The official live-tracking would have added additional costs so I will just take my tracker with me. The usual one-dot-show to be followed here.
For some additional info – here is the breakdown of the different parts of #it200:
Enough is enough. Temperatures reaching above 20°C levels, daylight is almost days long… Time for the usual summer hibernation to endure this period until, finally, the darkness, the mud and the cold return.
So what are those distance runner doing? Some have been spotted to try to adapt with sophisticated drinking strategies to prevent dehydration:
Some have been spotted trying to hide somewhere at random destructive places:
Some found new homes:
So time to say goodbye for now – until the distance season returns.
Independent long-distance-planning means you really need to sit down and do your homework. A work meant to prepare you for all occasions which still leaves some doubts behind…
This gas station does not really looks like open 24/7. Does 24/7 means you can walk in at 0300 and buy coke or is it only gas you can pay with your credit card.
Will this cemetery have his water tab open? Will it be possible to enter?
What if that point crashes – is the distance to the next point too far?
No one really likes this work but still I am rather better prepared than worse.
In Long Distance Running there is the tendency to form fellowships to push-through together. Although these may be unique and useful relationships it’s a thin line between success and failure of such fellowships. To not be mistaken: if it works out it may be the greatest experience you will ever have and create live-long memories.
Personally I would never commit to a long run together by default unless I know the partner(s) extremely well. And by extremely well I mean extraordinary well. It´s more the sort of: in literally every imaginable situation I know how the other will react and we have a plan for this. Obviously this needs to be true for the other fellows with regards to your reactions as well or this does not work.
The common issue with this is that every imaginable situation is a wide playing field when being out there for days.
And again – there are plenty of good reasons to form fellowships. First of all things are in general more enjoyable together. To go through rough situations and being able to laugh about or fight through together is really great and can help a lot. You can support another with motivation, gear, food – whatever may be needed. You can benefit from key abilities and share responsibilities: while one is navigating the other can take a mental “rest” and just follow, the other may have the spare food or clothing which could substantially help yourself, the other can remind yourself to keep up with food/water. A relationship which is beneficial for everyone which at the same time helps the time to pass a bit faster. Really helpful.
But what if that’s simply not enough? What if it all starts to be a burden rather than a supportive combination? Do you have these situation planned and covered as well?
What if that walking-running mixture the fellow is doing simply fucks you up? Will you be able to tell him/her? Do you know what the consequences are to stick together for you and your idea of the faith of your personal journey? Are you really sure that sticking together and enduring this situation is not only temporarily ok but will not backfire on you later in the run?
What if the hard time your mate is going through is totally fine for you and in principle you are ok to just walk/rest for a few minutes/hours until its get better but by having a realistic look on your watch you realize that you start failing on cutoff. Will you tell your buddy: listen: you seriously need to speed-up or I will need to leave you for good and speed-up alone? Can you cope with that? Did you discuss that upfront? Does your fellow know that this reaction may come and does he/she has a plan to not break immediately when facing this so that there is a chance that – once more energy is back – your fellow can continue his/her own fight with the potential to reach some dreams?
What if breaking the fellowship is needed – is everyone prepared for this so that it does not mean the end of running for one or the other? Although running together everyone should be always prepared for running alone by all means. Expect the worse to happen. At any time. Whatever your exit strategy may be – its advisable to have it at hand. It may be simple things like having you earphones ready when it comes to that point.
After all all members of such fellowships have different dreams and expectations and even more important: different level of determination to reach them. It’s impossible to be united on these and it’s even more impossible to have similar exit strategies when all goes down the drain. To at least have a rough understanding what the other may need in these end-of-world situations will be a huge advantage for the faith of your fellowship. Even if it means to split up.
There have been situations in which I told someone to speed-up because we were running short on cut-off although I knew the other was destroyed at that moment. There have been horrible nights with significant weather in which the running/walking/rest routines could not be synchronized anymore – in one of them we decided to split. Although this was a significant risk as the both the inside and outside conditions were calling for DNF we made the decision. On both ends there was hope it could work-out and after hours of horror for both of us it was a relieve to see the other headlamp again on the horizon: at the end it was the perfect decision and had the desired effect.
Having a dream and an overwhelming desire to reach this is key in Long Distance Running. Shared dreams is something you may hope for at the start line but is something you need to put a lot of effort in while running while on the same time you want to be ready to follow your personal dream with no excuses. Shared dreams are for sure worth to work for but sticking together for too long may become a disaster. If it works out though it’s purest gold.
Garmin added 91 points to the universe today. Finally they acknowledge all the steps we do and all the floors we climb! Apparently one climbing and one step expedition can be started at once – so it will take a while to finish them off.
We have been granted with VERY little information this year.
There is a lot of joking about the presumably warm/dry weather and a nice outdoor vacation weekend with some friends and family.
We all know it´s just jokes. No one will lure us into false safety.
Time has come to go again, to disconnect, to suffer and to strive.
We come empty handed and the only thing left to rely on is ourselves. Yet we will be there to face and conquer the unknown.
In a lot of movies there are these key scenes where the heroes of the whatever stories live-through an important change. A change from bad to good, a change from deepest sorrow to sheer luck or the rediscovery of a supposedly forever-gone knowledge/ability/emotion. It starts with faintest memories of it which slowly but surely solidify and finally fully returns so that the whatever story hero can thrive again and complete the story to its destined end.
Distance running can as well feel long-gone during certain periods. Periods with (almost) no running; periods in which each step feels like a wasted effort. May it be periods of injury, periods full with this emotional/physical emptiness after a tough adventure or just periods in which life had different challenges along the way which did not leave enough time for running.
Some things never completely vanish.
Staring into the pouring rain outside –
– faint memories of literally climbing steep trails which turned into rivers due to heavy rain suddenly appear in front of the inner eye
– or that one glorious moment of stupidly crossing a well-filled and tearing river up there in Hautes Fagnes in mid-winter in ice-cold water
Walking back that few steps from the car into the warmth at a freezing day –
– remember these ice-cold km where we discussed for hours how best we would wrap ourselves with gold foil as an extra layer of clothing (one day that moment will come)
– or this day where we desperately wanted to rest for a few minutes but it was just too cold to stand/sit still
Lying down in the warm bed –
– we lost count of the nights without sleep full of running/walking/crawling/hoping/hallucinating somewhere out there
– all the countless 10-30 min sleep breaks plain on the ground protected with a thin crackling aluminum foil – uncomfortable, painful moments of awful power-naps just to endure horrible first km of restarting shivering with the whole body
– the sound of dripping rain on aluminum
– or that glorious break where we “broke-in” into that small barn and lay down on a almost unbelievably comfortable hay stacks
Arriving at the car on an average day –
– ok, no mistakes now: unpack, undress, get dry cloth on, empty trash from backpack, refill water bladder, refill coke bottle, repack food, replace batteries in whatever devices, sit in car, power-bank phone and watch, eat for 10 minutes, sleep for max. 30 min,
GET OUT OF THAT CAR AND CONTINUE
All is well – those are memories from the past. No one would deliberately want to re-life all of this. No one.
Some of those batteries are probably charged. Oh look: the tracker – just charged it yesterday. And, how funny, the watch is fully charged and has some .gpx files loaded. After all: what is that little bit of rain, snow and darkness. I better pack the head lamp. And a spare battery. Some of those gels are close to expiry date. Oh wow – still 10 emergency blankets left (ALWAYS PACK AT LEAST TWO). Will I need the poles? Let me activate the guys
– it is time to do what we do
So. The whole world is running already;
we saw/are following/will see some remarkable performances on the Duinhopper from acceptnolimits.com which is open since January 1st and the famous Montane Spine Race 2023 is about to start – a lot of live tracking is waiting just a click away.
In both events friends were/are/will be competing and although it is nice to sit in the cozy inside watching the rain and wind penetrating nature – it does not feel completely right. It may be about time to do some running.
Funny as traditions sometimes are: February will be dominated by well-unknown events. We will hold our own marathon mAMa 2023 (already edition 8!) and the Legends Trail is waiting. Again. Battling the Ardennes in winter time. Looking forward to yet another impossible challenge.
In July 2023 a new format is waiting – escape racing starting from the Grauen Kopf with a pretty simple task: get away as far as possible in 48h from that point. Really looking forward to that – drawing tracks on maps, calculating efficiencies vs. the straight line of several options, plan supply – everything your own responsibility. So basically a combination of a lot of lovely things.
In between Legends Trail 2023 in February and Schinder-Trail Prison Break 2023 in July a few smaller challenges may be waiting and a private running weekend with the CREW is already scheduled. Looks like its going to be a good first half of 2023.
Another year down.
Looking back at 2022 it was a year of constantly dancing on the edge of what is possible to accomplish while trying to not stress the system too much. A restless search for time windows for the big projects compatible with the family calendar and the uncertainty if the health/conditions would allow the execution of the planned runs at these time slot. Everything was reduced to the one task: get it done no matter what. No room for funny mistakes, bad planning and repeated attempts.
At the end everything worked out nicely but it is also good that this situation has come to an end.
After the Titanic Slam in 2021 we decided to share the joy of these type of adventures with a bigger group of runners and created the Marvel Slam 2022. This meant another year was dominated by the task to plan, start and finish 4 extraordinary challenges. 766 km distributed over 4 runs – Dark World (100 miles best of Hautes Fagnes), Mystique (200 km Eifel including the climbings around Altenahr), Nightcrawler (200 km Ourthe – #noourthenoparty) and Wolverine (200 km in the Dinant area). It took me 155 hours of running to get them done. I was lucky that Björn was with me at Mystique and Nightcrawler and managed to withstand Dark World and Wolverine on my own. Tons of memories were generate – a truly marvellous set of distance runs. In addition to the above mentioned personal experiences it was delighting to see both known and unknown members of the long-distance-family fighting these challenges. Remarkable performances, remarkable failures and astonishing comebacks throughout the whole year. Countless hours of dot-watching these attempts, countless stories about the type of running we enjoy most, countless nonsense posts in our exclusive social media group – I will miss this group for sure once the year is over and the Marvel Slam chapter is closed.
Apart from the Marvel Slam adventures across the year there were some runs which have been a tribute to the past. In February I returned to the Ardennes to re-do the impossible – finish Montane Legendstrails for the second time after 2020. It was one of the most astonishing and surprising races – from km 40 to 280 I battled through the race side-by-side with dear Olav and we lived through a whole life together and managed to escape from the countless devils. Again. Maarten once told me the first LT finish may be sheer luck – one would need to go back a second time to prove that one does not feed from luck alone. He also mentioned some facts about a third finish to “defeat the luck at last” – but I may not have listened properly…
End of May it was time for yet another return: the return to the TorTour de Ruhr to finally say goodbye by finishing the third available distance: after 100 miles in 2016, 230 km in 2018 it was time for the 100 km Bambini distance. A special race as I was supported by my father for the first 60 km by bike and two friends on the last 40 km (also by bike) while running through those well-known areas.
Finally in June and October I appeared and re-appeared at a (for me) new race format – Backyard Ultra running. Being able to assist Normal with 29 yards in June opened the door to be part of Team Germany in October – what an honor. Unfortunately I only managed 33 yards in October – it was the limit at this day but this can´t be the limit for the time being. It was a pleasure to meet a bunch of new and fabulous runners and the venue, orga and track in Kandel // Bienwaldstadion was really nice. Although I currently have no ambition to return too soon – I still remember every single root/stone of this track – I have the funny feeling that I may not have been the last time in Kandel. Time will tell.
As with every year 2022 offered a few new perspectives on long-distance-running. First of all it was a new level of efficiency: with the rising amount of accomplished long runs everything becomes routine. From preparing long solo adventures or long races down to the single movements during a planned car break: every single action is streamlined to be as efficient as possible. Sometimes this feels like looking on what is happening as a third person from a distant perspective. The second take-away is probably a new level of relaxation. Whatever happens during preparation or running can be fixed. With the routine comes certainty. Certainty that no matter what happens finishing is still the best option.
It is time for some rest and a re-start of running in January 2023. Another year is waiting. So do the adventures.
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.