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?
48h after my own finish at the Montane Legends Trail LT250 I could not resist. The body felt somewhat ok already – at least ok enough to get into the car. I mean what would you have done? They were still out there and fighting. M&M during their epic and at the end successful LT500 journey. Around 360k into the race they for sure would be up for a good joke.
This was the one and only chance for my revenge. The revenge for the LEO180 2018 situation where they promised me coke at the car after 100 miles of running and a demanding night and where there was no coke at the end. No. Coke. Someone in the car emptied it already. Desperation. Hopelessness.
I underestimated the weather a bit and was lucky that the snow allowed me to reach the closest point on track. As any aid other then applauding is strictly forbidden at Legends Trails I brought a prepared empty coke bottle for them. How nice is this. I hobbled 300 m onto the course and positioned the coke bottle:
You may say: how mean is this now. There was of course nothing mean about it. It was more about bringing some extra motivation to them for the pain ahead and showing some respect for the already conquered distance. And there they were. Fighting but moving – full of snow and yet determined.
A quick hello, a few words. A new No-Coke-Foto. And off they were. Time to drive home again. Congrats guys – amazing race! And thanks for all the tales about the Legends Trail back in the days. I finally decided to not hate you any longer for this!
The LT Facebook group is full of packing lists, gear discussions, plans, weather forecasts and lots of pros and cons about every little details of the upcoming Legends Trail. With only one week to go this is probably normal and shows how excited everyone is. 500 or 250 km in the Ardennes ask for the best preparation possible. Lots of hours out there in a terrain with no mercy lay ahead of all of us. All is well.
I am also in the middle of planning the content of both backpack and drop back. Both shouldn’t be too heavy but need to contain everything one can imagine to be prepared for every situation possible. While reading all the posts I have the feeling I could have or maybe should have done more efforts on the packing list and maybe on training too. My plan is to take the following „things“ with me:
The memories of both dislike and attraction back in November 2017 during the LEO180 pre-race dinner. M&M told us about the Legends Trail and on that very moment I thought: Never. Ever. 250k in the Ardennes – one must be mental to even try it. Later that evening we watched Yiannis running while drinking beer – a remarkable evening. Full of doubts on what may lay ahead.
That memories of the feelings 50k before the LEO180 2017 finish. Broken and cold. DNFing. Far too weak to run far enough.
The feelings of deep relieve and joy during the TTdR 230 2018. Amazing feeling to finish that race. The moments 5k before the end – during the final countdown – where I was sure that it will become reality. These moments will remain unforgotten.
The memories of that moment 50k before the finish line during LEO180 2018. Broken and cold again. And with a damaged foot. And alone. 500 reasons why it would be only normal and totally ok to quit. But there was something pushing. It was neither the non-existing coke (no-coke-face-moment-of-my-life) nor the comfortable warmth in the „In den Bockenreyder“ restaurant 30k before the finish. While sitting there and cooling my hurting foot I discovered something strange. I somehow did not want to give up my second place. It felt like an effort way too high to bear, but after what felt like years: the finish was there.
The memories of 2019s Great Escape and Bello Gallico together with M.. The stunning Ardennes, the ups and the downs, the wining and arguing. The moments in pouring, ice-cold rain with no shelter and the decision that the only chance to not freeze to death is to run a little faster… Wonderful finishes!
The shining memories of LEO180 2019 together with VPsucher. Lots of doubts in between, lots of lessons on how to not sleep outside, a gruelling race against the time and that moment of a LEO180 finish together!
The memories of countless hours out there with VPsucher striving through the nothingness. Following nonsense GPX instructions. Often confronted with dead ends and a quite resisting nature. But always determined to enjoy and to discover.
The memories of countless sunrises after nights full of running. The astonishing feeling of energy coming from somewhere back into the body. After hours of darkness – hope and faith returning with each and everyone of these sunrises. The amazing changing colors during that hours…
The memories of countless and sleepless nights out there. Lonely dots under trillions of stars. Sometimes with a moon so shiny that we could turn out the lights and watch our shadows flying over the silver earth.
You may think this will not matter and will certainly not help during the race. I have the feeling that those feelings, memories and colors will not ease the effort in any way, will not provide shelter and comfort and will not protect me from the out there. But they may be the friends and company I wish to have and they should remind me that it – maybe – can be done. That there may be that shiny moment of crossing the finish line.
Wow. 2020 ist die NRW (No Rest for the Wicked)-Challenge mal so richtig groß geworden. Es ist eine Freude den Teilnehmern bei Ihren Anstrengungen zuzuschauen, sich selbst den Regeln zu unterwerfen und uns quasi alle zusammen daran zu machen, die 24 Stunden des Tages und die 7 Wochentage voll zu machen.
Ganze 12 Teilnehmer gibt es dieses Jahr und die Daumen sind gedrückt. Weitere 19 Tage bleiben um es zu schaffen – es bleibt also spannend.
Schon jetzt sei gesagt, dass wir das im Februar 2021 wiederholen wollen – es ist doch einfach zu spaßig. Wer schon jetzt Interesse anmelden mag, der möge das über den Blog tun. Alle Teilnehmer aus 2020 werden aber sowieso für 2021 erneut eingeladen.
Den Zwischenstand gibt es hier: NRW 2020 – raus mit Euch, die Zeit läuft!
We ended up in quite some discussions about GPS navigation lately and we think it is time to share our knowledge and to provide help and guidance. This is the first navigation masterclass and todays lesson is:
#1 Zoom levels
If you use a handheld GPS navigation device (lets just assume you recognized your smartphone is not the best device for these kind of things) to navigate during your trainings and races, there is always one screen occupied by something which looks like a map (we shall talk about maps during one of the next lessons). These maps tend to have something like a thin line with one or a few numbers on top of it in one of the corners of the screen. Some people call these lines „scale“. Scales are an old-fashioned kind of thing. People in the 80s already used them on papery things while trying to orientate. As „scale“ is not a really fancy name we will use the name zoom levels during this navigation masterclass. This lesson will be a short one as there is really little to know about zoom levels. If you want to follow a GPS track on your handheld GPS navigation devices, the following simple and straight forward list will help you to finally understand the numbers coming with the different zoom levels. Just adjust the map on your device to the level you like most and start your run:
0-50 meters – the disco-mode: You are young and speedy? You like dancing dots? You are a rebel and do not want to follow the already beaten paths? This is totally your zoom level. Always on the edge, fascinating to watch, thrilling to use. This is by the way the only level which really benefits from the amazing accuracy GPS-navigation provides!
(50-120 meters: Do not use this zoom level. This is for boring and weak people. It may actually help you but believe us: you really don’t want to be someone like this.)
120-1000 meters – the „expert“ level: Oh, yes. Close to perfection. This zoom level is extremely helpful. It provides an overview but still feels close to what is going on. You are a real expert. You are far too skilled in navigation to pay attention to all the little details – you care more about bigger picture. Well done! The world needs more people like you. Lead the way!
above 1000 meters – total control-mode: OMG! Amazing. Really! This level is bullet-proof. You will always be on track. Nothing can go wrong. What you should do: help others who are not using this zoom level. Make. Navigation. Great. Again.
the what-you-see-is-what-you-get-mode: Zoom out until you see the whole track on your screen. This will protect you from nasty surprises. You will always know where you are and how far to go. Attention: This works best during race/training loops longer than 100 miles. If you happen to run on a shorter track you may want to use on of the zoom-levels below.
the home-is-the-safest-place-on-earth-mode: Zoom out until you see your hometown. The whole town. It provides comfort – especially during the dark and challenging hours of your race. You will always feel close to home and this will enable you to run even further! Attention: This works best if you are more than 500 km away from your hometown. If you happen to run a race which is closer to your hometown you may want to use one of the zoom-levels below.
the Forrest-Gump-mode: Zoom out until you see (at least) two of the big oceans on this planet. One should be left and one should be right of your position. Got it? – great. It may take a while for your GPS device to display the map but this is simply due to the fact that the best things always take time. Make sure to not forget to turn around once a while. All is well.
the the-racedirector-said-the-course-is-well-marked-mode: switch your GPS navigation device off. It safes energy and protects the earth from global warming. Follow the markings. Do not accept any advices. Good luck!
You are welcome. Spread the rumours – share the knowledge! See you at the finish line. Or not. Stay tuned for further navigation masterclasses!
Hier noch der Nachtrag für alle die gern Zahlen möchten:
Im direkten Vergleich zu 2018 hatte 2019 3% mehr Kilometer (ca. 4250 je nachdem wie man rechnet) und damit einhergehend auch eine erhöhte Gesamtdauer. Die Anzahl der Aktivitäten ging hoch und die durchschnittliche Dauer/Aktivität ist gesunken (das sollte der Effekt der NRW-Challenge im Januar 2019 mit vielen aber kurzen Einheiten sein). 2019 war damit auch das Jahr mit den meisten Lauf-Kilometern bisher.
Der laufstärkste Monat 2019 und auch überhaupt war der November 2019 mit 540 km. Über die Monate verteilt sah das in 2019 so aus:
Die DUV listet 6 Veranstaltungen mit insgesamt 799 km für 2019. 4 davon waren 100 Meilen und mehr und haben die Gesamtzahl an Ultras auf 14 erhöht.
Kilometer-Ziele für 2020 gibt es nicht und bisher sind auch nur die ersten zwei Läufe in 2020 fest gebucht. Es geht auf die kurzen Strecken – aber dazu morgen mehr!