John of All Trades

Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
November, 2019
Article Body: 

Plainville’s John Berdos entered King Philip High School in the fall of 2011, where he ran cross country and track all four years for the Warriors. Following his graduation from KP he continued his education at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where he participated in the 400-meter hurdles for the track team during his first three years. Now he’s an assistant cross country and track coach at King Philip.
Berdos has always considered himself best suited for the decathlon and heptathlon. While at UMass-Lowell, he came across the icosathlon (also called the double decathlon), a two-day, 20-event competition held annually in Elaintarha Helsinki, Finland. Berdos immediately realized that this was something that he wanted to do.
“I was a decent runner in high school and college, so when I first heard about the competition during my freshman year at UMass I put it on my bucket list of things to do,” he said. “After I was released following my junior year at college I decided that it would be a good time to sign up for the event the following August.”
Berdos began working toward taking part in the multi-event competition despite the three-year layoff since he last participated in a field event at King Philip. To get back into a routine that would involve all 20 events, during his senior year of college he declared himself unattached and took part in competitions throughout the area. He even entered a heptathlon at Wheaton College where he did quite well. All of these competitions allowed him to get his feet back underneath him while preparing for the icosathlon in Finland the following year.
The icosathlon consists of 12 running events and another 8 field events. Berdos considers himself not only a good runner but also better than average in the field events. One field event he had never attempted was the hammer throw, so he had to learn the event before traveling abroad.
In the icosathlon Berdos finished in second place with 9833 points, behind Germany’s Florian Herr who was able to rack up 10,101 points to grab first place. Although a solid performance, the Wrentham native was hoping to do a little better.
“The competition was good and I met a lot of people over there. Finishing second was good, but looking back on it I could have done better here and there,” Berdos said. “Overall I was very happy with my performance. I was hoping to score north of 10,000 points, but finished just short of that due to little things.”
The 28th annual multi-event competition took place this past August 24-25. Berdos flew out the Wednesday night prior to the weekend event and arrived in Finland around 2 on Thursday afternoon. He used the next day and a half to acclimate himself to his new surroundings before taking part in the all-day events on Saturday and Sunday.
“The seven hour time changed really messed with me,” he said. “You’d have an early breakfast and then halfway through the competition (around 2 or 3) you’d have lunch and then dinner about 9 or 10.”
Icosathlon participants arrived at the facility in the early morning hours and didn’t leave until almost midnight, making for a very long day of athletic competition. Although a well-trained athlete, Berdos found himself in some serious pain.
“After day one I was beat up and my body was feeling it, but I fought through it,” he said. “After my final event (10,000-meter) at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday evening I was OK for a few minutes but then my legs went limp.”
Berdos finished in the top four of every event except for a seventh place finish in the hammer throw. He took first place in the high jump and second in the pole vault, long jump, triple jump, 100-meter, 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and the 3,000-meter steeple chase. He grabbed third place finishes in the 400-meter, 800-meter, 10,000-meter, 110-meter hurdles, 200-meter hurdles, shot put, discus throw and javelin while capturing fourth in the 400-meter hurdles and the 200-meter.
“I was satisfied, I accomplished what I had set out to do,” Berdos said. “The 14 months of training were well worth it. By competing in this I was able to close the book officially on the sport.”
With the icosathlon completed, Berdos will now concentrate on being a coach for the King Philip cross country and track teams.