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A chat with Jonas Deichman

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Adventurer and extreme athlete Jonas Deichmann, who set out from Munich in September 2020 to complete a 120-times Ironman around the world, has reached his destination in Munich after 430 days. It made national news in Germany and has featured on the GTN show – I was very excited to interview Jonas and chat to him about his time racing round the world. 

A chat with Jonas Deichman

Photo by Markus Weinberg

Deichmann cycled across the Alps to Karlobag on the Croatian coast. From there he swam 450 kilometres along the Adriatic coast and reached Dubrovnik after 54 days in the water. In the process, he set a new record for the longest swim distance without an escort boat. From Dubrovnik, Deichmann cycled via Ukraine to Russia and crossed the country in the icy Siberian winter. After 17,000 kilometres on the bike, he reached Vladivostok on the Russian Pacific coast on 17 May, from where he crossed to the Mexican Pacific coast. From Tijuana, he ran 120 marathons across Mexico, reaching the finish line in Cancun after 117 days and 5060 kilometres. With his Forrest Gump-style run, Deichmann became a media star in Mexico and encouraged thousands of runners and cyclists to accompany him part of the way. Deichmann covered the last 4,000-kilometre stage from Lisbon to Munich on his bicycle again. 

The first thing I asked Jonas was how his legs were feeling – as you do after someone has just completed a triathlon. He said they were “ok actually”. Jonas was in the middle of a “media marathon” when I caught up with him, once this is over he said the tiredness will hit. After this we got into some of the more interesting stuff about his round the world triathlon. 

 

What were the best and worst places for triathlon? 

Jonas said that “The Siberian plane was the worst, it was pan flat for 2000km with nothing but trucks and ice”. Jonas described the cold and snow of Siberia and it seemed awful – kind of like when you accidentally end up on an a-road while riding but for weeks on end. The best place was Baja California (a state in Northern Mexico) which Jonas described as “deserts, mountains and beeches”. This seems like the perfect place for a triathlon training camp. 

 

You did this for Oxfam to draw attention to climate change – what did you see on your journey which made you realise how big climate change actually was as a problem? What was the most obvious example?

Jonas said that, while he was swimming in the Adriatic Sea, he saw, “more plastic rubbish than fish – swimming a long distance in the sea makes you very sad”. This is a real shame which highlights the huge problem of plastic in the ocean. Ocean plastic killing marine life has deep climate implications as many ocean living plants are carbon sequesters. If you want to donate to support Jonas’ huge effort you can do so here

 

What was your worst day? 

Jonas described a situation which was the stuff of nightmares. At one point he was 3km off-shore, alone in the dark without a boat – I could not imagine anything worse and it’s an extremely dangerous situation! Jonas coming through this is testament to the survival skills needed to complete a challenge like this – let alone the necessary physical and mental faculties.

 

How much did you have to adapt your original plans due to the pandemic? 

“Quite often, biggest challenge was COVID.” Originally Jonas had planned a southern route and to run across US but ended up “cycling in Siberia in winter and running in Mexico in summer” – not the ideal route. Obviously there was always going to be an aspect of having to change plans when doing something like this but COVID threw a number of curveballs at Jonas. He, once again, overcame these challenges and did what was necessary to complete his “Triathlon 360 degree”. 

 

What is next on your list? 

When Jonas was asked what the next plan was you could tell that he was smiling underneath his mask! He said that his immediate plans involve, “Speaking and the book – it’s coming out in English and a film coming out too. 2023 brings a new big challenge – at least as challenging as global triathlon. No one has ever done it and it’s top secret”. I look forward to seeing what this top secret plan is! I can only assume it’s a triathlon to space now that he’s completed earth. 

If you want to find out more about Jonas, his trip and the reasons for it or the documentary and the book you can go to his website, here. This also contains a diary from Jonas’ challenge which is a fantastic read, just pick a day and there’s an incredible story! There are also a series of photos to look through from his trip which are fantastic! 

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