DNF

By following the live-scoring of the individual Championships of Backyard Running (aka. Big Dog´s Backyard Ultra) which may or may bot approximately half-way of what everyone think could be the limit – there is an interesting terminology to be found on that tracking page.

In normal ultra races there are usually three things which can happen apart from finishing:

DNS: Did Not Start/Show aka “something went wrong and that’s why I couldn’t come”

DSQ: Disqualified aka “oops”

DNF: Did Not Finish aka “‘something‘ happened along the way which, unfortunately, made me diverge from the initial plan of finishing. You know. Well. Fuck.”

The Backyard family added three more detailed sub-levels to DNF – among them one really great one. Those three sub-levels are:

OVER: Backyard-specific expression of finishing (a loop) but over the given time limit of one hour per loop.

DNC: Did Not Complete loop. Well – it says quite clearly what it is. But in an honoring way. Its not a simple DNF – it values somehow the runner who had the guts to start the (most of the time) hopeless try to complete another loop. To go out another time. To fight the overwhelming task.

And then there is:

RTC: Refuse To Continue. And I mean: wow. Its not a simple DNF – its an RTC. A REFUSE to continue. Its a different and way more intense expression of a delicate situation. We all know runners (incl. ourselves) and their (our) various reasons and explanations of why they (we) did not finish a certain run/race. But the deeper story behind most of those “stories” is nicely summarized by the expression: RTC. Because at the end – whomever/whatever we are blaming for our failure – the reason of discontinuing is mostly to be found within ourselves. The strong inner voice, the strong outside discomforts, the whatever – it is our decision and its an active one. We actively refuse to go further because in front of us lays the uncertain beyond, even more misery or whatever makes us pull the easy option. The way out. The instant relief.

And by that I don’t mean to underestimate any effort taken nor want to criticise any RTC. It never comes easy and may be the better/safer/more reasonable/healthier option in many cases.

But still. Did Not Finish is a fact. REFUSE TO CONTINUE requires an active decision. A decision which could have been a different one. It feels like it leaves the door to continue a tiny bit open. Some would say both expressions are the same and technically that’s true. On the other hand – its a completely different view on the things – a view only those can understand who really dealt with certain circumstances…

Next time casualties arise I will try to remember – try to make myself clear that its me, and only me, who is making an active decision to not continue. It will certainly make the decision more difficult and by that hopefully pushing me beyond that point.

Just go on…

Biber Backyard Ultra 2023

And then Lammersdorf entered the game. Located in the beautiful Nordeifel this second edition of the Biber Backyard Ultra raised some attention so that the orga crew felt confident to see the 24h barrier fall this time (first edition lasted 16h). Organized by a super nice team the runners felt like being at home with a bunch of friends. The track set out is very interesting. Due to lots of uphill and downhill sections its pretty clear for the runners when to walk and when to run. So that problem was solved for us runners right away. Only a few meters of the track would reasonably allow both walking and running – so this was left to be decided along the way if its more a “I run that part” or “I will rather walk” loop. As a walker I did not even start to think about this to not bother me with these kind of decisions during the race. Consistency is key in distance running so an ever same rhythm helps with that. With 120 m D+ of elevation gain and some traily downhill section it will probably not make it into the record books of the backyard history but its really a nice loop to run as it offers a variety of undergrounds and views.

The second Biber Backyard Ultra stated 0800 03.06.2023 with more than 70 runners and perfect weather. A sunny Saturday, a chilly and brisk full moon night followed by yet another sunny start into Sunday framed the race weekend perfectly. Lots of people came with specific goals in mind – may it be the first Marathon, yet another Marathon, first Ultra, longest distance ever, 100 km, 100 mi, as long as it goes… Pretty nice atmosphere amongst the runners – lots of good conversations along the loops. Lots of personal best have been achieved. Knowing the dedication this takes in such a race one can only congratulate to all those runners pushing to their personal limits – and beyond.

4 runners were able to finish loop 24, two continued for loop 25 and the race was won after 26 loops by a member of the pfadsucher-Team – congratulations Björn. Although this was not what you really aimed for that piece of wood may become handy in the day-to-day life.

26 loops for a piece of wood with Laz´s signature

Personal Notes:

Despite the nice event and an over all great weekend 20 loops is clearly not what I came for. What is more: as this was Backyard #3 for me the dynamics of this format are now pretty clear to me. The downside of this knowledge is that it’s now even more obvious that to perform in the 30+ loop area in Backyards a certain fitness level needs to be available. Its not only the ultra mind side of things (in which if fell kind of at home) but also the ability to actually run with a higher basic speed. The way I like to run and the way I run day-to-day does not allow any of this fitness to really ever sink in. Therefor I guess this was my last Backyard at least for a longer period. Depending how the rest of German runners evolve in that format I will be available to run for the German team during the World Team Championships 2024 if my the ranking calls for that. Current Roster to be found here – qualification period ends August 15, 2024. Go catch some loops for a stronger German Team in 2024!

BackyART provided by LegendsTracking
A nice overview about what happened – #runalyze
A nice overview about what happened – #runalyze

Wrap-up 2022

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.

Marvel Slam 2022

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…

Beyond questioning anything. Montane Legends Trail 2022.

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.

TTdR 2022 – 100 km PB!

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.

What happens in Bienwald Stadion stays in Bienwald Stadion ;)
2022 Races

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.

Backyard Ultra Satellite Championships 2022

“… until its not.”

Just pulled a freshly washed Team GER jersey out of the washing machine while watching the YouTube live coverage of the very same race I left days ago. How weird is that, how unbelievable that Team BEL is still running. Outperforming everything everyone thought would be possible. 101 yards x 6.706 km – 4 nights/4 days of hourly running the very same loop. Deepest respect and congratulations to the whole Team BEL. They succeeded in fulfilling their #breaking100 goal.

Team Kerel for Germany 🙂

How minute my own 33 yards seem with that performance in comparison. But the Backyard format is unforgiving and the task is simply to stay in the race as long as possible with no excuses allowed to stop for any other reason than not being able to manage to run 6.7 km in one hour. And that is what I did. Starting from loop 31 I had problems with the muscles in my legs that wont allow me to make big steps anymore. But I stayed in for two more loops until it was no longer feasible to run/walk faster than 5 km/h. I was lucky that I started the loop 33 “quickly” enough to be able to hobble in in time. 220 km in 33 hours was simply the physical limit in this race. What gave hope for a possible next backyard is that the rest of the body was fine – no bigger issues with eating/exhaustion.

Team Germany 2022

It is with great misery to leave the team alone. Everyone dropping felt the same – that shows the nice spirit of this team event. Everyone of the German Team went to their individual limits and quite a few PBs were broken. We saw a lot of really good performances and the German race ended with 3 out of 4 reamining runners dropping out after 45 yards (300 km) and Hendrik finishing and winning the race with 46 yards. Congratulations to the whole team. With 484 loops Team Germany placed 14 out of 37 countries – definitely something with room form improvement.

A great experience to be part of that event – to be part of Team Germany. My individual performance was place 167 out of 555 runners total. All in all something to be happy with.

The bright side of life.

The final team and individual results can be found in this Google Sheet.

Overview #teamGER

The backyard ultra running format is not my favorite kind of running. But together with my support Mike Bruce (thanks a million) we discussed in the aftermaths a few things which could be improved both on the running and on the supporting end. Who knows when this knowledge may be handy. What I will certainly do is join the team another time in 2024 when my performance qualifies me and the team asks for for it.

Where dreams going to die. Or not.
Runalyze Video

2022 Backyard Ultra Satellite Team Championships – Team Germany

00Days
00Hours
00Minutes
00Seconds

Time is ticking. Slowly but surely.

I remember quite well how it all of this began back in July in the Bienwald Stadion in Kandel. Assisting at my first Backyard Ultra ever under the given conditions was a very interesting experience. But that is the past. It lead to a spot in the German Team at the 2022 Backyard Ultra Satellites and it is time to play this game seriously. Whatever this will mean.

Here is the teaser for the upcoming races next weekend:

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Here is my intro video:

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See all the other team members of Team Germany in the below youtube channel “German Backyard TV” – follow us on our mission to run a few more loops. Looking forward to form one team with all those strong runners:

Coverage by country of the original YouTube stream!

Live coverage of the championships are most probably accessible through the below YouTube channel:

Bienwald Backyard Ultra 2022

Ok. I think I like the format. Although far away in terms of running capabilities (the experts tend to have a way higher basic running speed and are thus able to enjoy longer rest periods) and not quite fitting to my non-competitive mentality while running – backyard running has something appealing. With its unique rhythm, its simplicity and its strong structure it calms and slows down every stress and is able to create its own small universe. A universe where nothing else matters then to follow the flow and wait. Wait for something from which you at the beginning do not exactly know what it may. An interesting experience.

To wait is something I more and more value while running longer distances – something which is often described to be something bad or boring or is considered to be a waste of time. During long distance running to wait for me is the essential part – an underlying feeling which is able to compensate for short term exhaustion, or the usual ups and downs and good and bad moments. Something to find comfort in and to hold on to.

It was my first Bienwald Backyard Ultra and brought me into contact to a lot of new faces (as I only rarely run races in Germany) and it was really worth the drive-down. A huge shoutout to Michael, his family, friends and to the whole TSV Kandel team. Great place to race, amazing support, great checkpoint (Pommes 24/7) and a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

#coke

Suddenly, 28h after race start, I was in a situation I was really unprepared for: second last man standing. Only the two of us were running. There were plenty of reason why I decided (what a strange situation to be able to decide when the race would stop) to not run beyond 29 yards. It just felt right and I am really happy to be able to assist Norman to the well-deserved silver ticket – he will be undoubtedly a great representative in the German national team for the Backyard championships this October.

One day I may try this format again to try to go further and try to really play this game to the end. Whatever this may mean.