About Facebooking

I am receiving a lot of criticism for posting #whilerunning. While I get the point that its annoying you: the option to block or unfriend me is a valid escape from those updates. While most of you probably think I am only doing this because of my desire for attention – this is not true. What you don’t know is that I have a lot of friends with special interests:

  • some are really interested in dead animals and parts of dead animals – so I take a picture of each of them I can find
  • some are really interested in blue bordjes with white writing on – so I take a picture of each of them I come across
  • some are interested in wrotten/old/degenerated/at risk of collapse buildings – so I take a picture of each of them I can find (outside and inside if doable)
  • some are interested in old/new/wrotten/in action military stuff – so I take a picture of each of them (if I can safely get into camera reach)
  • some are really interested in coke bottles/coke advertisements/everything coke-related – so I take a picture of each sign of coke I can find
  • some are really interested in caves – so I take a picture of each of those as well (with GPS coordinates)
  • some are really interested in forbidden/restricted/fenced/poisoned/radioactive areas – so I take a picture of those places (with GPS coordinates)
  • some are really interested in funny stickers on cars/street lights/houses etc. – so I take a picture of them as well
  • some are interested in flowers – so I take a picture of all of them (I really enjoy the winter)
  • some are really interested in different fences and how they are constructed – so I take a picture of all of them as well (GPS coordinates for the interesting ones)
  • some of them are really interested in everything related to the Netherlands and Belgium – so I take pictures of those evidences (cumbersome to run in those countries…)
  • some of them are interested in pictures of mud – so I take those puddle pictures
  • some of them are interested in pictures of everything related to alcohol (abuse) – so I take a few shots for them
  • some of them are interested in pictures of wooden planks – so I picture these as well
  • some of them like pictures capturing feelings like: pain, despair, endlessness, eternity, hopelessness, wideness and loneliness – so I take a few more pictures (tbh – I love those as well)
  • some of them like blurry pictures shot during horribly bad weather second or third ultra nights full of despair with numb fingers and half conscious brains – so I try my best of fiddling my phone out of the pocket (while asking myself: “how did I end up here – again?”)

Its not about me – its about my friends and what I can do to make their life´s a bit better. Its the small things that really matter at the end of the day. Please respect this. Its a gesture of respect to send those pictures to them. My way to say to them: “I feel you and I am here for you”!

Neutral Moresnet – das fast vergessene Land

Neutral für immer, belgisch vielleicht – preußisch niemals!

Ein Projekt welches schon lange auf Umsetzung wartet ist nun endlich vollendet – die Umrundung der ehemaligen Nation Neutral-Moresnet. Für jene die in Aachen bzw. der Euregio wohnen und unterwegs sind ist der Name Moresnet allgegenwärtig. Schließlich heißt ein Ort in der Gegend noch so. So richtig beschäftigt mit dem Thema Moresnet und der überaus verblüffenden Geschichte hinter dieser Bezeichnung und dem Staat Neutral-Moresnet der für immerhin mehr als 100 Jahre in dieser Gegend existierte hatte ich mich persönlich vorher ehrlich gesagt nicht.

Gut, dass der absolute Lieblingspodcasts “Geschichten aus der Geschichte” eingesprungen ist und die Story schon vor Jahren aufbereitet hat. Gehört hatte ich die Folge vor ca. einem Jahr und sofort war der Plan geboren doch einmal die komplette ehemalige Grenze abzulaufen.

Bevor es hier aber weitergeht bitte zuerst die unten verlinkte Folge hören; anschließend geht es darunter weiter:

Der Wikipedia Artikel hält noch ein paar weitere Infos und Daten zum ehemaligen Zwergstaat wie zum Beispiel die Flagge von Neutral Moresnet bereit:


Die Planung der Laufrunde erfolgte war dann doch recht simpel: zuerst den ehemaligen Grenzverlauf möglichst exact auf die Karte bringen (rot im rechten Bild) und anschließend schauen welche Wege möglichst nah an dieser Grenze verlaufen (blau im rechten Bild). An einigen Stellen war dann doch etwas Kreativität gefragt; gerade die letzten 2-3 km hoch um Dreiländereck haben keine wirklich passenden aktiven Wege entlang der ehemaligen Grenze. Da war also im Vorfeld klar, dass es etwas durchs Unterholz würde gehen müssen um einigermaßen korrekt zu bleiben.

links: Karte mit Grenzverlauf von Wikipedia; rechts: Übernahme des Grenzverlaufs auf die Karte (rot) und Steckenverlaufsplanung (blau)

Insgesamt eine schöne Tour:

Anbei noch ein paar Bilder…

… und ein paar Eindrücke per Video:

Vielen Dank an Daniel und Richard von Geschichten aus der Geschichte für die schöne Aufbereitung und die Inspiration ein Stück Heimat noch besser kennen zu lernen!

Are you ready for Legends Trail?

“There is a button on your tracker. When you press that button for 3 seconds you will feel it vibrate. Once you do that we consider this to be a REAL emergency and we will try to be at your position as fast as possible. On your number and hopefully in your phone there is a phone number. If you have a problem, or another runner has a problem you can call this number and we will try to help you. Please do not call if you are hungry, feel tired or feel lonely.”

A wise man.

Are you ready for Legends Trail” was one of the most asked question in the last 3-4 hours before the start of 2024 Legends Trail. The question came from runners/volunteers/crew members. The only honest answer – and the answer I gave – is “no“. My opinion is that one is never truly ready for such a challenge. One reason is that the amount of uncertainties is enormous (and its impossible to prepare for the unknown) and the other reason is that Legends Trail is a really long race. Really, really long. For the shorter distances you can take measures such: at this point in race I do this or that and that will safe me for a certain amount of time/distance until I do the same thing again. If that does not work I have here a plan B/C/D/E/F – one of those plan will ultimately do the trick and will make me finish.

Most runners (including me) try to apply similar strategic breakdowns to the Legends Trail – simply to make it a bit more manageable in the head before the race. Although that might be an important first step to do to not already freak out at the start line most of us secretly know that this is not worth for the whole thing. The amount of plans you may need during Legends Trail exceeds the letters in the alphabet and then there is the unknown hovering above the runners as well. Waiting to strike.

Lets take one step back and have look at the question from a different perspective. If the question only means: “Are you prepared for Legends Trail” the answer should be a different one. The answer should be: “I did everything under my control to prepare myself“. This preparation should include running, gear and mental preparation. And this preparation is or at least should be the basis for even thinking about starting

With regards to running everyone has very unique strategy but there are two general thing to take into consideration:

1. Go out when the conditions are the baddest you can think of. Because that’s a very likely scenario at Legends Trail. And you don’t want to be surprised by wind, rain, cold, hail, snow or ice.

2. Know the nights. Really know them. Embrace the darkness. Know how and when to sleep rough. If all goes down the drain at Legends Trail you may stand in pouring rain at freezing temperatures, shivering as hell already, but deadly tired with nothing else in mind than the urge to sleep. You may want to make sure to know every step you need to do in exactly this moment which safes you and prevents the DNF. Because the DNF will seem like the only way out of this situation.

With regards to material and equipment the considerations of Maarten “BEN JE KLAAR VOOR DE LEGENDS TRAIL?” are worth reading. Also his Material Checklist and his blog about feet and how to keep them operational should be must reads. The topic feet (an important one) and other packing considerations are also addressed here. Not everything is a 1:1 adaption but there is inspiration and there are successful strategies out there to copy from and to adapt so that they work for your individual needs. What also applies here: know your stuff. You may find out that you work best if you change shoes, you may find out that you want to wear multiple layers of socks, you may find out that waterproofs kill your feet – just make sure you find out BEFORE Legends Trail. Another advice would be: do not freak out at the CP sitting in front of your drop back. I don’t know to whom I talked about it lately but he/she mentioned that he/she wanted to change to new clothes at one of the CPs and ended up to put on the wet base layer from the stretch before just because it was too “complicated” to search for a fresh and dry one in the drop back. Stupid but it happens with a fucked-up mind. Live with it and don´t let it kill your race.

Well. Nothing really to say about the mental preparation. That’s an individual thing. My mindset is to be humble and thankful for the fact that I can take part in these kind of adventures and to embrace every step during it no matter how painful they may be. And I know that there are people both at the finish line and watching the dots which I don’t want to disappoint. I own and embrace a deep desire to make them happy. That does the trick for me. Make sure to find your best motivators and strategies as well.

With these point you should be prepared for Legends Trail (as good as you can do) so why are you not ready?

Because Legends Trail is absurd. Its a challenge which is tough from the very first step. Relentless climbing in ever changing but never easy conditions. Topped with most of the time interesting weather in the Ardennes in February. The energy the average Legends Trailer takes with them lasts roughly one day. The first night is considered to be kind of ok given the conditions and the first day is mostly fine as well. At the end of this time period (mostly around CP2) the energy is used up. It was a rough and very difficult 100-130 km ultra and its time that its over. Although perfectly normal feelings, this is the point in Legends time when the race slowly begins to start.

And no one is really ready for this second night. A night meant to break the runners, to finally crack them. To strip them down to their pure will and mental strength. One needs way more than those 100% to make it out of this second night. And there are still 24-30 hours left of Legends Trail at this point. Undoable.

Legends Sunday is usually a fragile construct. On the one hand its daylight (which makes things considerably easier) on the other hands the finish is too far to feel realistic and to pull you mentally. Its a demanding battle of attrition against Legends Trail and against yourself. And the worst is yet to come: night 3. If night 2 was already something one was not ready for – night 3 is the ultimate trip.

Things tend to break apart in night 3. Just like that. From one second to the other. The ability to orientate and to navigate is gone, the urge of sleep is overwhelming beyond description, your tired brain paints things into the forest which seriously distract you. You may see runners staring at stones. For minutes. You may find them wandering off track. You may find them crying, you may find them lying down with hypothermia, you may find them talking to themselves. Nothing prepares you for this. In night 3 everything finally collapses. The worlds disappears and you are not quite sure if the world may resurface. The only hope is daylight on the morning of Legends Monday.

Day 3 (aka Legends Monday) is the saviour, the ultimate relieve. You may be unprepared for the fact that you are not longer able to control your emotions. Every ever so tiny encouraging or beautiful thing you see or encounter may make you burst into tears. But in a good way. Close to the finish with the main effort behind you its an absolute astounding feeling. These moments as well as the moment of finish are the moments you came for. And they are beyond description but more than worth the effort. They truly belong to you and they will last. Most describe them as something which becomes part of their identity.

In the Trailmagazin Podcast Tom (LT finisher from 2024) is being asked if the race director of Legends Trail is just inhuman and cruel. Tom´s answer fits perfectly as he says: “I think its quite the contrary”. I truly believe its exactly this. Legends Trail is designed to confront runners with the DNF – to push them on the edge of their limits and then continue to push further. Only by doing this, certain abilities, certain mindsets are revealed. The lucky few escaping and being able to finish Legends Trail have gone further than they thought they could. Its deep in the DNA of Legends Trail to reveal exactly this in the competitors. To be able to great these people at the finish line and to live with them through their emotions must be a truly satisfying moment. My believe is that Tim is truly worried about if the Legends Trail is difficult enough to push us that far but that he truly respects and admires the ones he can congratulate at the finish.

No, one is never ready for this. To a certain extend you go there empty handed but you if you manage it its truly unique.