Die Geschichte ist schnell erzählt. Falscher letzter Zug. Gestrandet in Kall – sowas ist immer ärgerlich. Um das Gemünd zu beruhigen schnell am dortigen Nationalparktor vorbeigeschaut und dann auf dem schnellsten Weg zurück zu einem frequentierten Bahnhof. Das war in dem Fall Langerwehe – perfekt zu erreichen über den Hauptwanderweg 5 des Eifelvereins von Gemünd nach Langerwehe. Elegant.
Nachts allein im starken Dauerregen war die erste Hälfte ereignisarm. Mit ca. 2 Meter Sichtweite im kalten Regen war es so eine der Passagen in der der Genuss ganz im Vordergrund steht. Scheinbar muss man auf jeder Tour durch die Nordeifel einmal nach Schmidt hoch – warum auch immer. Sonst waren große Teile der Strecke bekannt vom Wildnistrail und dem Nord-Eifel-Ultra von Stefan. Also schnell durch und ab in den Zug in Langerwehe.
Wald – auf jeden Fall, Wasser – reichlich von oben, Wildnis – vermutlich war ich verantwortlich für 100% der Mobilitätsdaten in der Nordeifel in dieser Nacht. Allein und doch beäugt von zahllosen Augen zwischen den Bäumen inmitten gleichgültig fallenden kalten Tropfen.
Eine doch sehr schöne und teils auch recht unterhaltsame Aktion ist beendet. Veranstaltende, Vereine und Supporter von 4 Aachener Laufveranstaltungen haben angesichts der anhaltenden Corona-Situation vom 28.11.2020 bis 28.02.2021 eine Ausgleichsmöglichkeit für das Laufen im Aachener Stadtgebiet angeboten. Ein Bluetooth Start-und Ziel-Turm samt Anleitung wurde aufgestellt und das Prinzip war denkbar einfach: App herunterladen, registrieren, vor jedem Lauf zwischen zwei Distanzen wählen (4,6 oder 9,2 km standen bei einer Rundenlänge von 2,3 km zur Auswahl) und nach dem Lauf die Zeit hochladen – Aachen Läuft eben.
Darüber hinaus wurde das Startgeld für die Aktion gespendet, weitere Spenden konnten getätigt werden und spendable Sponsoren haben immer wieder für nette Zwischen-Challenges Preise für die Laufenden bereit gestellt. Eine schöne Sache.
Ob der anhaltenden Pause offizieller Veranstaltungen nutzte ich diese Gelegenheit um einige längere Läufe auf der Runde zu absolvieren. Insgesamt sind 611,8 km in ca. 81 Stunden zusammen gekommen was 266 Runden um den Hangeweiher entspricht. Die Wochenleistungen bei Aachen Läuft sahen dabei wie folgt aus:
Ich bin also hauptsächlich im Dezember 2020 am Hangeweiher gewesen – mit der 100 Meilen Aktion am kalten 08. und 09. Januar 2021 als Höhepunkt und längstem Lauf (24 Stunden Laufzeit). Insgesamt wurde es der zweite Gesamtrang was die Gesamtkilometerleistung betraf – hinter einer unfassbar lauffreudigen Nummer 1. Irgendwie haben wir uns beide in der Überschrift des abschließenden Zeitungsartikel wiedergefunden. Tatsächlich haben wir gemeinsam die ein oder andere Runde gedreht und haben uns gegenseitig supported – es war mir ein Fest!
Simple Rules: start an activity (run/walk) at each of the 24 daily hours in February 2021. Go outside. Cover each of the 7 days as well. Each of the activities needs a minimum of 45 min duration and a minimum of 5 km distance. Most horrible rule of all: there need to be a mandatory 90 min break between two activities where you need to wait (a long run with switching your watch on and off does not count for multiple hours). It is meant to break the routine and yes: it should feel a bit nasty – at least sometimes.
All started 2019 with a stupid idea and it was continued with success in 2020. Alex asked to take-over and push this „beautiful idea“ to the next level:
Die Aktion #aachenläuft ist eine schöne Idee und funktioniert technisch echt gut wenn man die Hinweise der Organisatoren zur Nutzung der App beachtet. So kann man ganz gemütlich am Hangeweiher 2 oder 4 Runden drehen, dabei etwas für den guten Zweck tun und in diesen verrückten Corona-Monaten etwas Zeit an der frischen Luft verbringen. Also Ihr Aachener – raus an den Weiher!
Das schöne Wetter am Wochenende war zu einladend – 68 Runden (17×9.2 km) auf der Strecke plus einige Runden unten am Weiher machen auch 100 Meilen voll. In 23 Stunden und 45 Minuten eine gegen Ende doch sehr anstrengende Angelegenheit. Vielen Dank an alle die vorbei geschaut haben und ganz besonders an Uwe. Wir haben uns das erste Mal gesehen, aber es brauchte nur kurz bis wir uns gut verstanden haben. #1 und #2 der Rangliste gemeinsam auf der Runde – das hat Spaß gemacht.
It is time to draw the line and to sum up a very interesting year 2020. With what was and is going on in this viral world I consider myself as extremely lucky: a few plans had to change a bit but I was able to start almost each and every run (one exception: TTdR100 was cancelled and will be held in 2021) on the 2020 agenda. It was a narrow escape.
In February we had our yearly edition of mAMa. Some said afterwards they got wet feet. But this can´t be true.
Next stop was #3 in the Legends Trail Slam series. It was the Legends Trail himself end of February. Lots of people told me stories about it before – to do it myself was way more intense compared with anything I did so far. Standing there in the pouring rain after 200k and 48h in the race – not able to locate CP4 for more then 10 minutes – this memory is still so present as if it happened yesterday. What a fool I was. How incapable, how destroyed. Leaving CP4 again to face night number 3 and 60 more kilometers without any sleep was probably THE moment of 2020. The turning point. It was a horrible night. It was a long night. It was surreal and half of the things I saw were hallucinations. But I met a few friends along the way – both running in my and in the opposite direction (LT500 course) and I knew somewhere deep down that the reward of going through that would last.
The recovery from the 261k Legends Trail took a very long time. In the new COVID-19 world running re-started with a few non-sense running challenges and finally, in June, we used a low-viral moment to meet for a group run and post LT discussions: UTDS Legends Edition. Finally some sleep in the Ardennes!
It was a bit tough to wait for the final decision on whether or not the final run of the Legends Slam series could/would take place. At the end I was one of the lucky ones being able to participate in the physical edition of Another One Bites the Dust 2020. Only 13 runners in a format which was new to me. It was a very special race in multiple ways. At the end the Slam was done.
September finally offered the chance to have the first long run together with Björn in 2020 – 150k GR Hageland – again in Belgium. It was good to run and walk together again.
The final long run in 2020 was the attempt to finish the self-designed KATE180 run. Due to the new rules only the two of us started together – and DNFed after 100 miles. It was too much at the end. The track seems to be nice and covers a variety of beautiful sceneries. No one ever finished it though but I have the feeling that this may change in 2021.
In total 4 runs of 100 miles and more in 2020 setting the total count in this category to 18.
Shout outs to Björn, Maarten, Marek, Olav, „One-more-loop“ Jozef, Mike, Adrian, Stef, Tim and Fanny. We shared moments of 2020 together which will last. Thank you for the pushing, the challenges, the dedication, the nonsense, the support and the company.
Long distance running offered a new level of intensity this year. Not all of it was comfortable – some parts have been horrible and frightening. But it was a great feeling to understand that if I dig deep enough a reward waits at the end of all the suffering.
With all that said – there is one last really sad thing to say about 2020: no coke. Again. When will this end?
„And for some people, just to get back to camp alive is all they want in the world.“ Laz
Long story short – no finishers at KATE180 2020 „Corona-Edition“. We tried it and we failed. To not be able to finish a run you invented yourself is horrible and yet a bit satisfying.
In the last years we strived quite a lot through the KATE180 area. To finally combine it electronically was an extreme pleasure, to find out how it feels in real life was an eye-opener. The track offers a wide variety of different sceneries and undergrounds and a nice mixture of runnable parts and „are you kidding me?“ parts. Comforted by the DNF experience the track should be run in the direction we tried it. With Hautes Fagnes around 130k in. It is so beautiful up there and it looks like I used an almost non-existing trail up there to be part of the track. Water everywhere, mere traces of a trail, completely overgrown. The later in the run the better these parts feel.
Our reasons of failure have been diverse and do not matter. Either you are able to do it or you are not. Sometimes KATE180 has to win too.
I think I shared the story on how it all began quite some times. But to wrap it all up – it started with a funny live-tracking link I found on FB back in November 2016. I was amazed as only two runners seem to run a 180k distance somewhere not too far away in the Netherlands. Without any reason and without much attention. I then contacted the FB page of that run with the question if there would be another event like this. This was the 7th of January 2017. Turned out there was another run in November 2017. The rest is history: LEO180 2017, 2018 and 2019.
It took me quite some years to decide if that day back in Januar 2017 was a good or a bad day after all but in 2019 I could finally let go and make peace it. Turned out the guys over there run a nice internet page https://www.acceptnolimits.eu and it turned out that the 4 of us started to meet from time to time for whatever reasons and started to develop a certain kind of friendship. And by friendship we mean 50% hatred, 49% of irony and bullshit and 1% of respect. You may note that this is a strange friendship and you are totally correct with that assumption. Most of the times we just invite ourselves to stupid or hard or stupid and hard (social) runs or races to find out if we are stupid and tough enough to do it. Most of the time this is the case. So this became a good tradition.
Here are a few moments I really hated them:
But we have had some moments of joy as well:
So it was bound to happen what we have been working on within the past months. acceptnolimits.eu and pfadsucher.com joint forces and came up with a 1-year-challenge consisting of 4 runs. We will use the 2 existing runs hosted by M&M in NL (or at least parts of it), run number 3 will be contributed by us with start and finish in Aachen and we made up our minds and found a ridiculous run number four which will take place in BE. To be nice to the world we will only challenge our friends and will not give away a lot of details. Just another stupid idea of underground ultra running. We will give away the GPX files to our participants only, they have one year time starting next Friday (30.10.2020) to complete all 4 runs. Multiple attempts are allowed if failure may happen.
The coronavirus destroyed all our hopes of having at least some shared adventures but in the actual situation we will need to split even the smallest group of runners as we are coming from three countries (and plan to run in all three of them) and we will need to face the runs even more alone and more secret as we initially wanted it to be. But it is like it is. And it is going to start soon…
From behind the curtain we will follow GPX tracks again. We are bound to fail and that is one of the reasons why we even consider to start. We will obviously start with the race in Germany:
Winter is coming. Soon the running season is over and the ultra running season starts. Finally all the hustle and bustle ends. The trails are slowly but surely emptying again. It gets colder and darker. Rare sunlight spreads over half-frozen muddy, dirty and lonely trails. One is the only human striving through the nothingness. The breath freezes to clouds of mist in front of the headlamp and the crunch of the trail shoes on frozen ground is the only noise to be heard. Miles are coming and miles are going out there in the fresh, ice-cold and crisp shapes.
As it will be Corona-winter too and with rising numbers nothing is certain and granted. We are not sure which of our plans will become reality but we want to be prepared.
So my friends and me sat together to review ultra running. Not that ultra running in general was in question but I think there is one thing that unites and drives all of us: the longing of this one feeling. In our post-LT 250/500 race reviews we have been discussing quite a lot about our personal experiences out there and the moments we talked about most were not the ones full of joy or success. But the moments in which one finally understands and accepts the vastness of the surroundings and what a small piece oneself is in this big puzzle. The moments of exceeding the obvious borders the race puts upon you and the awareness that there is more beyond. VPsucher came back from his 360k DH win with similar experiences of sheer existence in the middle of the dunes with no human around for hours. It is a lonely but great feeling. Remote. Tackled. Beaten. And yet: moving and full of determination to finish.
We started to create something to share these moments together with a small group of similar-minded runners and friends. Running and racing on the grounds and in the areas we love with a certain level of difficulty. Rare-support to self-support events of pure running. Enjoying the art of creating the GPX-files and looking forward to fill them with some running. The set of runs we came up with will be challenging enough to have plenty options to fail. We combined them to a set for the real collectors among us.
We may spread the rumours when it seems applicable. Or we may not. Behind the curtain we will do some running of the type we think running should be: low-cost, free of limits, simple and pure. The paths ahead are laid out. Who will be able to follow them until the very end? In a good, old tradition it is meant to start around Halloween 2020.