Und dann der Legends Trail 250 2020. Was eine erstaunliche Reise durch 3 Nächte und zwei Tage es doch war. An Tag 3 endlich aus dem letzten unendlichen Flusstal aufzutauchen, das Ziel zum Greifen nah mit dem letzten Sonnenaufgang im Rücken – es war ein unbeschreibliches Gefühl. Über 60 Stunden Eins mit der Natur und jetzt sollte es zurück ins echte Leben gehen? Soziale Interaktion? Wie soll das funktionieren?
Es folgte die Corona-Zeit welche durch einige Challenges doch kurzweiliger und laufintensiver wurde als gedacht. Wir waren hier in Deutschland doch sehr privilegiert was die Einschränkungen anging. Duivelse Uitdaging 1 & 2 by Marek waren jedenfalls ein amüsanter Zeitvertreib. Mit den momentan möglichen Lockerungen kehrte auch endlich das lange Laufen zurück. Ein Gruppenlauf auf der verbesserten UTDS-Strecke war der perfekte Wiedereinstieg in das Ultralaufen und die perfekte Gelegenheit im Legends-Trail Gebiet in Erinnerungen zu schwelgen. Exquisite Truppe – gerade in diesem Gebiet. Experten-Runde quasi. UTDS Legends Edition.
Wie unterschiedlich und doch gleich die Momente. Sogar den direkten Bild-Vergleich gibt es – war das Wetter beim LT250 wirklich so schön?
Insgesamt steht 2020 nach 200 Tagen nicht schlecht da.
Und wie soll es jetzt weiter gehen? Schwer vorauszusagen mit dem Virus im Hintergrund. Doch die Pläne sind soweit gemacht. In 5 Wochen wird es richtig ernst. Der letzte Teil des Legends-Slam steht an: Another One Bites the Dust – AOBtD. 28 x 6.3 km warten mindestens – jede Stunde eine Runde. Keine Möglichkeit Zeit rauszulaufen: das wird eine langsame und konstante Qual. Aber die Verlockung den Slam zu erringen ist riesig. Hoffen wir, dass die Motivation und die Kraft für diesen würdigen Abschluss der Legends Trail Reihe reichen.
Anfang September und Ende Oktober sind 2 privatere und exklusivere Läufe geplant. Darüber wird es erst im Nachgang oder kurz vorher Infos zu geben. Wenn das alles so läuft wie geplant sollte 2020 mit genügend Herausforderungen zu Ende gehen.
Olav: „Hey Tim, that does not look elegant anymore“!
And he was right. Damn right. We were around 30 hours into our small ultra running restart session last weekend and I was feeling the usual side effects of being that long on my feet. But let’s start the story from the beginning.
We (7 funny persons from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) started at 0758 on Saturday 4th of July in Sart-lez-Spa to conquer the Ultra Tour des Sources track. The UTDS is not only a 157k race but also a way-marked path to challenge interested people. As it covers some nice and for most of us well-known areas of the Ardennes we thought it may be fun to try this with a self-support social run. Maarten was so kind to carefully check and revise the official GPS-track. We discussed some parts of the track and somehow concluded on a few „improvements“ around the nice city Coo. Somehow the original track avoids a few interesting passages. For whatever reason. No one knows. Really. Believe us.
The first 67k of our little adventure were quite enjoyable yet not too difficult. Unfortunately we lost our first colleague quite early in the game. The remaining six of us run/walked through Spa, visited the nice stream Le Ninglinspo and crossed the river L´ Amblève for the first time. In between we stopped from time to time to refill water and empty some bottles of sweet drinks and were then confronted with the fact that this group would not work until the end. Different reasons made 50% of us to use the track-back option on their watches to head straight back to the car. This still summed up to almost 100k for them.
Ultra running starts when the comfort zone is gone. And to lose half of our friends while running should be a clear sign for this. Maarten, Olav and me as the remaining three directly ran into our first problem. Water. It was a warm and sweaty Saturday and our supply was depleted. The next planned water pickup (cemetery) was still 13k away and we were already out of water. We got away by knocking on friendly peoples door to fill-up and made use of an outside water tap in the next village (we asked before). Refilled we entered the interesting part of the adventure. With the dark the slight rain came and the wind was suddenly present on the heights. Perfect. This is the setting you want to enter the self-improved most difficult part of the whole journey in the middle of the Ardennes. Finally the feeling of the Legends Trail adventure back in February was creeping back into our heads. I realized that I was accompanied by two LT500 finishers who survived a whole week in far worse conditions by watching Maarten and Olav speeding into this as if it was nothing. Impressive. We had a beautiful night. It was wet, cold and warm at the same time, we paused on a cold but dry planked backyard on a hill and we were surprised with a fixed rope route climb we didn’t knew before. Easy. Not.
As it is with all good things – this night ended. So did the rain. We were still in and somehow moving. I have to apologize guys from preventing you to do some proper running. We decided to have our first proper stop in a bakery in Malmedy at km 121 Sunday morning. Interesting strategy of us to wait 24h with this. Coffee, Fanta, Ham and Eggs. Nice breakfast. Although strange to sit dirty and smelling within the midst of all the Sunday morning people.
The setting of the last quarter of the track were the Hautes Fagnes. This meant an endless long climb up to Signal de Botrange. Always amazing to reach this highest point. We directly started with our second and last longer indoor break. Soup and Fanta.
Running downhill from that spot means always some beautiful but technical trails. Hard to manage with a stiff and painful body. But these are the moments of ultra running you have to be thankful for. Because beyond these moments the finish tastes even sweeter. We arrived after 33h38m and 162k with 4500 D+ m at the cars. Done. Thanks for this amazing weekend all of you.
At the end we may have not been the most elegant people out there but elegance may also not be the prime reason why we do kind of things.
Time for a little adventure next weekend to finally kickoff ultra-running after this period of social distancing and closed borders. It will be a pleasure to be able to meet this group of extraordinary runners and to finally be able to go back to a nice patch of Belgium: the Ardennes.
We chose the UTDS (Ultra Tour des Sources) a permanent market Extratrail route with a few „improvements“ to include some beautiful parts the original UTDS track avoids for whatever reasons. The final distance is around 100 Miles with approx. 5000 m D+ and the scenery will be stunning.
We will start at 0800 „sharp“ on Saturday 04.07.2020 and as we like to bore you to death there will be a live tracking. To bore you even more there will be only one dot as we will stick together as a group. ONE. DOT. It may be the purest and most intense Legends Tracking experience you will have in your entire life so make sure to enjoy every second. There you go:
If you dance with the devil you should not be afraid to burn your fingers
This was #1:
This was #2:
In total I lost 79 days of my life to this bullshit. 79 days for 1332 km means 16.86 km/d. Not too bad at all. Although it was sometimes fun and I am easily motivated by stupid things it was also a challenge. I learned the hard way what it means to just ignore all arguments and just get things done. No matter what nice things could have been the alternatives. No matter how much I hated it sometimes to not just run as long as I wanted but to run as long as it was needed to cross out the next distance of that funny lists. I encountered it with a new mental strategy. You start a run of lets say 33.30 km and you force yourself to think of something nice the first 28 km of the run. By that you really forget that you are running and by this basically just „wait“ until its over. To endure is a big part of endurance. And this is no coincidence. The last 5 km you enjoy your short run. Now I am afraid of that point in future I will use this strategy in a real race.
But lets forget about this. Thanks Maarten for the fun. Enough is enough and done is done. I am so tired of checking an Excel sheet before I start a run, so tired of starting the run with putting a distance goal on the watch (does it even works without entering something there?) and so tired of not being „allowed“ to just run as long as I want. It was a good mental exercise but it is time to say goodbye.
I am going back to where I belong. Into the woods, into the void and into the endlessness. Hoping to meet a few people out there to run some tracks together and to come back destroyed but with tons of nice stories to tell.
***Please don’t get me wrong: stay safe, go outside, don’t touch each other, keep 1.5 m distance and stay Corona-negative!***
Please? Asking for my friends. Everyone is now talking about distance – its everywhere in the news. Let me tell you: this is not good for my friends. They have been ok in the past and before this virus started. A bunch of totally normal LSD (Long Slow Distances) runners. But now? They are being pushed from all that distance-talking:
they create sheet after sheet full of nonsense running challenges – soon they will be lost in these columns and rows forever
they are being asked by their family members: who are you and what´s that smell?
some of them even started to run in loops again and again
some consider LSD is not enough and go for long-distance-inline-skating or other extreme sports
some wake up in the morning and think it is a normal thing to start the a day with a marathon
some open their weekly Strava stats and wonder why this number has 3 digits and a 2 in the front
some even say they are haunted by the Devil himself
Please. Give them the races back. And the group runs. The above simply can’t be the new normal – my friends will not be able to stop running soon. Forever running – imagine. No one wants that. This is something for the professionals.
Enough of funny challenges – enough of entering numbers in sheets. Where are the races/runs that punch us in the faces and allow us to rest the week before (and call it tapering) and the weeks after (and call it resting)? We need them back! ASAP!
Some of my friends would – as a first step – also being ok with banning all Germans from running. But let’s ignore them for now. Some are also asking to get the winter back. Waist-deep ice-cold water, snow and mud is what they want. Let’s ignore those too for now.
When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went. And so, you just ran? Yeah. Forrest Gump
Ach, das war doch mal nett. Für die Duivelse Uitdaging Challenge von Marek Vis fehlten unter anderem noch die 80 km und damit die längste Distanz. In Zeiten der Kontaktbeschränkungen und des Alleinelaufens kam spontan die Idee: warum nicht auf die Beverau-Runde zurückgreifen und den Lauffreunden Bescheid geben? Für alle gut erreichbar gelegen, angenehme Länge und meist breite Wege. Da fällt das Abstand halten leicht und wenn nicht alle gleichzeitig kommen würden? Lange genug würde ich ja unterwegs sein. Gesagt getan. Kurz durchgerechnet sollten entweder 30 oder 31 dieser ca. 2,65 km langen Runde für die 80 km reichen (je nach GPS-Verhalten). 9-10 Stunden sollten es tun.
Die Geschichte der Runde ist schnell erzählt. Sie startet offiziell an einem der Treffpunkte des LTB Aachen, welcher zugleich auch der Start des mAMa ist. Das Schöne an der Runde ist: es gibt nur eine Straßenquerung, sie ist nicht zu kurz, beleuchtet und daher ideal zum Rundendrehen. Die Geschichte, dass H und L auf dieser Runde schonmal Marathon gelaufen sind ist schon so alt, dass es mittlerweile einer Legende gleicht. Wie kann man auch so verrückt sein auf einer Stadtrunde immer im Kreis Marathon laufen. Also wirklich…
Gestartet bin ich um 0516. Merkwürdigerweise allein. Ab 7 Uhr wurde es dann aber deutlich lebhafter. Die ersten 3 Gäste trafen ein. In zwei Pärchen ging es dann in beiden Richtungen auf die Strecke. Nach jeder Runde wurde der Partner gewechselt. Speed-Dating. Oder so. Um halb 9 warteten schon die nächsten beiden Gäste und es ging in Dreierformation für 3 Runden auf die Strecke. Anschließend haben mich meine beiden Jungs für zwei Runden begleitet (gut, den einen musste ich schieben) – abgelöst von L auf dem Rad. Genau eine Runde nach der ersten Radbegleitung folgte direkt die Nächste! Perfekt. Das Wetter wollte wohl auch zur Abwechslung beitragen und stellte kurz auf Unwetter. Wir standen eine Weile frierend im Tunnel unter der Bahnstrecke aber H hatte mir extra Wassermelone mitgebracht – wunderbar. Die Sonne kehrte zurück und der Endspurt rückte näher. Der VPsucher kam mit J. kurz vorbei um „Hallo“ zu sagen und zum Zieleinlauf gab es dann nochmal Gäste! Ein sehr kurzweiliger Lauf, wenn auch ein wenig anstrengend. 30 Runden reichen für 80 km – für die 50 Meilen fehlten noch 400 m, also nochmal kurz hin und her an Start/Ziel. 9h49m – passt. Die 50 Meilen von Beverau sind abgehakt.
Vielen Dank für all die Gäste auf dieser kleinen Beverau-Corona-Party – schön euch alle wiedergesehen zu haben. Wo machen wir denn die noch fehlenden 70 km nächstes Wochenende? 😀
For me ultra running truly starts at the point where I have given up. To continue a run after this point seems mentally and physically impossible – the battle is finally lost at the end of a long fight. Beyond that point it is not getting any easier or less painful. Quite the contrary. But as I already lost against myself I am truly whole again. No longer divided between the urge to continue and the longing to quit. I don’t have to go through those deepest of all valleys again. There is suddenly a feeble light at the end of this tunnel.
It´s Sunday evening – somewhere out there. What a journey so far – 200k in 48h. Two nights and two days full of ups and downs: both physically and mentally.
Around 10k earlier I was in a good condition. The 4th and last CP finally in reach, the promised bad weather still calm and the head in a good mood full of hope again.
And now? Pouring, cold rain, really tough last kilometres (and that despite the fact that it was mostly going downhill on easy terrain) and again some thoughts on the greater meaning of all that. Plus: the track is gone. The GPX of that stage ended 200 m ago but where is that checkpoint now. It is cold and getting dark – the third night is about to start. There are some houses but the street is empty and abandoned. What am I doing here? What a cold and lonely place. I am exhausted and desperate for some rest or better: the end of all of this. It takes me 10 minutes to actually see the LT sign directing me to the back of a house and the door to the warm and comfortable CP. A sign of how desperate the situation seems to be. After the now routine actions at the CP and two plates of Pasta – decisions have to be made.
Or wait – there is nothing more to decide on: the path ahead finally crystal clear. Although it was comfortable to not run for some moments and just sit indoor, although the weather out there is awful and although the final stages is again 60k long and mostly dark. Although it will take more energy I have left…
It is time. Time to be superior of all that doubts and problems. Time to really earn that moment of relieve at the very end. The only option left with no matter what is waiting out there is: to go out again and finish.
Throwback January 2020. Hautes Fagnes. The idiots doing a night training session.
It is cold, dark, the track is watery and slippery – no other human knows our exact location (and we are sometimes not too sure about it ourselves). We are together and yet alone. Lost in the Belgium winter – driven by a indescribable force. Again out there while we should be at home sleeping. Witnessed only by the stars and a few creatures hidden in the bushes around. Immense tiny dots on that earth. Unnoticed but still moving.
In the aftermath of that run an E-Mail flow circled through our E-Mail postboxes with the nice title: „In case you really think it matters what you do…“
The only other content of that E-Mail was a link to a YT-video with a time-lapse animation with some predictions about the end of the universe within the next trillions of years…
Sometimes – while running out there – the vastness, the emptiness, the cold and the dark finally closes the grip around you. It is like trying to resist against the final destiny of becoming some forever frozen atoms in an expanding universal vastness waiting for the end of time. Determined to try to fight this destiny and yet sure that ultimately there will be no way out. Immensely enjoying the company of the fellowship of runners and feeling a strong bond within the group.
But: will it make a difference? Does it all matter after all?