Tiles

Imagine a world divided into small pieces. A world covered by a net of squares. Each time you record a running activity with GPS data and upload this activity your freshly conquered tiles switch color and are added to your collection.

This is the principle behind calculations like Statshunter (needs a Strava account with your activites to calculate the heatmap and stats) or the Tiles Counter accessible in Runalyze as beta feature under premium subscription.

What an amazing idea for everyone interested in exploring new areas, for everyone who wants to make sure a specific area is „really“ covered. Soon new tracks for running are created with the intention to collect new tiles – to extend the explored area – to wipe out the grey spots on the map. It made us run in areas we would never have visited without these tools – it made us to enter the most unlikely and most remote areas.

Funny enough the tiles at Runalyze (1,2 x 0,6 km) and Statshuter (1 x 1 mi) have different sizes so the heatmaps look different:

All-in-all a great way to view and analyze your Strava/Runalyze database. Have fun exploring!

The Ferry

Velsen Zuid – Velsen Noord

It was one of those moments.

120k in our Duinhopper adventure back in October 2021 sitting in the dry car gazing into the pouring rain hammering on the car. After a not completely comfortable and relaxing 30 min sleep the task ahead seemed unbearable. Leaving the shelter of the car to continue into a clearly rainy and stormy second night to fight for another 100k to the finish in Den Helder seems like the last thing we should do. Nonsense and useless. We were at the only safe place along our adventure – a safe place that could easily bring us home – could bring us far away from that misery.

Although we tried to pack everything before the nap there was quite a lot of things to do. Packing, unpacking, packing and unpacking again… Horrible plan with two people in a narrow car. We tried not to forget anything while wiggling into new layers of cloths which would get soaked quite fast in that weather anyways. Our mood was reaching below-zero-levels.

The first kms out there again were hilarious. The rain reduced the headlamp light to almost nothing, the surfaces of the various GPS devices hard to read with almost no eyesight. After 3 km we reach Ijmuiden haven where we were supposed to use the ferry. How bizarre. When we approached the dock the ferry was about to leave. We sprinted the last meter through the wind and somehow entered the boat at the last second.

And then the time stopped. The other guests stared at us as. Their views told us the we were looking like strangers from another planet. It is not exactly a long ferry transfer but the wind, the cold and the rain hit us and eliminated the last energy we had in us. Our bodies hardly warmed up from the 3 km stretch after the initial cold shock leaving the car merely minutes before. The whole world seemed like a dark and icy mess. Once at the other side we left the ferry shivering, destroyed and deadly tired from that freezing transfer. Miserable km followed that transfer. Barely able to move, too stiff to run and left with very little hope. It got so horrible that we tried to sleep once we passed the last buildings of Ijmuiden. We were so messed up that we did not manage to find a proper spot and layed down on the side of a big path wrapped in safety blankets. This was the least helpful and comfort sleep break ever. Somehow we continued. At that moment we had no clue that the whole night would be like that. That it simply would not get any better. That we had to fight more endless dark and rainy hours – that we would need to split because we could not synchronise moving speeds and the needs for instant breaks.

I don’t know what made us fighting through but the reward was waiting. With the upcoming daylight we got company and support, we found some hope, we gained some speed and at the very end of the upcoming day we would see the blasting sun again. And we would see Den Helder. This may not seem much but it meant the world to us.

Since this night the Dutch coast is forever linked to that horror.

Wolverine – Marvel Slam 2022 #2

Second track of the Marvel Slam 2022 done.

When opportunities arise one needs to step up and act. No matter what. With the ongoing and increasing heat wave which would dominate the weekend there was only one logical decision: start with a night so that two full nights would fall into the run and should ease up the heat pressure. Everything was packed and ready Friday evening after work – Wolverine was attacked around 2100 in the evening.

At the end it took me 41h39m to finish this 202 km track. Hard to describe what happened while running – the biggest concern was the water supply with these weather conditions. The backpack was heavier than usual because I always carried as much water as possible. With the help of cemeteries, school parking lots with water taps, shops, restaurants etc. everything worked out with regards to water.

The track is divided into three parts 95 rather normal km – a tough section between km 95 and km 170 with lots of funny climbing included – and an again less technical final section between km 170 and the end.

It was a unique experience as I was running alone and this time without any support and also without any chance of support in case needed. Completely remote except the virtual connection via social media. At the end everything went well. No bigger problems, no major mistakes and a huge relieve once it was done and the car was still there where I left it.

Marvel Slam – 50% done

Time to rest until the next Marvel track calls for action. Left are 160 km in Hautes Fagnes and the long trip along #noourthenoparty. Both tough – both overgrown at the moment. So its time to relax and wait until the upcoming fall eliminates the vegetation and clears the paths.

Bienwald Backyard Ultra 2022

Ok. I think I like the format. Although far away in terms of running capabilities (the experts tend to have a way higher basic running speed and are thus able to enjoy longer rest periods) and not quite fitting to my non-competitive mentality while running – backyard running has something appealing. With its unique rhythm, its simplicity and its strong structure it calms and slows down every stress and is able to create its own small universe. A universe where nothing else matters then to follow the flow and wait. Wait for something from which you at the beginning do not exactly know what it may. An interesting experience.

To wait is something I more and more value while running longer distances – something which is often described to be something bad or boring or is considered to be a waste of time. During long distance running to wait for me is the essential part – an underlying feeling which is able to compensate for short term exhaustion, or the usual ups and downs and good and bad moments. Something to find comfort in and to hold on to.

It was my first Bienwald Backyard Ultra and brought me into contact to a lot of new faces (as I only rarely run races in Germany) and it was really worth the drive-down. A huge shoutout to Michael, his family, friends and to the whole TSV Kandel team. Great place to race, amazing support, great checkpoint (Pommes 24/7) and a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

#coke

Suddenly, 28h after race start, I was in a situation I was really unprepared for: second last man standing. Only the two of us were running. There were plenty of reason why I decided (what a strange situation to be able to decide when the race would stop) to not run beyond 29 yards. It just felt right and I am really happy to be able to assist Norman to the well-deserved silver ticket – he will be undoubtedly a great representative in the German national team for the Backyard championships this October.

One day I may try this format again to try to go further and try to really play this game to the end. Whatever this may mean.

TorTour de Ruhr 2016-2022

It is not my style of running and it is not my favorite type of track either. It is flat, it is sometimes boring, it is exhausting and demanding. Most horrible is: there is no excuse for a little walk and chat – TTdR is all in: from minute one until the end.

But there is something shining in #RAL2004 at the very end of it which pulls us down that river. There is something attractive and magic about this race. A huge part of it is for sure the amount of dedication the RD, his team and all the volunteers at these great CPs put into the these two days. Another part is the mandatory crew – although lonely you are never alone and you do not run that race for you alone – you run it for your crew as well. You definitely want to reach that very last 1000 m from where you can see the orange block of steel with and for all of them. The moment you know it was worth the effort. The moment of peace and relieve between Ruhr and Rhein.

3 attempts, 3 distances, 3 finishes – time to say thank you – time to say goodbye!

2016 – first 100 miles!
2018 – 230k – longest distance at that time!
2022 – 100k PB!

Mystique – Marvel Slam 2022 #1

First track of the Marvel Slam 2022 done. Always interesting to run a self-created route for the first time. There are still some minor „mistakes“ in the track and I may correct some as there are more runners to come and have a go on Mystique. But all in all it proved to be what I meant it to be – an easy sightseeing track in these nice Eifel areas at the first glance – and somehow creepy gruelling while doing it. A diverse route – lots of asphalt (compared to the usual self-created track) and even some km on street (those were needed to be able to combine all the nice parts in a reasonable distance). But there are single trails, non-existing single trails, steep and rocky climbs, overgrown miseries in as well – to acknowledge the basics of long-distance-travelling.

Its the area around Mayschoß and Altenahr (including the famous climbing part Engelsley), its lots of old roman architecture excavations along the way, its long demanding climbs on big routs through endless fields, its a good portion of old, overgrown and non-existing paths challenging the runner to climb-through and its lots of touristic sightseeing involved.

It took us 39h15m to finish it – another great walk for the two of us.

25% Marvel Slam 2022

Ultra Family?

Place us around a campfire and we will be buddies within minutes. Stories to be told about recent and distant adventures. We all have been there. We all have gone through. We all have been in those fights, we all pushed ourselves through the misery, we all saw all imaginable real and non-real things, we all went through some pain – and we all were confronted with the most funny and even dangerous weather conditions this earth holds for us. We are united in these aspects and we love to tell and to listen to them stories.

This is probably what this ultra family thing is all about.

But it is not what fascinates me most about long distance running. It is undoubtedly a nice thing to sit together with a few fellow distance runners and have some stories to tell. But it is the edges of things where the real treasure of long distance running is hidden. Those edges which are a bit too private to share with anyone but which have a huge influence on performance and the outcome of adventures.

As we can’t look into the heads and hearts of each other there will be always something hidden. Something individual and private, something what drives or hinders us – an inner burden or power only real for the individual runner itself. This is where this sports, and other endurance challenges, gets so unique and fascinating. No matter how fit, well trained or however different the fellow runners are – all of them may fight inner devils or may be driven by inner forces we have absolutely no clue about.

Then you see them suddenly sitting there and giving up where they should be running as they did so many times before.

Then you see a good friend running a race and suddenly slowing down for no obvious reason. In an area where your friend is unbeaten on normal days.

Then you look into the eyes of your fellow runner and know it is unbearable for your mate – and yet there is no complaining, no arguing and most astonishing: still movement.

Sometimes you get to hear the full story and reasons afterwards and are left with no words. But most of the times you just silently wonder what forces and what feelings are revealed by long distance running and can only be amazed about the different strategies people come up with to deal with them. To whatever result it at the end of each of those adventures led.

That is the real treasure and fascination of long distance running to me. This is what calls for a lot of respect and humility for those out there on their various paths.

Trying to DNF@STUNT100 2018. Did not work out at the end. Had to realize that I was not focused enough – once I realized this (after two cups of coffee at this supply point) I had no other option but to continue.

Marvel Slam 2022 Update

We created the Marvel Slam 2022 due to the fun we had with our small Titanic Slam in 2021. The basic idea is to promote the style of running we like most and to enable the community to participate in that. All details on the challenge and conditions can be found at acceptnolimits.eu.

Marvel Slam Page @acceptnolimits.eu

With now almost 4 month into the Marvel Slam it looks like our plan does work out.

Runners who accepted and entered the competition did not complain about missing information – they know it is part of the challenge to plan and prepare yourself independent of everything around you. It is up to every individual runner when to start, to chose with whom they may want to partner or if they want to conquer one or more of the tracks alone – there is no organisation. The Marvel Slam community lives independently, useful information and experiences are shared amongst – and only amongst – the runners and help/support is offered both with and without being asked for. Exactly how we understand the concept of long-distance-running.

And what performance we already saw… We saw them fail, we saw them coming back (and once even coming back a third time) to finally conquer one of the tracks. We saw impossible situations and we saw a few of them solved nevertheless. The overall success rate of 28 attempts is 43%. So it is still more likely to fail than to succeed. We will have really interesting rest of 2022 within the Marvel Slam.

How many of the 40 runners will be able to complete all 4 tracks within the given limit of 48h/track? How many more great stories of success and failure will we told? How many of the runners will not accept their limits and go beyond?

The newest habit is to just post the live-tracking link into the Marvel Slam community group without any pre-warning and the last attempts have been started and finished of one runner alone. We like that a lot. Being remote is a nice experience. Keep on pushing.

JUNUT50 2022

Das JUNUT Wochenende, wie wir es uns gewünscht hätten, ist leider nicht Realität geworden. Trotzdem haben wir die 50 km bis zum Ausbruch des Rennens inmitten eines Gewitters sehr genossen. Durchaus herausfordernde Bedingungen mit Dauerregen und Gewitter forderten volle Konzentration. Nicht unbemerkt blieb aber eine sehr schöne Strecke mit tollen Aussichten auf Altmühl und Donau und ihren Burgen und Schlössern.

In der schnellen Gruppe eingeteilt war uns eigentlich vorher klar, dass wir schnell Letzte im Rennen sein würden und das war eine interessante Erfahrung. Trotz Wetter lagen wir gut in unserem Zeitplan der uns durch die Cut-offs bringen sollte.

So blieb es bei 50 km in einer schönen Gegend und mit zwei mit Herzblut betriebenen und wunderbar ausgestatteten VPs – vielen Dank dafür!