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.
Place us around a campfire and we will be buddies within minutes. Stories to be told about recent and distant adventures. We all have been there. We all have gone through. We all have been in those fights, we all pushed ourselves through the misery, we all saw all imaginable real and non-real things, we all went through some pain – and we all were confronted with the most funny and even dangerous weather conditions this earth holds for us. We are united in these aspects and we love to tell and to listen to them stories.
This is probably what this ultra family thing is all about.
But it is not what fascinates me most about long distance running. It is undoubtedly a nice thing to sit together with a few fellow distance runners and have some stories to tell. But it is the edges of things where the real treasure of long distance running is hidden. Those edges which are a bit too private to share with anyone but which have a huge influence on performance and the outcome of adventures.
As we can’t look into the heads and hearts of each other there will be always something hidden. Something individual and private, something what drives or hinders us – an inner burden or power only real for the individual runner itself. This is where this sports, and other endurance challenges, gets so unique and fascinating. No matter how fit, well trained or however different the fellow runners are – all of them may fight inner devils or may be driven by inner forces we have absolutely no clue about.
Then you see them suddenly sitting there and giving up where they should be running as they did so many times before.
Then you see a good friend running a race and suddenly slowing down for no obvious reason. In an area where your friend is unbeaten on normal days.
Then you look into the eyes of your fellow runner and know it is unbearable for your mate – and yet there is no complaining, no arguing and most astonishing: still movement.
Sometimes you get to hear the full story and reasons afterwards and are left with no words. But most of the times you just silently wonder what forces and what feelings are revealed by long distance running and can only be amazed about the different strategies people come up with to deal with them. To whatever result it at the end of each of those adventures led.
That is the real treasure and fascination of long distance running to me. This is what calls for a lot of respect and humility for those out there on their various paths.
We created the Marvel Slam 2022 due to the fun we had with our small Titanic Slam in 2021. The basic idea is to promote the style of running we like most and to enable the community to participate in that. All details on the challenge and conditions can be found at acceptnolimits.eu.
With now almost 4 month into the Marvel Slam it looks like our plan does work out.
Runners who accepted and entered the competition did not complain about missing information – they know it is part of the challenge to plan and prepare yourself independent of everything around you. It is up to every individual runner when to start, to chose with whom they may want to partner or if they want to conquer one or more of the tracks alone – there is no organisation. The Marvel Slam community lives independently, useful information and experiences are shared amongst – and only amongst – the runners and help/support is offered both with and without being asked for. Exactly how we understand the concept of long-distance-running.
And what performance we already saw… We saw them fail, we saw them coming back (and once even coming back a third time) to finally conquer one of the tracks. We saw impossible situations and we saw a few of them solved nevertheless. The overall success rate of 28 attempts is 43%. So it is still more likely to fail than to succeed. We will have really interesting rest of 2022 within the Marvel Slam.
How many of the 40 runners will be able to complete all 4 tracks within the given limit of 48h/track? How many more great stories of success and failure will we told? How many of the runners will not accept their limits and go beyond?
The newest habit is to just post the live-tracking link into the Marvel Slam community group without any pre-warning and the last attempts have been started and finished of one runner alone. We like that a lot. Being remote is a nice experience. Keep on pushing.
Being remote has a lot of different meanings. The day-to-day life offers a variety of different flavours of it and yet – as with a loft of things – long distance running adds a whole new quality of feelings to this expression. To understand this, one needs to go out there and one needs to go far – beyond the point where everything went smoothly, logical and controlled: beyond the safety zone.
Remote out there does not necessarily mean to be alone it does not even mean to be at a very isolated place. One can also feel remote while running with someone or even small group of people – as long as they came the same long way. Most of the times those companions are close friends or at least people with which one has already conquered a bunch of adventures.
Remote in these moments is a feeling of deep understanding how small and vulnerable one is compared to the vastness of this world and compared to the distance one wants to cover in the ongoing adventure. One also feels deep within that there is no real connection with the ongoing stream of normal life. Passing through villages or cities and passing by other humans – the disconnection could not be bigger. What is going on in their lifes just does not mean anything at these moments.
Although it is an overwhelming feeling – it is not free of hope. At the end there is the assurance that it is meant to be like this. That this is exactly how it needs to be. That this is an essential part of the journey. That this is the place and feeling one belongs to. The actual reason why this adventure was started.
The strangest moment is always reaching the finish line. Despite a deep relief and thankfulness that everything went well there is alway a big sadness of leaving the remote – of resurfacing into the normal life. With the end of a journey one immediately starts to miss the remote.
Until next time – until we relentlessly strive through this wonderful world to finally do what we do best: enjoying the remote.
Someone told me off for all the throwbacks (but I mean: how nice was LT272).
But yes – it is time to move on – so next stop: JUNUT. Heard a lot of nice stories about it and had this one on the list since a few years. JUNUT was part of the Millenium Quest – finish 4 of the longer races in Germany within one saison: JUNUT (239 km), TorTour de Ruhr (230 km), Hexenstieg (220 km) and Wibolt (320 km). This Millenium Quest does not exist anymore but all 4 races are for sure worth to run.
We did the full TorTour de Ruhr back in 2018 and in a few weeks we will finally have the chance to have a try on the JUNUT239. Really looking forward to it!
Just found something in the back of my cupboard. Something which has been lying around for quite a while. Unused and empty. Still this bib remained attached for all this months. This brings back memories – memories of a long gone adventure.
CP1 with all the hustle where I felt distant and not really into the whole thing. Too many people, to crowded place to find rest.
CP2 which was less crowded and a decent recovering brake at last.
CP3 where I entered broken – both mentally and physically – and where I was barely able to open the bag, resupply and close it again.
CP4 where I entered wet through and through and where it took ages to sort things out.
And the finally the finish – where I said: I will probably never go back through this.
After hours of striving through remote areas there are signs of life. Sings of other human beings. In this dark and cold night with the rough terrain around the view of lighted windows sends a certain portion of hope, of warmth and comfort. A sign that there is a different world to live in. But it feels not right and it could not show more clearly that this is not our world. Not at the moment. The people behind those windows in their comfort zone – whatever they may do – are so close and yet could not be more far away. This hope, this warmth and this comfort is not ours. If they would open their windows they would not understand what we may try to explain. They do not open them anyway. And although we are so close to a connection to what is considered to be a normal life we feel like an unpleasant guest. A piece of a puzzle which is already complete. Our path winds in front of us and leads us back into this dark and misty chaos. Unseen we leave the village again. Leaving nothing but muddy prints on the tarmac. Soon those windows are faint light dots on the horizon.
Already 5 years ago since the first contact, 5 years ago since the first registration for a LEO180 – who could have guessed what would happen. Luckily you decided to accept that application and we showed up in NL. The rest is history in the making.
Funny enough we hardly run together for a variety of reasons. Funny enough most of the times we talk and chat nonsense. Funny enough most of the times we like to make fun of each other.
And still: some things changed in the last 5 years.
Looking out of the window into the howling and ice-cold winter storm I am nowadays honestly thankful for the possibility to stay indoor and not being on one of the things we create. On the other hand: what a pity and what a wasted chance for some memorable moments.
When I nowadays meet someone on a Thursday night in knee deep mud we say „hello“ and continue as if it the most normal thing in the world.
When you set me lose in Noord-Brabant I will find my way to Coca-Cola in Tilburg.
My favourite radio station is SLAM!
I sometimes carry an empty Coke bottle with me while running.