2023

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.

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.

TorTour de Ruhr 2016-2022

It is not my style of running and it is not my favorite type of track either. It is flat, it is sometimes boring, it is exhausting and demanding. Most horrible is: there is no excuse for a little walk and chat – TTdR is all in: from minute one until the end.

But there is something shining in #RAL2004 at the very end of it which pulls us down that river. There is something attractive and magic about this race. A huge part of it is for sure the amount of dedication the RD, his team and all the volunteers at these great CPs put into the these two days. Another part is the mandatory crew – although lonely you are never alone and you do not run that race for you alone – you run it for your crew as well. You definitely want to reach that very last 1000 m from where you can see the orange block of steel with and for all of them. The moment you know it was worth the effort. The moment of peace and relieve between Ruhr and Rhein.

3 attempts, 3 distances, 3 finishes – time to say thank you – time to say goodbye!

2016 – first 100 miles!
2018 – 230k – longest distance at that time!
2022 – 100k PB!

Ultra Family?

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.

Trying to DNF@STUNT100 2018. Did not work out at the end. Had to realize that I was not focused enough – once I realized this (after two cups of coffee at this supply point) I had no other option but to continue.

JUNUT50 2022

Das JUNUT Wochenende, wie wir es uns gewünscht hätten, ist leider nicht Realität geworden. Trotzdem haben wir die 50 km bis zum Ausbruch des Rennens inmitten eines Gewitters sehr genossen. Durchaus herausfordernde Bedingungen mit Dauerregen und Gewitter forderten volle Konzentration. Nicht unbemerkt blieb aber eine sehr schöne Strecke mit tollen Aussichten auf Altmühl und Donau und ihren Burgen und Schlössern.

In der schnellen Gruppe eingeteilt war uns eigentlich vorher klar, dass wir schnell Letzte im Rennen sein würden und das war eine interessante Erfahrung. Trotz Wetter lagen wir gut in unserem Zeitplan der uns durch die Cut-offs bringen sollte.

So blieb es bei 50 km in einer schönen Gegend und mit zwei mit Herzblut betriebenen und wunderbar ausgestatteten VPs – vielen Dank dafür!

*** LIVE – JUNUT239 2022 – LIVE ***

After a few weeks with almost no running it is time to spend some time outdoors again.

Time to strive – time to live remote.

We will be in Bavaria running the JUNUT – the first time for me to run down there. Follow this post for pictures, updates and the below link for the usual dot watching.

Start = Friday 1500 – Cutoff = Sunday 1530, 48.5 h for 239k and 7k D+

An overview on cutoffs and general timing:

https://junut2022.legendstracking.com

Das Rennen wurde nach 6h bei Gewitter abgebrochen.