Written by Brian New
Dave has become a good friend of mine over the last couple of years and has been a constant training partner, and a great support, since my brother Howard‘s death last year. We caught up a couple of days ago and had an Indian and a couple of beers. I asked Dave if he minded answering a few questions for the readers of EnduranceUK.com, and as I was paying, how could he possibly refuse! Enjoy!
EUK: Dave we’ll start with the easy ones! How old are you?
EUK: And what do you do for a living?
Dave: I am a Personal Trainer at a hotel gym in Frodsham, Cheshire. Previousl,y I was a teacher for over 20 years – teaching French and German, English and Personal Social Education mostly in the UK , but also in New Zealand, France and Germany.
EUK: Can you summarise your sporting background.
Dave: Ran over 100 marathons (PB 2.35), about 40 IM (PB 8.59), Double IM, 10 x Triple IM, Deca IM 2008.
EUK: Lazy sod! So tell me – after completing the Deca in 2008, and the injury you sustained in the race. Why have you decided to enter the Deca again? Was 2008 not enough of an achievement?
Dave: Definitely not. I only completed the distance last time, I didn’t RACE it. Having taken the lead after 5 marathons and then getting injured, I sat around for 2 days unable to walk and we then decided I may as well finish, so I basically limped the last 5 marathons and it took over 12 days in total. So it’s definitely a case of unfinished business.
EUK: How has your training gone for the race this time?
Dave: A touch erratic but I feel good with 6 days to go. It’s very important to be healthy on the start line rather than overtrained. You got me getting out on some longer runs, so I’m happy with what’s in the bank there. Illness has robbed me of a good final push, but I’m treating it as a blessing in disguise.
EUK: So how has your training been different from last time you did the race?
Dave: Definitely done a lot more long runs. I have run three times further than in 2008 with quite a few 30, 40, 50 milers and did the Triple in July and 135 miles in Europe 135 supporting my great pal, Alex Flynn. Bike and swim have probably not been what they should have been in an ideal situation, but I’ll see the positive in that of being well rested !!!
EUK: How does the Deca differ from other Ultra triathlons that you have done over the years?
Dave: I said I’d never do a Triple (and I’ve done 10 of them!) – and said I’d definitely never do a Deca. I like the Deca as you go a touch slower and can therefore take the time to eat real food rather than energy bars, etc. In Doubles and Triples my stomach is always my weak area – as I go too fast and therefore not enough blood gets to the stomach, so the food doesn’t get digested and eventually it exits the body by the same route that it entered!!
EUK: Obviously a race like this is hard enough – who is in your support “team” and what do you expect from them?
Dave: The mighty John Saunders is my support man. He’s got a tougher job than me – photographer, journalist, cook, motivator, and the bit he’s looking forward to most – tending to my blisters and battered feet. He will do a great job. He was support man for me and Alex on the Europe 135 and did a fantastic job. The three of us formed a really special bond that week. I just want John to not allow me to give up.
EUK: Racing abroad doing an Ironman is tough enough taking kit, etc – doing the Deca must be a massive challenge in this area. How do you handle it?
Dave: That’s tough – I try not to think about it. Panic this week as my bike was in for service and the stem at the top of front forks was found to be fractured. There’s seriously so much to consider for 200 hours racing !!! The temperature varies wildly – thick gloves and skull cap and still froze last time at night and then scorching temperatures by day. Makes it interesting.
EUK: Training for a race like the Deca must take so much of your time. How many hours a week on average have you been training? What has been the breakdown across each discipline?
Dave: I’m lucky in that I’m a PT, so spend a fair bit of time trotting about with clients. There’s no typical week for me , but sometimes it’s over 30 hours training, sometimes about 6 !!!
EUK: Do you do any supplementary training (yoga, pilates, stretching, etc)?
Dave: Quai ? Non comprendo !!! Seriously, I’m getting better, especially as I stretch along with my clients in most sessions, but my hamstrings still get described as ‘shocking’ by work colleagues. I’m putting emphasis on the mental aspect of things too, with fantastic guidance in this area from Tricia Lloyd of Altrincham Counselling Centre . I’ve been working with her on aspects of visualisation and mental control. In fact, I would describe the work that we’ve been doing in this area as crucial to the improved performance we are hoping for. The importance of the mental side of things in a deca can’t be underestimated. I think I’ll be able to confirm the benefit of this after the race.
EUK: Do you train with a heart monitor?
Dave: Sometimes, but I’ve got to know my body so well that I usually know my heart rate without even looking at the monitor, but it’s a really useful tool for early warning signs of ill health.
EUK: How about the race itself? Do you use a monitor?
Dave: No – I go on ‘feel’.
EUK: What sort of diet do you eat in the month leading upto a race like the Deca? What are your priorities?
Dave: Don’t ask !!! Seriously, no real changes from normal. I just like to keep thingsas ‘balanced’ as possible. The biggest problem is my irregular hours of work and that I’ve been living alone for the last few months and sometimes lack the motivation to cook a decent meal just for myself.
EUK: What sort of foods do you eat whilst you are doing the Deca? Gels, solids, hydration, electrolytes, etc?
I have very kind sponsorship from High 5 and especially during the swim , I will use their 4:1 and 2:1 drinks and gels , plus bananas. During the bike I will stop every 6 hours for a cooked meal, typically rice/chicken followed by pancakes (see Races blog of 2008 for more graphic descriptions — it’s all become a blur for me!)
EUK: What is your approach to the race? Go as far as you can until you need a break – or do you break it down into chunks of time, etc and stop on plan?
Dave: That’s a secret !!!!!!!!!!!!!! If all goes well, we start at Sunday 9am then hopefully I will be out cycling before midnight and then I hope to cycle through the night and the next day, before stopping at midnight for a 4 hour sleep. Then to bike 20 hours a day, sleep 4 hours for as long as I can sustain it. But in a Deca , lots can happen and plans /race goals can alter as the race progresses. Myself and John will set targets on a day by day basis.
EUK: I remember when we were doing the Double IM UK in 2008 that you told me you had done the Triple in Lensahn the week before – that was about 3 months before you went and comppleted the Deca. What races have you done this year in preparation for the race in a weeks time?
Dave: First up was GUCR in May. As you know I was in the lead for several hours (EUK note – So I was told from a long way behind!) but didn’t realise until a few days later that I had a virus. I had basically degenerated to a stagger by the the time I abandoned at 56 miles. Then the Triple IM in July, where I finished 11th in the world Championships. I was really disappointed with my performance and only reached the finish line after a severe rolllocking from my daughter Harriet. At the end of August I ran the Europe 135 with Alex. That was great preparation for me. I’ve also done a few half marathons – 1.19 at Wilmslow in March, being the best.
EUK: What is your goal outcome for the race? What will success look like?
Dave: We’ve promoted it to potential sponsors as a world record attempt , so that says it all I think. Of course as I’ve said, that could change as the race progresses.
EUK: Who do you see as the biggest challengers in this race? What do you know about them?
Dave: I’m disappointed that Manu Conraux and Matej Markovic have pulled out. Manu has been a great rival and friend over many years since we finished first and second at the Dutch Double in 1999. Andreas Buscher and Wayne kurtz were 1st and 2nd in the Quintuple 2 years ago, so they are potential challengers and Christian Mauduit finished in front of me at the Triple. Bu you have to concentrate on your own race and there are bound to be some surprise newcomers who will do well.
EUK: Describe your perfect race and outcome (time)?
Dave: That’s on the secret piece of paper in by bedroom — my son Sam has seen it and just laughed !!
EUK: You told me the other night that you had started to look at visualisation to help in your race prep, etc. What is the thinking behind this and how is it helping?
Dave: It’s massive. Tricia Lloyd and Joanna Sayers have both had a huge impact on my thinking. I’m absolutely indebted to them both and also to the unwavering belief that Alex Flynn has in me. He is an inspirational man and the way he conducts himself with his Parkinson’s disease is quite astonishing. His drive, determination and belief are a real influence on me.
EUK: When I was a lot younger your name was well known in the North West as a bit of a ‘legend’ and here you are many years later still competing at the highest level in Ultra tri. What is it that keeps you getting out there and competing?
Dave: Tough question – I think it’s the fact that I still believe I can compete at the sharp end and that there is still untapped potential there. The events in my life in the last year have been very challenging and the Deca target has been a great mental diversion. I’m not sure what the future will bring.
EUK: How much longer can you see yourself doing this?
Dave: Again – I don’t think I would do the races for the fun of completion. Once I know that my days of challenging to win are over, then I think it will change. and my personal life will be a massive factor too.
EUK: You have two great grown up children. What do they think of their Dad doing this? Do they get involved and support what you do?
Dave: They are simply magnificent and I don’t think you will ever meet a prouder dad. They have been my support crew at almost every race I have ever done. sam is great at analysing the race situation and providing suitable motivation to get back on my bike . His final resort is usually “Come on you big girl !” As I said before , I wouldn’t have finished the triple this year but for Harriet. Neither can be there this time , but I will feel their support every inch of the way and I know I will receive regular encouraging texts and emails from them.
EUK: What advice would you give to somebody looking at doing say a Triple or Deca triathlon for the first time? What are the key things to get right?
Dave: Attention to detail!!!! Little things like several different sized trainers for when your feet swell. And don’t race – it’s vital to stick to your own pace. I started racing a Mexican guy 4 marathons into the race last time – absolutely brainless! And practise nutrition over and over in training.
EUK: Since you did the race a couple of years ago you have had a few personal issues to deal with. How has this affected your preparation and drive/ambition?
Dave: It’s one of the toughest challenges I have faced to get to the starting line. It was a real shared team effort last time - you only have to read the race diary from last time to realise that. To go it alone has been very hard and I wasn’t in a good place earlier in the year. Having given up teaching , I was on a far lower income and suddenly found myself with no home suitable for my place of work. With the help of various people, I slowly but surely removed the negative outlook and adopted a positive, determined approach. There’s nothing we can do about the past. It’s gone. But we can affect the future and how we react to events. I believe that positivity and energy will eventually be reflected back into your life. After many months of doubting this, the last 2 months or so have been incredible. Several wonderful people have come into my life and their influence has been profound.
EUK: Many people have supported and helped you to get to Mexico. Who are the people who have helped support you to allow you to do this race this year?
Dave: Well here goes, where do I start?
- Orca – fantastic wetsuit and kit.
- Highfive nutrition products.
- Bolton Tri Club – who have always supported me so well and it’s an honour to race for them.
- Zoggs goggles.
- 220 magazine, who have enabled me to utilise the support of John Saunders.
- My client Simon Edwards and his company, Krogab, who have sponsored me in exchange for a post race presentation/talk in December.
- You and your department at work (Cooperative Financial Services, Life & Savings Dept) for the same.
- Ivan Davies for his great help with the flights. Ivan began with me me as a client, but has become a real , encouraging friend , as have Helen McGuire and Hazel Kimber.
- My client Emma Long who was the person who ‘bullied’ me into entering when I needed that push and gave me food when I couldn’t be bothered cooking.
- Gordon Johnston, a client and great friend , who I have spent many hours with , discussing the ways of the world (and his terrible golf).
- My parents , who gave me excellent support earlier this year when I had a catalogue of bad luck.
- Clare and Steve O’Connor, who have shown me great kindness, support and friendship.
- Davy Williamson, who gave me a home when I was at my most desperate ( I won’t forget that Davy) and has shown me real kindness (and too many nightclubs).
- Nikki Barwell, who sent me in Tricia LLoyd’s direction (thanks Nikki).
- Louise Edmunds for many encouraging and wonderful talks whilst training.
- Margo and john for continued support, kindness and cucumbers. Jane and Nick for continued kindness, support and cake.
- My work colleagues for supporting me and covering my absence.
- Joanna Sayers for the awesome website and even more awesome conversations.
- Sally, for encouraging me to change my career, who first encouraged me to do the Deca last time and was the most special support. A tough act to follow John boy !
- Tricia, Alex , John as mentioned above.
- But above all my 2 most special people Sam and Harriet.
- And lastly, Louise Neville, a courageous and lovely lady —- I can’t say why here, but Louise , I’ll be thinking of you all the way and will wear your Stragglers hat with pride in the cold night time running sections.
EUK: Dave, is there anything else that you would like to say to finish?
Dave: Let’s do it !!
EUK: Dave, I’d like to say Thanks for taking the time to open up and being so candid and honest. You don’t need me to tell you how much people in the UK want you to do well. I personally have seen the hard work and the trials and tribulations you have had this year so I wish you the very best of British out there in Mexico.
I know that it is your mums 80th birthday the weekend after the Deca – and here’s hoping you can bring her back a World Record as a nice surprise.
Safe journey and Best of Luck from all at EnduranceUK.com
(If you would like to leave a message for Dave or discuss the race – go to the forum thread Dave Clamp’s Deca!) *
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