Iron Legend Dave Clamp : ‘Deca Dave’
I am sure that ‘Deca Dave’ (or should that be Double Deca Dave?) needs no introduction.
His list of achievements is endless!
He has been racing triathlon since it first came to England over 30 years ago.
During that time he has completed the ‘Iron’ distance over 150 times.
Yes you heard that right – 150!
He has completed around 50 ‘single’ iron distance races.
He qualified for Kona at IMUK.
He boasts an Iron distance PB of sub 9 Hours.
He then went on to do 6 ‘double iron’ races and 9 x Triple iron distance races.
Not content with that he has completed the ‘Deca’ (10x Iron distance back to back / continuous) no fewer than 5 times.
Pretty amazing right?
You ain’t heard the half of it….
He then went on to set the world record for the double deca – 20 x iron distance over 20 days back to back!
And here is me and you stressing about doing the one!
Kind of puts it all into perspective don’t you think?
If this is a website about what is possible, then you won’t find a better example of ‘what is possible’ than Deca Dave……
But make no mistake, this guy isn’t just completing the races – he’s bloody racing them!
Here is how the interview went:
So Dave, 150 x Iron distance! Sub 9 IM, Kona, Doubles, Triples, Deca’s – Double Deca’s! World Records! where did it all start?
Believe it or not I was hopeless at school, I would always come last in the 100 metre race and I was the kid who was left standing against the wall last to be picked.
I still enjoyed sport, I just wasn’t very good at it and found myself going down the cross country route.
When I was 21 I spent some time in France – me and my colleague would do a little running as a bit of fun in our spare time, nothing major just a few miles now and then, but we saw an advert for the Paris marathon and decided to enter.
How did you get on?
4 and a half hours and I ran in Dunlop Tennis shoes – it makes me laugh how people moan about a few cobbles at the London marathon – in paris 20 of the 26 miles were on cobbles!
Where did you go from there?
I got married and had kids so that and work took over but I would turn up at the odd marathon now and again with a little bit of training inbetween, just a bit of fun really.
I mananged to get my time down to about 3:30 but I used to look at those guys doing sub 3 and wonder how the hell they did that!
How many marathons did you run before your first triathlon?
So you were very much a runner turned triathlete?
How did you get into triathlon?
I got wind of an event in Northampton in 1983, I am not sure if it was the first ever one in England, I think there might have been one in Darwen slightly earlier, but it was certainly one of the first ever races in this country!
We had to swim for 2.4 miles, 50 mile bike which was loops of a caravan park and then we went and joined in with the Northampton marathon!
I did it on a borrowed bike!
We all had an individual time keeper!
How did you get on?
I got a DNF! I kept being sick on the run!!
What happened next?
A circuit developed at Olympic distance in England, each race had virtually the same 300 people in it, you knew almost everyone at each race – it was great!
Where did you go from there?
Quite quickly I moved up to the full Iron distance doing my first In 1988 at Roth
How did that go?
I did ok, 10:13
Ok? at that time Roth was part of Ironman and his time got him a place at Kona!
They asked me if I wanted my Kona place but I declined! I didn’t really understand what it was! plus it was in October and school teachers are not allowed to take any holidays then!
How many iron distance have you done now?
Dave has done the iron distance approximately 150 times.
He has done the ‘single’ Iron distance around 50 times including the longest day in Wolverhampton no fewer than 9 times.
He went on to do 6 x ‘double iron’ and 9 x triple iron distance races!
He then completed the ‘Deca’ 5 times!! (10 x iron distance back to back or continuous!) and 1 x ‘double deca’ (20 x Iron distance back to back over 20 days)!!
Which was you favourite single?
The atmpsohere and the course, the roads on the bike are like billiard tables!
How many times have you done Botlon?
How did you get on?
It was quite a recent thing.
Qualifying for Kona seemed to be all the rage at my local tri-club – so I set Bolton as the target to do that.
How did it go?
I won my age group and I got my place in Hawai!
What did you like most about IMUK Bolton?
Which was your Toughest race?
The one in the alps
Which race was you most proud off?
My PB where I went sub 9
What is the Secret to your speed?
Specific speed/track work
Realising that you can run faster, despite your limiting beliefs
I did a lot of fell racing which helped me get used to running at maximum heart rate for a long priod of time when your muscles and your lungs are screaming at you on the way up!
Ability to maintain it close to the red line for long periods
Willingness to suffer and tolerate the pain
What difference do the really expensive bikes make? is it the bike or the rider?
Its a combination of the two
I have seen some people do incredible times on ‘crap bikes’
Strong legs play a huge part
That said, the bike is the cherry on the cake
It’s the ‘Ferrari’ feeling.
I remember getting some really expensive wheels and there is a huge pyscological impact – I said to myself ‘I will look a right knob if i’m not fast with these on!!’ and guess what? I was fast!
What made you move to the double iron distance?
By this time I had done countless singles, I remember being sat round at Christmas with some friends drinking beer and someone said hey look at this…..
That was it!
Same with the triples!
How did you get into the Deca – 10 x iron distance!
I was vaguely aware of it, I had read bobby brown’s book which planted a seed but I had already done loads of singles, doubles and triples so the ‘Deca’ was the next challenge!
Did you go straight from the triple to the Decca?
How was it?
Tough, I think I finished almost last!
Which is the harder format? 10 a day for 10 days or continuous?
It depends on your ability
The guys who are racing at the front finish each day with sufficient time to rest in the one a day format.
That is not the same for the guys at the back.
It’s the lack of sleep that is the killer.
With the continuos format you have 14 days to do it so you can plan your days as you like – you can’t do that with ‘one a day’!
I would say the Continuous format is ‘easier’ for the slower athletes and one a day is ‘easier’ for the faster.
How many times did you do the Deca?
5 times, 2 x continuous 3 x one a day
What is the Secret to the Deca?
Learning how to train for it
A bloody good support crew!
Then what did you do Dave?
A double Deca! 20 iron distance in 20 days!
How did that go?
I broke the world record!
Wow! Congratulations!- Which distance do you prefer now?
The Deca’s, there is something incredibly special about them
How do you balance the Family with all your training?
All I would say is this…
It’s very easy for people to become so consumed with their training that they forget about other things that are really important in their life
How have you got on with Injuries?
If you ask people at Bolton Tri they will tell you that I was forever getting injured, but now I hardly get injured
Do you find it’s when you are pushing the speed on the short runs that you are most likely to get injured?
Are you a member of any triathlon club?
I was with Bolton Tri for a long time but now I live in Knutsford so I am with them
If a marathon sits above a 20k and a iron triathlon sits above a marathon, where does an ultra sit in relation to an iron tri?
It depends how hard you race them
What difference does bodyweight have on your speed?
One of the biggest things an old coach would repeat over and over – if you want to go faster, lose the weight
What keeps you going?
if I was in the middle of the pack I doubt I would continue, its the fact that im breaking world records at 57 that keeps me going
What top tips do you have for first timers?
It’s a cliché, but understand that completing an Ironman is not impossible
When we haven’t done something we are scared of it – it depends how much you want it and the only reason why it wouldn’t be possible is because you don’t want it enough
Ask yourself what you want to get out of the race, The difference between compete and complete is that there is one L of a difference!
The last 3rd of any race is always the toughest
People think they cant run fast but they can!
So much of it at this level is the play off between the mental and the physical
Pain tolerance – get used to hurting
Track running will help your speed no end
Fell running was some of the best training I ever did
Strong legs are very important
If you’re first starting out to swim, learn to bilateral breathe from the start
The race is never easy if you want a good result
You have got to learn how to hurt
The course makes a massive difference to your time
Nutrition and hydration – start early on in the race and stick to your plan like glue
You don’t realise how much you sweat during the swim, take a few seconds to top up your fluid before the bike
Practice nutrition in your training
People know they should do a mix of long slow runs, speed work and hills but what happens is people just merge the 3 so become expert plodders
Combat blisters by washing your feet in turpse 2 weeks before a race and vassaline the essential areas on race day!
Your race performace is not decided by how you react as you are gliding along on the bike, your race performance is decided by how you react when the pain comes because it will come, but its how you deal with it that makes all the difference
Everyone is looking for the magic pill….
There is no magic pill – you have to get out there and train!
People spend way too much time theorising aboiut it -just get out there!
What do you know now that you wish you knew before your 1st ironman?
You can push the bike and it doesn’t affect the run
I am surprised you say that, everybody else has said the opposite!
In fairness, I am naturaly a runner, Your physical build does make a big difference and It helps no end that the run element is one of my strengths!
What is next for you then Dave?
Well my Personal training keeps me busy and I enter lots of races with my clients (Dave trains people and then often actually does the race with them!) but I feel another Deca coming on,
At 57, Dave told me that his 10k PB will probably go to the grave with him.
I asked if his sub 9 hour Ironman PB would do likewise.
‘Not neccesarrily’ he replied with a twinkle in his eye.
‘Deca Dave’ is without doubt one of the most amazing people I have ever met on my journey.
Already I find myself thinking about him as I struggle up Hunters Hill (It’s only a ‘single’ Iron Rookie – what’s the matter with you lad?)
I will remember him for many things, but probably the biggest one of all was when he shared this phrase…..
“The difference between Complete and Compete is that there is one ‘L’ of a difference!”
You can discover more about Dave and his tailored Personal Training at www.daveclamp.com
To your amazing journey!
By the way, I have written a book, it’s all about how I went from zero fitness to completing an Ironman triathlon, it’s only just come out but it has got some fantastic reviews already!- you can check them out here: (also available on Amazon in the US but please read the UK reviews first!)
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