Most athletes generally add 2 hours on their average Ironman time for the 1x10 DECA. Keep in mind this is the average overall and many days might be SLIGHTLY faster or SIGNIFICANTLY slower.
Can you finish the 1x10 DECA if your typical Ironman time is 16-17 hours? Absolutely! We have seen athletes over the years who have mastered one necessary skill with longer average Ironman times (18-20 hours a day) - sleep deprivation.
Learning to race day after day on less sleep and it's a skill that can be learned. If you can’t manage to hold 15 hour average Ironman times, you will be facing sleep deprivation and the key is to focus on managing the entire 24 hours and nap at various times during the race. Alternatively, build your muscular endurance with DECA specific strength training and focussed speed sessions in a typical Ironman and/or training to lower your average typical Ironman time.
The 1x10 DECA is very difficult to finish for athletes that can’t hold 15-hour Ironman times day after day. However, by adding more fast paced training (especially on the bike and run) and adapting the body to handle less sleep, it’s possible to finish the race. If you need some ideas with specific training for the 1x10, check out It's All About The DECA