Mark Hohe-Dorst: "The deca is one of my goals in life"

Mark Hohe-Dorst will take part in the DECA Continuous for the second time in 2018. In addition to sports, the German athlete likes to deal with figures and statistics on ultratriathlon. In the interview he reveals what records still have to be broken and why one of his life's goals is to finish a DECA.  

Mark, you were the ninety-sixth athlete in the world to finish the DECA Continuous last year. That's just one of many numbers you collect - where did you get that passion for statistics?

I've loved statistics since I was a kid. I liked to make lists of the German football championship and calculate values. When Microsoft launched Excel 1.0, it was a feast day for me.


You are also happy that the Germans are strongly represented in the DECA statistics...

Yes - last year, for example, three Germans fought for the "title" of the 10th German finisher: Torsten Kühn-Schad, Alois Ruhland and myself. This already shows that the Germans are strongly represented with about 10% of the finisher field and like to test their limits. The German record of Marcel Heinig from 2008 (206:29:01 hours) is also interesting. 


What other exciting records do you know about the DECA Continuous? 

What is exciting is the fact that there are only six people in the world who have remained below the 200-hour limit. Maybe we'll have another one this year. At swissultra we can look forward to something special: We are looking for the 100th man (currently 99 men and 10 women) to successfully complete a DECA Continuous. It will be one of the following participants: Matthieu Hiltenbrand (FRA), Richard Jung (GER), Sarath Chandra Reddy Manchala (IND), Manfred Matschke (GER), Vladimir Matveev (RUS), Károly Mindum (HUN), Zoltán Pötör (HUN), Ronny Rössler (GER) and Zoltán Szabó (HUN). 


Mark Hohe-Dorst at the finish of the DECA Continuous in Switzerland 2017 (Photos: swissultra / Stefan Meier)

According to your website ultrathlet.de, the DECA is one of your goals in life. Why?

I believe that one should set oneself life goals, since our stay on this planet is limited. I see the DECA as a great challenge, for which one has to prepare mentally and sportily, but also logistically. The sporting aspect, which is more important for shorter distances, is "only" a part of the total effort. 


And the other part?  

Every athlete is faced with the question of how to find supporters for his project for a period of 14 days, for example. The financial expenditure is also an obstacle for many. This composition of mosaic pieces in order to be successful in the end has a special charm for me. Of course, it is also a great feeling to have achieved something that only a few people have achieved. To date, just over 100 people have crossed the finish line since the first DECA was held in Mexico in 1992.


Athlete presentation at the DECA Continuous in Switzerland 2017 (Photos: swissultra / Katrin Meier)

In addition to the Continuous DECA, there is a second variant: the "one per day", in which a triathlon is held every day at Ironman distance. You have already made both DECA variants. Which is more difficult?

There is only one answer to this question: despite their similarities, the competitions are not comparable. The schedule and timing (gross/net time) are so fundamentally different that the approaches and tactical orientations are subject to completely different requirements. I prefer the "real" ultra distances, i.e. the continuous version with the individual disciplines in a row. Compared to the daily variant, the logistical effort is supplemented by the own race or sleep division. I like tactics and exploring limits - in other words, getting to know my body. In terms of ranking, I did better in the day variant. 


Night swimming at DECA Continuous in Switzerland 2017 (Photos: swissultra / Katrin Meier)

What experiences do you take from last year and what would you like to optimise this year?

I remember swimming well - it wasn't the best part of my competition. This year I will try to inhibit the water flow in the neoprene, so that I am not at my limit again after 25 kilometres and not totally hypothermic. That's why I tested a neoprene shirt under the actual neoprene at the Triple in Lensahn. A second optimization point is the position on the wheel to relieve the seat bones on the one hand and to improve the aerodynamics on the other. In the end I want to finish with fewer injuries and a better time.


With a better time means: in less than ten days? 

Last year, my end time was half a day longer; this year, of course, I want to stay under ten days. I consider it realistic to be able to achieve this goal. However, I always have several goals: One of them, of course, is to finish the race successfully, even at maximum time. Another goal: If everything goes gigantically well against expectations, I try to stay under nine days or even attack the German record. 

Cycling and last cycle lap; Mark Hohe-Dorst with Daniel Meier and his supervisors at swissultra 2017 (Photos: swissultra / Katrin Meier)

Speaking of records: Do you think there will be another world record this year?

Richard Jung is surely able to attack the world record of the Frenchman Fabrice Lucas from 1997 (192:08:26 hours). The track and the external conditions are not easy in Buchs, but Richard has - besides his sporting abilities - the enormously important characteristics to be insensitive to temperature (except when swimming) and also to tolerate almost everything in his diet. Longer distances are well known to him. All in all, these are good conditions. It will be interesting!


And the last question: Do you have tips and tricks for athletes who (want to) do a deca for the first time?

I don't like to give tips, because every body reacts differently to permanent stress, cold, heat or various foods. Nevertheless, I have written down a few general tips on my website that can help you not to make too many mistakes. I am also still trying to find out how I can swim well and have fewer problems "in the intimate zone" when cycling, for example. I also think that the starters at swissultra - DECA Continuous know exactly what they are doing. The DNF rate of 0% from the previous year proves this impressively.

Support zone and Mark's support tent; running course at swissultra 2017 (Photos: swissultra / Katrin Meier)

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