Therapist for the Decaman

By Charon Collier-Perez

When I was first asked to travel to Zurich, Switzerland for the Decaman by Shangrila as her
personal sports massage therapist I was honored. I knew that a Decaman race would be a
difficult race. I knew that this would not be your warm comfy, cozy dim lit massage therapy
room. This was an outdoor race, this would last hours, which would lead to long days and


Honestly, I can say there was nothing that I can think of that would have prepared me for the
challenges we faced during the Decaman. It went from extremely hot days to at times cold and
rainy. I was constantly being bit by bugs. I basically had to get comfortable with massaging in
the uncomfortable. My mind set swiftly changed from being a massage therapist for an athlete in
the race to me being a partner in the race. I wanted this Decaman win as bad a she did!
As I witnessed her get up every morning to start each race, I could see and feel the fight in her
eyes. I knew her body would give up well before her mind. Seeing this fight in her each day
gave me a feeling I would never forget. This feeling allowed me to forget about my own
discomforts of standing, stooping and bending all day, or getting very little sleep, sometimes 2-3
hour a night, being constantly bit by bugs, and freezing cold at times, none of this matter to me,
as I watched Shangrila. She helped me push myself professionally when I thought I couldn’t do
There were times when I felt as if I am all massaged out after being at a race 15-20 hours of the
day. While knowing in my mind at the end of the day’s race I still had that final massage to do!
The post event massage, the most important, the one that gets her ready for the next day’s
race. After a 15-20 hour day, I was always able to push through, stay up and provide massage
while everyone else was sleeping.
This became easy once I changed my mindset, seeing myself as a partner on this journey with
Shangrila. Watching her get up every morning and do her part. Pushing past the physical pains
coming from everywhere in her body, from external factors such as bee stings, bike accidents,
and unpredictable weather. Seeing her overcome this each day gave me no doubt that when it
was time for me to show up and do my part Id be there for her. Also, with me knowing that she
was hurting, something that we both understood. I knew as her partner it was my role to keep
her from becoming injured.
Earlier I said “nothing could have prepared me for the challenges of the Decaman”. Now in
retrospect, I believe nothing else but the Decaman could have prepared me to be challenged in
my sports massage career. This experience has changed me personally and professionally,
now every time I think I’m done, I ask myself, Can I push a bit more? Of course, I can, I’m not
done -there are people out there doing Decamans!

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