Project Horizon // Jonas Deichmann

Project Horizon // Jonas Deichmann

"Every day something new could happen that I have never seen before."

Project Horizon athlete Jonas Deichmann has circumnavigated the globe in Triathlon -- and turned ours upside down in the process. In 430 days he has completed the Ironman distance 120 times. In numbers, that means 450 kilometers of swimming, 21,000 kilometers of cycling and 5,060 kilometers of running. Here you can find his RYZON Favoriteswho accompanied him on the journey. We asked the extreme athlete and world record holder a few questions.

The motto of our Christmas campaign this year is: "The biggest achievements often remain unseen." What was such an achievement for you, an unobserved, challenging moment?

JD: The biggest achievement for me was to make the swim. The swim was by far the most difficult for me. So the cycling, even in Siberia, I felt like I was in my terrain and the running too. I can do that. But with the swim, I had no idea what I was doing. I just started swimming and already on day 1 I realized: this is so much harder than I expected. And then, arriving in Dubrovnik, that was the greatest achievement for me. 

And that's where you were actually alone the whole time, right?

JD: Swimming is incredibly hard, especially mentally, because it's monotonous -- nothing happens. So just looking at water and plastic waste for 6-7 hours a day is really difficult mentally. 

Have you really seen a lot of plastic waste in the sea? That is something we are also dealing with -- recycling and sustainability. The bike jerseythat you were riding in is also made of recycled material.

JD: Well, I wouldn't say it's more littered than other seas, or parts of Europe. But you see more plastic waste there than fish, sure. Also things like refrigerators, car tires and beer bottles and cans. It's incredible what you see at the bottom of the sea.

But the running, unlike the swimming, you can do that.

JD: Yeah, I really enjoyed that too. So my running career is not over yet. Cycling is my favorite discipline, and it will stay that way. But I'm also keen to do another big run somewhere. 

And why are you running? You were compared to Forrest Gump in Mexico. In the scene where the journalists are running next to him, he answers the question why he is running: "for no particular reason." So for no particular reason. What would be your answer to this question?

 JD: Actually exactly the same. When I woke up in the morning in my tent, I just felt like running a marathon every day. 

If motivation were that easy for everyone -- that would be nice. 

JD: It's those special experiences for me in the end. When cycling and running. It's really the little moments. The night camping in the desert of Baja California or when the mariachis come by. Encounters like that. So it's just the little moments, the things that you're not used to that you're surprised by, and that's what I draw on when things get tough. 

And do you think that you experience more of these small and special moments when running because you are travelling a little slower and can perceive them even more than when cycling? 

JD: The moments are different. When cycling, of course, you get many more impressions of the landscape because you are simply faster. But when you run, you come into much more contact with the country and the people. So it's just different. Both have advantages and disadvantages. You can summarize it like this: cycling gives you more impressions, but running is more intense.

Interesting. Were there such intense encounters while running, or also in general, encounters that made a lasting impression on you? Or encounters that you think were very special?

JD: Yes, of course La Coqueta stands out, the street dog. That was a very special encounter. She was so cool, she just walked 130 kilometers with me. And it changed everything for me. From the next day on, I was in the National News in Mexico -- and from then on, I was no longer alone. 

This encounter not only stays in your head, it has also changed your life.

JD: Yes, definitely. Since that day, I was really famous in Mexico. And the moment when it really became even more attention, when crowds came and I got the police escort, that was something very special. Something that you don't forget. Also, the policemen with their weapons, that people were walking with me, that is a unique experience. That changes you. But I also made a lot of friends on the trip, and I think I will be friends with these people for a very long time. 

That sounds all so beautiful. On the contrary, were there also moments when you felt lonely? You said in another interview that you don't feel lonely in nature. But how do you feel when you are alone in nature?

JD: I feel comfortable in nature when I'm alone. I actually felt loneliest there in Mexico, when there were the most people around. Everybody wants something from you at once. At the beginning there were about 20 runners. That was cool, everything was wonderful. But when there are 200-300 people running behind you and you have a huge reception with journalists, police, and everyone wants something from you. But you don't know any of them. Then you feel lonely. Because you are alone. 

I can understand that. Above all, it is probably difficult to find peace then.

JD: Yes. Sometimes I run 50 kilometers and I'm exhausted. And then I come into a village and there are 2,000 people waiting for me. They all want selfies and interviews and all I really want is to go to the hotel and eat something and sleep. That is difficult.

I think I would feel most lonely driving through the ice desert in Siberia.

JD: Oh, that was nice, in Siberia in the ice desert. 

What was the biggest motivation for you to go through with the project? In your talks, you talk about "candy bar to candy bar," breaking it down to individual goals. But what is going on in your head apart from that? What is your inner drive?

JD: So that's more the question of why am I doing this? And not so much on a small scale, how do I motivate myself anew every day? And the reason is ultimately, the experiences, the encounters. They are just so intense when you do this. And there are so many things I can still talk about in 30 years. It's not the record at the end. What remains at the end are the experiences and the memories. It's so much more intense when you do it this way. And that's exactly what motivates me. Even if I look out of the tent in the morning and it's a bit uncomfortable, I still know: hey, today could be a very special day. Every day, something new could happen that I've never seen before. 

What was the biggest surprise on your trip?

JD: Clearly, that was the hype in Mexico. I could never have imagined that. I would never have imagined that I would become a folk hero overnight. It was just absurd what all happened. In Mexico City, I was travelling with nine pick-ups and armoured vehicles and 11 motorbikes, which closed off the entire city motorway. These are things that make you suddenly think, am I in the wrong film?

And the biggest surprise in the sense of what scared you, what were you not prepared for?

JD: It was the crossings in the swim. I really had no idea about swimming and approached the whole thing with optimistic naivety. Somehow it works out. And a crossing like that is a hell of a long way. And it's a stupid feeling when you're swimming alone kilometers off the coast and there are currents and waves. It's unpleasant. But you can hardly prepare for that. When it gets dark in the sea, the thought arises, what could be underneath me now? 

You are very much alone with yourself on such a journey. You like to travel alone, but did you sometimes miss company?

JD: In principle, I like to travel alone. But when I'm swimming, for example, or in Russia, where no one speaks English, I'm always happy when there's someone there. People I know, people I can talk to, that's very nice after a month. I was also very much looking forward to it.

And you're already thinking about the next projects?

Yes, definitely. I'll tell you what I'm planning soon.

Back to the blog