Borg Cardona & Co. Ltd last week announced they are supporting Fabio Spiteri on his latest challenge – to complete the Deca: 10 Ironman distances over 10 successive days, one a day – and in the process raise €100,000 for animal sanctuaries and cat feeders.
Nigel Borg Cardona, Director of Borg Cardona & Co., said they immediately accepted the invitation from Fabio to be part of his adventure. “We are going to do our best to ensure that all the funds raised will be spent on food and medicines that these animals need, lessening the burden on the sanctuaries and feeders,” he said.
The Deca is being held in Burioz, some 150 km away from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, in May 2023. Athletes from Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Poland and Switzerland are also taking part in this ultra event. It consists of a 38-km swim (the distance between Cirkewwa and Marsaxlokk), a 1,800-km cycle (twice round Sicily) and a 421-km run (10 marathons) spread over 10 days.
As Fabio explained: “You don’t simply click your fingers and do a Deca. This is a long process. I have been active in sport for 26 years and have been taking part in ultra events since 2017. You have to go step by step.”
The progression for Fabio has taken him from Ironman to triple Ironman to the quintuple (five Ironman distances) – the first and only Maltese to achieve this feat – which he successfully completed in France last year. “From a quintuple you go straight to a Deca – there is no intermediate step. Globally, 96 male athletes have completed a Deca. Hopefully I will be there with the top 100,” he said.
Fabio, who will be 49 when he takes part in the Deca, is anticipating that the problems, if any, will occur after the fifth day. “It is hard to anticipate what sort of timing I will achieve. I will start each day at 7 a.m. having completed the previous day’s ironman (otherwise I will be disqualified).
“I first have to swim 3.8 km in a man-made lake. I will be wearing a wetsuit since the water temperature will be around 18°C-19°C and I don’t want to lose body temperature and get cold. I then have to cycle 180 km on a 10-km loop on a road similar to the Coast Road but surrounded by trees with parrots flying everywhere.
“The final leg is a full marathon – 42.2 km – along a 5-km route similar to the Coast Road in an air temperature of around 25°C-26°C, which is ideal for me. I will have a support crew with me, consisting of my son Aiden and a masseur, Philip Cachia. The idea is to stop every three to four hours for 15 minutes for a quick massage.”
Aiden’s task will be to cook for his father and to clean his bike when he finishes his ride, greasing the chain and keeping it well serviced. Fabio is looking for a third volunteer to accompany him because the team’s third task, which is just as vital, is to act as motivators – “there may be times when my mind will not quite function properly and I will need motivators to keep me going”.
Fabio intends to travel to Brazil five days before the race to allow enough time to beat the jetlag and to give his body time to acclimatise with the local food. “If you have a menu of 20 items, you end up eating three or four things. You are taking in fluids all the time. I am going to work hard at taking noodles as carbs. I will take protein if the body accepts it.
“There are times in extreme events, when you will be under stress, that the stomach closes and you have nutritional problems. Then we fall back on superfoods. A shake with 500 calories that is the equivalent of one meal.”
With the Deca being six months away, Fabio is not training aggressively yet – ‘only’ 20 hours a week. Between January and March, it will become his full-time job, ramping up his swim, bike, runs to 35 to 40 hours a week of slow to medium intensity, although he will cover 250 km in one go on his bike. He has shifted his work to the evenings, leaving the morning and afternoon to training.
Then, 45 days before the event, he will undertake his longest training session: 10 half Ironman distances – half of what he wants to complete – one per day, so that if he has over-trained he has time to taper his training and get himself in the best shape he can for the challenge.
Fabio is confident he can build on the experience gained in taking part in previous ultra events to finish the Deca. “I learned to numb the pain and can isolate it,” he said. This includes sore skin, numb fingers and even swollen feet from water retention. “I have a strategy to address them.”
What will motivate him further is his mission to raise funds for animal sanctuaries and cat feeders. These are to be distributed via the Real Animal Rights (RAR) Foundation, a registered charity.
Throughout its near-75-year history, Borg Cardona & Co has been driven by a passion derived from a love of animals. The company has been assisting associations and individuals linked to animal welfare for a number of years.
“We have always believed that, if we have derived our success from selling products for animals, it is our duty to pay back part of our profits to these associations and individuals,” Mr Borg Cardona said.
He wished Fabio every success, both in his participation in the Deca and in his efforts to raise funds for animals in need.