LEO180 2017

Ok – a few more words about the last weekend. Everything started with watching dots on the live tracking page of the LEO180 2016, a short question via FB, a short registration form, some thoughts and then there is that moment when you are knocking on Maartens door. There were a lot of people already there –  all of them never seen before. And it takes only a few minutes for you to feel at home. Jokes, race experiences, pasta plus a “funny” one hour watching and laughing about Yiannis – a nice evening. After a short night with interrupted sleep it is already 0600 Saturday morning, and nine runners are standing at a random street in the NL – packed and ready.

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From that time on everything was as it should be: Pfadsucher and VPsucher together on their way through a truely beautiful track covering a best of of the middle of nowhere parts in the heart of the NL. Nice selection. We both felt strong and had a really good pace at the first 87 km towards the only real aid. By the way – thanks for all the spots in between where we could meet and greet various selections of organizators/supporters. We had an almost daylight finish on the 87 km aid station – perfect in plan and not bad placed in the whole field.

 

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The next part of the race between km 93 and 118 is a really tough one but we made it quite ok. Everyone who have been out there knows – you just have to find a solution for this part and make sure to forget everything as soon as possible after you left this part.

Beyond that part the race, the running and everything was again really difficult for me. There were some few things adding up, but the real problem was the mind. As always. Lets make it a short story: at km 130 I decided to quit for what felt there to be countless of reasons. It was a horrible decision. Even more horrible to walk the next 9k of the race with a speed that would allow a finish. There was enough time, the usual problems were not too severe, the sun was about to say hello in 3 hours. You are asked if you really want to quit, you are asked if it is ok for you if the VPsucher continues… Sure, it is ok. And yes it is still good to be around, to watch what is not longer your race, to see them running again, to welcome most of them at the finish line. All of that is ok. But it is also tough. See them doing what should be your job. This will keep me thinking for quite a while.

At the end we had a really nice weekend. Thanks for all the fun, the support, the nice conversations, the place to sleep plus all your spirit and thoughts about ultra running.  And thanks for the invitation for next years LEO180! I will think about it. At the moment the probability of me returning is not too high – but this might change. So long – stay strong and running: Yiannis is watching you!

The list of the 5 heroes finishing the LEO180 2017 can be found here.

 

LEO180 2017 – ***LIVE***

Live-Tracking: http://leo190.legendstracking.com/

Time to accept, time to adapt, time to slow down. 191 km – most of it in the middle of nowhere. 10 runners, 1 aid station. It will be unique and almost impossible.

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

LOTR

For updates, fotos, etc. – check the FB-page: https://www.facebook.com/LEO180mm/

Face to face with LEO

The whole life is determined by the decisions one is making every day.

For example I could have decided long ago to go for a skateboard carreer. The upcoming event LEO180 could then just be one of those fancy moves everyone likes to watch in slow motion on youtube. I can perfeclty envision the setting: the sinking sun flooding the half-pipe with a golden brilliance, a 180 degree turn of the board, captured as a 4k video to share with the community… Seconds of pure perfection.

But I didn´t make that decision. If you would like to capture the real LEO180 you would need a lot of gigabyte storage on your camera, more then 30 hours of time, dozens of powerbanks and the outcome would be horrifying. Hours of pure nothingness, lonelines and meaningles suffering. And even slow motion would not help. Played with reduced speed, the rare movements would seem to stop. Together with the time. Hours of insanity.

Nevertheless it is time to get ready; to prepare for all the worst cases. There are a lot of unusual things to prepare and to take care of this time. First there is something strange with name of the race: LEO180. In all races I´ve been doing so far – a number in the race title was related to a either a distance or a time: STUNT100 (100 miles), TTdR100 (100 miles), 24h of ……… (fill in any location) and so on. But now: LEO180. We were told that the distance will be 191,31 km. I alway though the Netherelands agreed on the SI units but, well, at least we know it early enough. This really asks for the introduction of the new unit “Dutch Kilometer” aka DuKi. 1 DuKi equals 1,06283333 SI kilometer. How handy. Reprogramming the Garmin right now :).

There are some more seriouy steps in LEO180 race preparation: checking opening times of gas stations, supermarkets etc. along the way; staring hours on the GPS-track to get a feeling for the different sections of the route; planning and preparing food, equipment and drop-back stuff – in short: race time again. A race with only two finishers in last years first edition.

One of the race director posted the documentary about Yiannis Kouros “Forever Running” on FB. Probably to race our moral :). It is normally a nice thing to watch running videos to get into race mood. But videos about Yiannis? He is unique in history, his achievements and successes will most probably never be beaten by any runner. He is the one telling us that real ultra running starts beyond 24 hours of constant running (which meant for him 240 km on bad days and 300 km on the good ones), he is the one who beat a field of world class ultra runners although race directors let him start one hour behind everyone of them, he is the one winning the Spartathlon in 4 consecutive years with none of thoses times being beaten since then, he is the one with more than 150 world records in ultra running. He is so unhuman in his performance and in his way he interpreted running that it is impossible to take any of his advices or to make use of any of his techniques during your own runs. At the very end of this documentary he finally says something I can fully understand and agree with. Because whatever your capabilities are – at the end of a very long race in which you invested everything of your physical and mental power it is true that:

“The tragedy in our sport is that we can not celebrate our victory when the race is up. In all other sports, when the race is finished, they go to celebrate and rejoice – in our case we can not do anything. The day after the race, you feel like death itself …”

Maybe he is human in that moments.

Thanks Maarten for reminding us of what is impossible 🙂 – haven´t watched that documentary in the last month. Personally I´m really looking forward for the LEO180 challenge. Taking the last weeks into account, I don´t believe that a finish is really possible and likely for me. But you never know. However – I am really looking forward to get to know a bunch of new people, and hopefully a lot of joyful hours with the VPsucher out there!

While thinking about running long distances the picture book “Frederick” by the Italian writer Leo Lionni comes to my mind. It is about the mouse Frederick and his friends preparing for the long and cold winter. While his friends are busy trying to collect enough food for the long winter, Frederick seems to be of no help at all – telling them he is collecting sunbeams, colors and words. The first time of the winter the mice are happy with all the food and laughing the hard times away. At the middle of the winter however, the food is empty and everyone is getting hungry, angry and sad. It is Fredericks time now. He stands up telling them stories about the warmth of the sun, the colors of the spring and happy stories about the beauty of life and the seasons. All of his friends are happy again, forgetting about all of their troubles.

Although we normally plan our food supply better then these mice – during this long hours in a race the time comes when different things are of higher importance then food and water in terms of not giving up. Do not be afraid when you see us laughing about stupid jokes, singing in the middle of the night, dancing in the middle of the nowhere – we are doing really well in these moments. Collecting stories, jokes and songs for these long hours is definitely an important part of race preparation of the VPsucher/Pfadsucher team.

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