Is Arc’Teryx a Real Adventure Racing Team? Is Decker Swanson Based on an Actual Racer?

Simon Cellan Jones’ biographical film ‘Arthur the King’ centers on the adventure racer Michael Light’s friendship with Arthur, a stray dog that follows him during an Adventure Racing Championship event stretching across the Dominican Republic. However, while the story of the man who befriends the dog predominantly occupies our attention, the other half of this sports adventure drama relies on the engrossing competition between Michael’s Team Broadrail and the opposition, Team Arc’Teryx, led by adventure racer Decker Swanson. Even though Team Broadrail is based on a real racing team, that isn’t the case with their rival!

Arc’Teryx is a Made-up Racing Team

The Arc’Teryx team featured in ‘Arthur the King’ is fictional. First of all, there is a high-end design company named Arc’teryx, which is based in North Vancouver, British Columbia. However, the outdoor apparel and equipment line didn’t sponsor the title-winning team in the 2014 ARWS championship as the film depicts. The movie’s narrative sets them up as the uber-successful team that has won multiple championship events in the Adventure Racing World Series. Digging into the real account of ‘Arthur the King,’ which chronicles Mikael Lindnord’s experiences in the competition held in Ecuador, the winner of that event was Seagate, a team hailing from New Zealand. Lindnord didn’t even finish second — a 12th-place finish was the best the four-man crew with a dog could manage after their trials.

Arc’teryx is a clothing company that serves as an ambassador for athletes via sponsorships and promotions. The fictionalized version of their team serves a very specific purpose within the narrative. Given the heightened nature of the race and the stakes in a competitive world, the filmmaker molded the Arc’Teryx team to be an antagonistic force to keep the tension riveting. It’s a lot more engaging if Michael is up against a well-financed team that can easily overpower Team Broadrail’s underdog status.

Because ‘Arthur the King’ is a dramatized version of a real sporting event, a sphere where emotions run high anyway, the crux of the narrative, which is Michael’s loyalty towards Arthur, would not be questioned if he wasn’t competing against the unstoppable nature of Team Arc’Teryx. It’s because Arc’Teryx pushes him so hard that he is conflicted about what he wants more: to be content as a loser with no championship titles to his name or gain a friend in Arthur. This quandary keeps pushing the story throughout the film’s runtime and makes for a much more engaging watch.

Decker Swanson Doesn’t Exist in Reality

The leader of Team Arc’Teryx, Decker Swanson, is a fictional character. The real story of Mikael Lindnord is a story lacking in the drama and heightened stakes set up in the film. Therefore, a bully being placed as an antagonistic figure helps the story engage as we want to watch Michael knock him off his perch. Decker’s appearances within the film are of a recurring nature, appearing for small moments to goad Michael and his team. It’s understandable that Decker’s repeated success at the ARWS competition with his team has led him to grow an inflated ego and image of himself.

But while the film places him in direct opposition to Michael, Decker actually goes through an evolution of his own as he watches Michael’s bond with Arthur grow over the course of the race. Decker is shown to have a past with one of Michael’s teammates, Chik. After being diagnosed with a failing knee, Chik, who was part of Decker’s Arc’Teryx team, is let go. This establishes a grudge between the pair and becomes a driving force for Chik to prove Decker wrong by winning the race with Michael. But while Decker may seem like the quintessential bully and bad guy, he does show signs of redeeming himself as the final parts of the film pass by.

Realizing that he won the competition because Michael turned around to save Arthur in the kayaking round, Decker actually professes to Michael that he should have won the competition. He even shows recognition for Michael when he applauds him at the airport as Arthur is allowed to go back with him to the US. The scene proves that even egotistical athletes like Decker Swanson have room to grow and redeem themselves.

Read More: Arthur the King: Is High Springs a Real Place in Colorado?