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A few weeks ago, Jonas Deichmann was running in the middle of the Baja California desert when a passing van suddenly slammed on its brakes and pulled over on the side of the road. Deichmann, who was running alone, instantly became nervous. What was happening? What kind of people were about to emerge from behind the van’s sliding door?
“And then,” Deichmann smiles, “a group of Mariachis jumped out and played for me.”
A spontaneous mid-run concert from a Mariachi band would be unique for most people, but it’s par for the course for Deichmann, who is midway through the run leg of an around-the-world triathlon that began in Munich almost a year ago—on Sept. 26, 2020. When we first checked in with Deichmann, his plan was to finish in August of 2021. That timeline has now been pushed back to November. His route has changed as well, multiple times, mostly due to red tape.
“I changed my running route from the U.S. to Mexico, since I currently can’t enter the United States,” Deichmann said. “I had been to Iran and Sudan on my last cycling world record, and need to personally visit the U.S. embassy in Germany for “Security Clearance” before I can go to the U.S. again.”
Luckily, Deichmann is an old pro at adaptability. Over the years, the ultra-endurance athlete has collected several impressive feathers for his cap, including a 23,000-kilometer, 98-day bike ride from the Arctic Ocean in Alaska to the Southern point of Argentina and a “big three” continental crossing by bike from Norway’s Cape North to Cape Town, South Africa in 72 days. His current endeavor, which he has titled Triathlon 360, is his most ambitious yet.
After cycling to Croatia from Munich, Deichmann swam 456 kilometers along the coast towards Dubrovnic. (Upon arriving on dry land, he remarked, “My short, successful swimming career ends here. I am happy to have managed this, but I will not do it again.”) There, he hopped back on the bike to cross Europe and Russia in winter, with a detour due to closed borders because of the COVID pandemic. From Russia’s east coast, his plans for boarding a sailing boat (in line with his goal of raising awareness for traveling with minimal a CO2 footprint) were thwarted by COVID as well; that, coupled with a quickly-expiring Russian visa, required Deichmann to book a last-minute flight across the Pacific Ocean to Baja California.
The logistics of an around-the-world adventure—during a pandemic, no less—add an extra layer of stress to Deichmann’s daily physical efforts. On average, he has moved for about seven hours per day; in his current run leg, he has covered 40 marathons in the past 40 days. Recovery and self-care are paramount, yet not always an option: “I was running through a narco-controlled territory [in Mexico] recently, and couldn’t find a sleeping spot for a long time. When it got dark, I knew this wasn’t good. But finally I climbed up a little hill and found an uncomfortable place for my tent.”
Still, Deichmann wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been an adventure of a lifetime. When asked what he most looks forward to when he finishes his self-propelled lap around the globe, he says he can’t wait to tell his friends and family about everything he’s experienced.
“I haven’t seen them for a year,” Deichmann said. “And a lot has happened in that time.”
To follow Jonas Deichmann’s progress in his Triathlon 360 Degree challenge, visit his website, which has both live tracking and weekly written journal entries.