Duinhopper 2021

A true journey changes those who are brave enough to travel wholeheartedly.

About:

The Duinhopper is a 220 km long GPX track provided by acceptnolimits.eu on the Duinhopper page. It covers the whole coast of the Netherlands between Hoek van Holland and Den Helder. How you organize yourself while running, how you manage this long distance is your problem – there is no further service provided. If you are interested in running this track – get in contact with the guys from acceptnolimits.eu and check out the above mentioned Duinhopper page for reports, hints and videos. The original Duinhopper is meant to be run in the winter time in the months January or February.

After the latest activities at the Dutch coast there has been an update post – see here:
En dan is er ineens weer ultra activiteit op het Duinhopper parcours.

The Plan:

While checking possible dates for long distance running weekends in 2021 we found the first weekend of October as one of the few possible options this year. As the Duinhopper is part of a private running challenge the decision on the course was easily made. We decided to keep our appearance on the coast secret until the very start of our run. For the fun and the surprise of it. As mentioned above the DH is normally meant to be run in winter but the challenge allows to differ from that. The final thing to do was logistics planning and it turned out that the best option we found is to park the car in the middle of the course at a train station (from where we could shuttle to the start and take a train back from finish line to the car as well). We decided to use the official parking at Driehuis train station which is 1,2 km off track but good connected via train and at km 120 of 220.

The travel to Driehuis by car and the train transfer to Hoek van Holland was horrible. We lost one hour in the traffic jams around Amsterdam and another hour because of a closed bridge (train just stopped and we had to wait for a transfer bus to the next station to pick-up another train). We finally announced to our running family what we were going to try and hit the start button on all our devices. Game on.

The First Night:

We started on Friday 1st of October at 21:37 – with the 48h time limit we had only one task: to reach the finish in Den Helder on Sunday 3rd of October before 21:37. Sounds like more than enough time considering that it is 220 km run.

We had light rain and some wind – but nothing too horrible. After a few hours the sky became clear and we had great running conditions. Within the first marathon the haven and boulevard of Scheveningen was probably the highlight of the night. Always amazing to enter civilization after hours of dark and calm nature. We made quite good progress and our first 15 min break around km 50 because we were quite tired. But sun was near.

Lights all along the coast…

The First Day:

Around km 50 the Dunes became more and more serious. The track does not alway uses existing patches – as with every great adventure: you need to walk your own path if you want to succeed. The sun was rising revealing the surrounding – and no kidding: we were amazed. What a beautiful coast. Km 50-99 cover a variety of different Dune areas – all of them different – all of them beautiful. Sometimes Savanna-like (a wide grassland full of animals) sometimes Sahara-like (sand) and sometimes covered with dwarfs (don’t ask). We had a blast. Not too fresh anymore, not fast but we had good weather and moments of pure unity with nature. We even stopped for the second 15 min break to take a nap in the sun. A dear was lying 5 meters away from us and stayed there as if he wanted to protect (or control) the sleepy Germans.

At the end of this stretch the next most welcomed surprise was waiting for us. Maarten and his car with some supply.

The news of us travelling along the coast was squeezed through the secret channels of the internet (we know we have to thank Maarten for a lot of work behind the scenes) and we were closely watched and supported by an amazing Dutch long distance running family. Maarten met us a second time at around km 103 – sending us on our last part to our car. He even found the time to shoot an amazing drone video:

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Thanks to Maarten for this amazing shot!

The Second Night:

We reached the car at km 120 in the dark and in more and more intense rain. Long distance running reality hit us hard. All wet and freezing – changing clothes – repacking backs – trying to dry the feet a bit – eat something – finally a sleep in the warm car. The moment the alarm clock rang was so absurd. Kind of warm and dry sitting in a car looking into what was now clearly more than light rain and wind… In these moments: if you have any doubts don’t speak about it. We both were thinking the same about what would be reasonable to do but consequently did the opposite of it. I think we can agree that we do not want to speak about that second night. Luckily we managed to move a little, luckily the hardest rain and wind stopped after a few hours, luckily we were wise and brave enough to split up (after all these years of running we did this the first time) and luckily even the darkest and wettest night has to end. Even in the hardest moments with your best friend you have to stay rational and make wise decisions. Both of us were fighting different battles – and we did this alone. Pushed by the hope that it would be beneficial for a united finish. At the end of the night we were joined by Addie and Margret and had another section of great support. Can’t thank you enough!

Some rain again – km 175 Schoorl

The Second Day:

The first daylight of day 2 revealed the Dunes around Schoorl. A nice hit in the face. And, even more horrible, the last 9 km of real Dunes down to the beach. Exhausted, hopelessness, slightly unconscious and zombie-walking through the endless hills. It. Must. End. So pissed about the Dunes at that moment. But finally – the Beach – and another family member: Francois. Three figures shuffling on the beach. Absurd feeling. Would this endless beach really bring us to Den Helder? Still 38 km to go – long hours of „running“ ahead. But we were still in, we had support and we had hope. We met Francois´ car at km 191 and 204 – great to have something to hold on. It felt like no progress at all sometimes but slowly we were approaching.

The Final:

We left the beach 12km before the finish line. From now on it would be cycling/walking paths through mild Dunes followed by the last long grass part on the dike of Den Helder. Completely exhausted the final relief was slowly approaching. We would really do it. Together with this certainty the sun was back. Some unforgettable km up there in North Holland. Painful but happy moments.

The FB call from our running family was the ultimate sign – we did it. And off course we were not alone – Francois came with beer. I mean: how great was that.

Duinhopper 2021 – job done!

The numbers:

225,66 km; 45:35h; 2600D+; 50% TS

The Shoutout:

Maarten, Addie, Margret, Francois, Stefan, all members of the TS group – one for all, all for one! Fantastic long distance family!

*** LIVE – Duinhopper – LIVE ***

#northbound #vakantiedeluxe #hvh->denhelder #legendstracking #hophopdontstop #duinhopper #trainingforkate

LIVE: https://tim-weissbach.legendstracking.com/

Info: https://www.acceptnolimits.eu/events/duinhopper/

„Take your time, play the long game, embrace the boring, the difficulties, the uncomfortable. This is how it will happen.“

Maxime Lagace

Start: 01.10.2021 2130

Updates:

Finish: 45:35 h

Tired of Running

There are sometimes phases in which running (especially long-distance-running) seems to be so far away that you slowly really disconnect from that world. Finally retired from that bullshit with no way back. Either it is because of injury, other things in life which need all of your time or a long down period from a previously encountered great victory/huge defeat (its really the same in long-distance-running).

In the beginning it’s a weird feeling: you open e.g. Strava, one of the (un)social networks or your Garmin Connect app and everyone – EVERYONE – is running like hell. And this does not feel nice. All of them (some of them are even your friends) are so strong and running long distances as if it is nothing. Again and again. Meanwhile you sit at home looking into the dark night outside unsure if it is regret or relief that you are not out there with them. Then you silently close down the live tracking page, switch off your PC and go to bed.

With a little bit more time into your new running-free life this heavy weight lifts a bit. You start to feel better and are happy for them who are running. You are able to applaud again, cheer with them and even support them while they follow their running dreams. Further and faster – beyond all boundaries. But this is no longer your mission.

When you stumble over your running shoes or your running gear you sometimes have to smile a little. A faint smile from far, far away. What infinite amount of hours you used all that stuff. All those dark and painful nights, all those shivering beginnings/ends of days where you felt like the tiniest and weakest particle of dust in this huge universe. Good that this is the past. Good that this is over.

But is it?

What if …? – what if you open your database one last time and check for that one track you drew ages ago and never ran? Just look at the GPX. Remember how you created this file. What a fool you have been back then. How could you honestly think that these connected dots would make a nice adventure? How could you think they really matter?

Somehow these unanswered questions also do not feel great. Quite the contrary.

And now?

Lights in the dark.

BjöTiFul 50 2021

Back in 2015 we created a track inspired by the group run „Rund um Aachen“. We thought: the concept is nice but why not extend the loop a bit to include some of the more „interesting“ parts of the areas.

In 2015 we did not find the time and the endurance to actually run the whole loop. We did the first and the second half and even DNFed the second half because we knew that the last 14k are somewhat traily and difficult. This has been finally corrected. It was amazing to run a 6 year old GPX, share old memories of the parts, acknowledge the fact that if would create it these days it would be totally different. Lots of surprises – lots of throw-backs. All in all the track is very diverse and includes all available surroundings. Mens-high thornes, nettles and grass, traily trails (we saw some parts of mAMa) and some parts where running is possible as well. The weather played its part nicely as well and flooded us especially in the second half regulary (which did not improve the trail conditions).

It was good to be out there again – we enjoyed the views!

DDDDNF

And another DNF – the Duivelse Double Digits challenge ended end of June. I was not successful to finish all of the 56 double digits – 47 are done whatsoever:

Thanks Marek – nice & stupid idea!

Place 23/300 – 1,323.57 km!

Here is the gallery!

DNF LEO180 2021

Next to all the stories, myths and legends about crossing borders and pushing limits there are also these moments where your are so far away that you simply need to accept your failure and identify your mistakes.

Nevertheless – it was great to meet and connect – to discuss and to plan. Thanks for supporting and hosting me.

*** LIVE LEO180 2021 ***

Back in 2017 we started the car to drive to Goirle with the intention to head into a remarkable adventure. We met a lot of people for the first time unsure if we would be welcome – if we would fit into this group. Looking back at that legendary first pre-race evening – it seems like ages ago – there are no doubts left anymore. Tons of memories have been created since then. I would love to tell them all but our time on earth is limited. Although the first edition of LEO180 was a DNF I decided to come back the next years and meanwhile the area feels like home. A home which is also inhabited by loneliness, vastness, lots of sand, pain, exhaustion and empty coke bottles. But still a home.

It is about to start the car again to add another story – whatever the end of this story may be.

Off to visit some friends – vacantie deluxe.
Tomorrow – 0800 – http://tim_weissbach.legendstracking.com

Finish 2018 (left) vs. Finish 2019 (right)
The original No-Coke-2018

Packing considerations

Electronics:

  • 1-2 Powerbanks, charged (depends on duration of the run and dropback strategy)
  • GPS watch (do not forget to upload the track and make sure that you were successful)
  • GPS watch cable
  • GPS handheld with charged batteries (upload the track)
  • 1-2 sets of additional batterie sets for GPS handheld (charged)
  • Headlamp with charged batteries
  • 1-2 sets of additional batterie sets for headlamp (charged)
  • Smartphone
  • Smartphone cable
  • Smartphone earphones
  • GPS tracker (if you have one)
  • Signal light (to be attached to your clothings/backpack for road safety and to annoy following runners; sometimes mandatory in races)

Backpack Brainstorming:

If you happen to have several ones – be sure that you know what they are capable of and decide according to your upcoming run. Do you need to be fast? Do you have a lot of dropbacks so that you can refill every other day? Do you need to carry everything all the time? Really? The normal tendency is to overpack – be aware of that and consider to reduce stuff. Make sure that you are aware of the weather conditions during your run as good as possible. Heat and sweat, rain, cold – all that may have an influence on your backpack choice. Be aware where your backpack will destroy your body if you do mistakes while packing and running – do not do these mistakes.

Shoes & Feet:

Well, this is a delicate and personal thing. You may want to:

  • tape your feet to slow-down the blister formation (I use Kinesiotape) or treat your feet with your strategy to keep them as long as possible as intact as possible
  • be ready to renew that tape/retreat your feet on CPs (if any)
  • if you want to re-tape you need a towel to dry and clean your feet, a needle or scissor (to burst blisters) and fresh socks in your dropback or backpack
  • if you have the time at CPs and your feet are in miserable conditions a break of 30-60 min may help to completely dry your feet (a fan helps to speed-up this process)
  • know the pros and cons of your socks and shoes and the parts of your feet they will destroy
  • consider to wear water-proof socks (be aware that they will not be proof forever)
  • consider to wear thin, comfortable socks under your water-proof socks
  • consider to remove the insole of your shoes when wearing thick water-proof socks (the thick socks cover-up for the missing insole and the gained space is a relieve for your swelling feet
  • changing shoes (if possible) may be an option to think about – be aware that your feet will swell and hurt so you may want to change into wider and comfortable shoes
  • be aware that you will be on one point of your long run no longer able to change our shoes
  • Read for more details about feet especially in wet conditions this!

Clothing:

Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly – only use stuff you know and you trained in and feel comfortable in. Here are a couple of helpful things to consider:

  • Buffs, hats, gloves and arm warmers are really nice tools to keep your temperature feelings ideal and are easy to remove/put on while running
  • Protect your head from direct sunlight
  • Wear sunglasses if you can run with them – this seems unnecessary but to keep stress from your eyes helps you to stay relaxed
  • Wear underwear and socks you know and which are suitable for what your are doing to prevent chafing as good as possible
  • Plan carefully what you need in your backpack/dropbacks to change clothing
  • Always carry at least a light wind/waterproof jacket with you
  • Keep in mind that you tend to feel colder and start shivering the longer the race lasts
  • Check mandatory equipment when racing

Safety & Hygiene

  • Vaseline/Nok cream/others – to prevent chafing wherever you want to prevent it
  • First-aid kit (fully equipped)
  • Do not forget your meds if you need some regularly
  • Bring safety blankets/sleeping backs (handy if you for whatever reason need to sleep or dye)
  • Check mandatory equipment when racing

Food & Drinks

That is up to you. Whatever helps you to stay up and running. Apart from that:

  • make sure that your water management is fine-tuned – check for places where you can get water during your run and mark them on your GPS
  • Salt pills next to water are important and may help to keep you ok (esp. in warm conditions)
  • I tend to use caffein pills when the seriously tired moments start
  • Coke (just kidding)

Others:

  • Poles (in some races you need to carry them all the time, in some races it is allowed to pick them up at later CP)
  • some packs handkerchiefs
  • ID, creditcard/bank card, 100 € cash
  • (Car)keys
  • FFP2/medical mask
  • Coins for vending machines
  • fatty lipstick (especially in cold conditions) to pretend your lips from cracking
  • if go into the void – take a water filter with you
  • pack your car with whatever you need after finishing your run

More helpful packing list considerations can be found here

To be completed.


Rivers of Hautes Fagnes

Always fascinating to to leave or enter the high plateau of Hautes Fagnes through one of the countless river valleys with their unique atmosphere.

The overwhelming sound of water in these small canyons. Not a single spot of ground without mud, water, roots or stones. Every part of your body and mind focused on the technical details. Not a single easy step. A special kind of horror in situations where you have already been running for a long period of time or are still recovering from the last adventure. If you happen to enter these parts in dark, wet and misty nights the setting is perfect. Throw back UTDS+ or Legends Trail. Lovely moments.

The power and beauty of nature are so close in these narrow canyons. The central nervous system of the Ardenne Bleue – the bridge between Hautes Fagnes and the more serious climbings further down there.

To top this – there is still Hautes Fagnes waiting on the upper end of these stretches. Alway amazing – especially during the hours of dawn and early morning. Worth every effort.

Focus

No matter how exciting it felt at the beginning – at the end all reduces to very little.

It starts with excitement, with joy and with hustle and bustle. The connection with the surrounding and the fellow runners is intense. It feels like a big journey and a great adventure. Lots of discussions go along with lots of laughter. What a great experience. What a gift to be out there together.

Despite this promising start everyone is well aware that this status will not last. It must end as it consumes too much energy and wasting energy is a dangerous thing. Discussions and laughter begin to fade – replaced by increasing periods of calm and monotone running.

The final step to focus is the disconnection from any external influences. One after the other the bands to the „normal“ world need to be losen and finally cut. It is a decision to let go of everything else and the decision to concentrate and focus on the one thing: to go on. Similar to the focus of the headlamp in a moonless night which reduces every existence to a small colourless and 2-dimensional spot: this final step means to enter a place within yourself where no disturbances from the outside can reach you. It is a unique place and only yourself can enter it. All decisions are now directed to the one goal. The sooner one reaches that state the better. It preserves from worrying too much and the strong focus allows no doubts. The still existing troubles are quiet for a while. They will for sure come back and the focus will fade again but it is important to understand that it is possible to go back there at any time. It comes with experience and is improved by practice. It needs a certain kind of mental strength but is worth every effort:

Loops do not matter anymore.
Weather does not matter anymore.
Distance does not matter anymore.
Hopelessness does no matter anymore.

Finishing does.