#iceberg42 2021

The idea was born and grew within several chats on various platforms during the 2020 summer – impossible to nail it down to one single conversation. It had something to do with: we still need a fourth run for our challenge – let’s do something with loops – what about a bit of elevation gain? At the end The Iceberg track was born. It was a co-production of acceptnolimits.eu and pfadsucher.com which more and more turns into a fruitful collaboration.

The Iceberg

If you wonder about the name „Iceberg“ of the run – well, that is a different story. To be told one day. Maybe. Different platforms show different values on the actual track lengths but we agreed to make it 100 mi. At the end (during the race) we decided that this means 42 loops.

Hard to describe the running itself. At the beginning (first 5-8 loops) it was really enjoyable. You run up and then down again where you find your car parked and packed with all the supply you would possible need. And then you do that again. And again.

And again.

Slowly but surely you enter in a different dimension of time and meaning. There are two numbers you keep an eye on: loop time of the current loop and the total loop count (at the beginning you count up, at the end you count down). Everything else vanishes behind a blurry curtain. Because nothing else matters. To continue is the key, no matter what. The focus on the loop was extreme after a while. Every step felt like automatic. At the end you look on a root or a stone or a puddle in the focus of your headlamp and know immediately if you better use your right or your left foot, where exactly you need to place your poles and how much strength you need to manage that step. An extraordinary level of details are burned-in your head.

Really difficult to describe. We had all kind of weathers (expect snow) and the course really suffered. At the end it was a muddy, slippery, horrible steep something we were climbing up and down again and again. What keeps you moving? I heard different explanations during these two days in Coo but you need to find your own answer by trying to finish. If you manage to find something that pushes you enough you may be one of the happy few lunatics.

After 41h and 27m it was done. 168 km (my GPS jumped somewhere) and 11.213 m of elevation gain. An interesting experience. Thanks to all who finished, tried to and supported – it was a really intense 48h time period on this parking lot in Coo and we will tell the story a lot in the future. Next time we go there we better visit the theme park over there and take the ropeway to visit the tower. Or we directly jump to the part of drinking a beer together.

Here are some runalyze.com exports of the run data:

A nice description of the loop included in the race report of Marek can be found here.

25% done.

Trail-Art – Legends Tracking Artists
Iceberg42 2021 Finishers

No. Coke.

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:

Legendary No-Coke!

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.

M&M around KM364 at LT500

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!

LEO180 ´19 – vakantie in Brabant

Everything started back in November 2016 not with running but with watching the live tracking website of LEOs first edition. I am not sure why and how I came across this link but it was a lucky coincidence. Back in 2016 I was amazed and afraid while watching two lonely dots moving like forever through what seemed to be endless sections of nothing. This should have been a warning..

LEO180 2019
12 of us ready to Start. 36 h and 210 km ahead.

3 years later we are sitting on a table somewhere in Goirle near Tilburg, Noord-Brant, the Netherlands. Martino (2nd place finisher) just left and Maarten, Marek, Björn and me are enjoying a moment of peace and silence. It is 1800 on the first Sunday in November which means the LEO is over. It was again one of the rather busy weekends for all four of us. Although we only see us at the LEO weekends once every year we share a similar idea on how running should be organised and celebrated. This is a good feeling and we use the rare time to discuss a bit. Everything went well with LEO this year so the organisational pressure on M&M is (almost) gone: they dragged out those who could not finish, they celebrated those who were able to survive and the last runner out there should also make it to the finish 2 hours later. The last burger patties are ready to eat. Everything is as it should be. Time to widen the view from this weekend into the future. We discuss the next LEO editions. The good news is: the challenge will continue for those who dare and are fast but there may also be a soft option for those who are slow and winy. Although LEO is held in great irony and fun with a lot of joking and laughing the whole LEO family (runners, orga, supporter) knows deep inside that it is a real challenge for most humans. In our discussion we end up with the question why so few survived this year and what the reason(s) for that might have been. One of the good things with LEO is that there is no final answer to that. LEO may be one of the events where it is better if you are 101% into it – 100% may not be enough. But who knows what battle everyone fought out there. It is your problem if you go out there. You may get random help but basically you have to make sure that your plan is good enough to bring you back.

For Björn and me as participants the task was much easier compared to M&Ms orga stress. Our discussion a few days before the LEO was short. From our point of view there were two reasonable options on how to run the loops in terms of direction and order – we discussed it shortly and made a decision. All we then had to do was what we always do before any of our longer runs: prepare the Garmins, pack the backpacks with an awful lot of self-made food (I also brought some gels which turned out to be a wise decision) and enjoy the surroundings while running. The first two loops formed an 8 of 100 km total distance and we aimed for 7 km/h. We reached the CP close to 2000 – perfect in plan.

We gave ourself one hour to relax. Restart for the last 110 km loop at 2100 with 21 hours time to finish it. The first 40 km of this loop (km 100-140 for us) slowed us down. I could not maintain the 7-8 km/h speed from the first 100 km. From slowing down we got more tired and really cold. The nice ultra run night problem – the interesting part was about to begin. Some tougher hours followed on what is probably the easiest and fastest part of the track – such a waste when walking on asphalt. So we tried to sleep. A few times. With different levels of comfort, durations and cleverness. The last time we did that between 0530 and 0600 helped at the end and we learned a bit more on what makes sense and what does not regarding outside sleeping. But: what happens out there stays out there. Our last hope was the sunrise. We started with giving us rules not to be broken. Not to quit while it is dark was the first one (this one is a really essential one). When it was bright again we had to deal with a section full of sand and small ups and downs. Awful after 150 km with hurting feet and the need to maintain a steady pace. So next rule: do not quit in the Dunes (Björn is probably one of the worlds leading experts in terms of that). We managed it somehow.

And from that on timing was the absolute highest priority. I never did this mental game of running against the clock with this precision. Björn started a „game“. 10 h until cutoff, 57 km to go = 5.7 km/h. The two rules of our game were: run each hour 6 km and then walk the rest of the hour as a break. If you don’t manage this 6 km in 55 min: pause/walk the remaining 5 mins anyway. I had heard from people doing these kind plans but never did it myself. I really hated it in the beginning but realized slowly that if I focus on it and accept it provides a frame for that meaningless and endless moving – something to believe in. So game one. It really worked out in the end. Minimum was 5.5 km in one hour (there were some rather uneven parts of nature to pass) but there were a lot of 6 km hours in and a few of them even above that. We played for 8 hours.

LEO180 2019
The 6 km/h game – started around 150/160 km. If one takes the average to look at it looks pretty precise.

Slowly but surely I realized that it may work to stay in time. Would it be really possible to finish this complicated beast? At 1600 with 2 hours time and around 8 km to go the relief finally came. Nothing but serious injuries would stop us know. What an amazing moment. With 53 minutes left we finished the 210 km LEO180 2019 edition. The bear (DNF) was closer in comparison to last year and it at least felt like that this was not only the extra 10 km. The fight against the time in this dimension and determination was new to me. Thanks to Björn for the idea and the strict rules.

It is time to say goodbye again and to leave the warm table in our cosy race HQ (thanks for opening the door for us this weekend) – „the Germans“ are leaving. Everyone is tired – rest and recovery is urgently needed. It was again an intensive but beautiful weekend in Noord-Brabant. The challenge is completed for now. This years LEO results to be found here and here. Racereports will be posted here.

There will be a new challenge one day that is for sure. Maybe with us, maybe without. We somehow closed our LEO chapter this year:

Björn finished the 190 km edition in 2017 while I was dropping out at 140 km without a good reason

LEO180 2017 – 190 km

… I finished the 200 km version in 2018 alone while Björn was injured …

LEO180 2018 – 200 km

… and we came back this year to finally do it together. Really grateful for this achievement!

LEO180 2019 – 210 km

Our longest distance together under these conditions (which are our most favourite ones: half self-support, alone, not marked, remote, beautiful and brutal) – isn’t this a nice ending for a story?

It was a pleasure, LEO180! Wat een mooie stuk haardlopen – bedankt en tot ziens!

Photocredits to Maarten and Olav – thanks a lot!

Der Weg zurück – DCURbN 2017

Was haben wir uns dabei gedacht? 2016 waren wir doch schon da und sind sogar angekommen. Irgendwann muss auch mal genug sein. Oder? Warum steigt man in diesen Zug von Aachen nach Den Helder, nimmt 4 mal Umsteigen auf sich? An einem schönen Freitagabend, wo es sicher zahllose Dinge zu tun gäbe? Vor den Zugfenstern wird es immer dunkler und kälter. Die Mitreisenden werden langsam immer weniger, je weiter es nach Norden geht. In Den Helder angekommen, scheinen sämtliche Gäste des ICs Läufer zu sein. Schnell in die Kneipe gegenüber des Bahnsteiges und ins Warme. Die letzte Stunde vor dem Aufbruch. Professionell wie immer bereiten wir uns und unser Equipment vor:

Dabei werden wir immer noch ein wenig wie die Exoten behandelt die wir sicher sind. Diese Deutschen… mit dem Zug… um nachts am Strand zu laufen…! Fühlt sich richtig an. Mittlerweile waren wir schon bei einigen Veranstaltungen in unserem sehr geschätzten Nachbarland und man erkennt uns wieder. Viele freuen sich wirklich uns zu sehen. Das fühlt sich um so besser an!

Und dann ist es fast Zeit. Kurz vor 22 Uhr an diesem Freitag im Januar soll es also wieder beginnen. Dieser außergewöhnliche Lauf.

Über das was unterwegs wirklich geschah, sei nicht viel gesagt. Diese 60 km Sand, diese 15 km Hafen und die letzten 25 km in den Dünen. Es bleibt ein so einzigartiges Erlebnis. Ein Lauf von der Theorie her so einfach und monoton und doch so brutal auf seine Weise. Ausgeliefert dort draußen. Zu zweit allein mit sich. Stundenlanges Rauschen der Wellen, dann das Brummen des Hafens und dann am Ende auf der 25 km Trailrunde durch die Dünen endlich Ruhe. Nach über 10 Stunden so überwältigend. Die tolle Natur mit ihrer kräftezehrenden Weite. Es bleibt fantastisch und unwirklich zugleich.

Es verlangt irgendwie mehr als sonst auf jedem Kilometer, aber es fühlt sich auch besser an. Aus diesen Dünen kommt man anders zurück als man hineingelaufen ist. Die totale Erschöpfung und diese schöne Landschaft… Es ist als seien ein paar Fragen beantwortet worden, auf die schwer eine Antwort zu finden ist. Wenn dich diese Dünen wieder ausspucken, dieser Hafen dich ziehen lässt und dich der unendliche Strand mit seinen nie näher kommenden Lichter nicht geschafft hat, bist du ganz bei dir. Absolut am Ende zwar, aber doch ok mit dir.

Die Gerüchte, dass dies der letzte DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight war lassen wir unkommentiert. Genau wie die Gerüchte nach dem Lauf, man würde darüber noch mal nachdenken. Wir verneigen und bedanken uns bei den Organisatoren, den Supportern und den Läufern. Der Lauf hat seinen eigenen Spirit. Wenn nachts neben dir ein Auto hält und du gefragt wirst, ob alles gut ist – wunderbar. Auch wegen und trotz der ganzen lieb gemeinten Frotzeleien: es freut uns sehr, dass wir zweimal dabei sein durften. Mit den beiden Finishs haben wir euer Vertrauen hoffentlich zurück gezahlt. Wir fühlen uns ein ganz klein wenig als Teil eurer Familie und ist ein gutes Gefühl.

Auf bald und bedankt, die Deutschen.


Die eisige Eifel und der Biber

Jedes NEUe Jahr bringt direkt am zweiten Sonntag eine nette (argh…) Tradition in die Nordeifel. Eine überdurchschnittlich vernünftige Teilmenge vereinsamter und mehr oder weniger erfahrener Ultraläufer der näheren Umgebung versammelt sich um 09:00 Uhr in der Früh auf dem Annakirmesplatz in Düren. Empfangen vom Ein-Mann-Organisationsteam bestehend aus 3 Personen (unserem Organisator und Dompteur sowie zwei liebe Menschen, die sich gern den Tag mit Autofahren und Kaffee ausschenken um die Ohren schlagen), geht es pünktlich auf die altbewährte 56 km-Strecke. Diesmal gab es ob des Eises auf der ersten Hälfte der Strecke mal wieder spannende NEUe Bedingungen. Alle insgesamt 13 NEUlinge hatten gehörigen Spaß in den Eishängen der NE. Bis auf einen. MacGuyver (aka. der Flussläufer) bastelte sich schnell aus Teilen seiner Ausrüstung Schneeketten für die Trailschuhe und minimierte damit sein Rutschvergnügen beträchtlich. Die zweite Hälfte der Strecke war dann meist eisfrei und auch der Nieselregen vom Vormittag verzog sich. Die wie immer fantastische Betreuung ließ das Laufen einfach vom Fuß gehen. Fast wähnte man sich bei einem dieser sich der Serviceverbesserung verschriebenen, dem Trailrunning-Hype folgenden Schickimicki-Fun-Extrem-Hindernis-Spektakeln. Ne, Scherz.

Sonst ist das Schöne am NEU die Gelegenheit mit vielen höchst unterschiedichen Leuten einmal ausgiebig zu reden, zu fachsimpeln, zu planen und zu genießen. Über die Jahre gewinnt man natürlich auch eine etwas NEUe und entspanntere Sichtweise auf die Dinge, die bei einem 56 km-Lauf im Winter passieren könnten und das erhöht den Genuss eben dieser Dinge, dem Kontakte pflegen, dem NEUe Kontakte aufbauen, dem Freundschaften vertiefen und dem Genießen einfach dort draußen im eisigen Nebel der NE unterwegs sein zu können ungemein.

Verbeugen und bedanken wollen wir uns vor Stefan samt Familie für den Lauf und die Betreuung – einmalig super, für uns schon zum vierten Mal. Wir freuen uns auch besonders mit dem Teil des LTB Aachen der uns beide begleitet hat und für den es die erste Berührung mit einem Event dieser Art und in einem Fall auch der weiteste Lauf jemals gewesen ist. Chapeau!

Bilder von uns gibt es hier und hier. Bilder von Stefan hier und natürlich sein wie immer famoses und sehr empfehlenswertes Video inkl. Bonusmaterial von Justin dem Biber.

Das NEUe Jahr hat jedenfalls sehr gut angefangen.

out there

In Gedanken im Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, USA. Über die sozialen Medien wurde heute verbreitet, dass es nach keinem Finisher in 2015, im Jahre 2016 wieder einen Läufer gibt, der es tatsächlich geschafft hat. Jared Campbell ist zudem der erste Finisher der es 3 Mal geschafft hat. Es bleibt eine unfassbare Leistung.

Der Kampf eines jeden Teilnehmers dort erinnert daran, dass es wichtig ist die eigenen Grenzen sehr genau einschätzen zu können, dass es keinen Grund braucht sich auf eine unmögliche Reise zu begeben und das es keine Schande ist, das Unmögliche zu verfehlen.

To be out there just because you thought it might be a brilliant idea is the key on the way to find happiness.