LEO180 2018 – a walk in a park!

The start.

Still not sure what to write on this page. Whenever I think on all the million things which happened between start and finish line emotions overcome me. Problem with LEO180 is: whatever I would write on how it feels to be out there it would still be so far away from how it really is… As facts never lie (although some of them tend to be alternative theses days) they might be the best starting point for an overview.

  • Distance & time limits: 2018´s LEO180 was a 200 km long race with a time limit fo 36 hours. As it takes place in the middle of the Netherlands there is hardly any vertical gain worth mentioning. There are two cutoff points along the way. Not to be mean to you as a runner but to tell you: if you don’t make these cutoffs your chances for the 36 h finish are less than zero.
  • Starters / finishers: 11 runners made it to the start line – 5 proved to be able to finish the race (45 %)
  • Official aid: There were two official spots with support at km 66 and km 99 (last one with drop back). At these points there was everything a runner might need
  • Aid along the way: in addition to that I refilled water at km 36 (restaurant), bought water and coke at km 56 (supermarket), refilled water and drank some coke at km 150 (some bottles at a parking lot) and had coke and an ice pack for my left foot at km 170 (restaurant). I carried all I ate in my two back packs (changed them at the km 99 CP). And I ate of course  as much as I could at the CP at km 66 and km 99
  • The track: no need to say that there is no course marking – you have to rely on your GPS navigation. You are not allowed to accept any help unless it is offered by the race directors. You are allowed to use restaurants/supermarkets on the way as long as you find them and they are open. You are not allowed to leave the track. There were some parts and spots we were advised on what is allowed there during the race briefing before the start. This was due to some „special“ features of that areas

That is pretty much everything. Sounds fair and easy. Piece of cake. Basically a walk in a park.

The end.

Well. All of this does not explain anything. Some few more words may help.

First of all – the track: I will not go into detail about special locations and areas. For multiple reasons. If you want to know the details you have to register, you should be prepared for the worst and try to go through by yourself. Good luck. The track basically is the secret and the DNA of the LEO180 and means everything. It is the most important player in that game. LEO180 starters tend to be a quite experienced field of crazy runners. 200 k on a flat terrain in 36 h is something most of these runners consider to be fair and easy. A look at the finisher list tells a different story. On the LEO180 track one crosses endless areas of beautiful nature. Really stunning. One finds quite a lot of areas with a lot of sand – this year e.g. a high dune was part of the track. The view from up there was just amazing. There are also really nice trails, beautiful forest parts and some open fields. So: where is the problem? Nothing prepares you for the litte details of all of that. There are fences to climb, there are tiny ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs, a few technical trails, whenever you think you finished a demanding part – it continues, whenever you feel the relieve that the sand is over your foot sinks in the next part of sandy ground. All this little details make you feel slow. You spend what you think are hours in such an area and your GPS tells you it was only 5k and not even the half of that part. It slowly but surely gets more and more demanding. On one point the joy you feel because of the beauty goes hand in hand with the overwhelming vastness of that area(s) and the question in your head: how will I stand more 10k in this? And there are still more than 100k to go. On one point you can not stand the beauty of the nature around you any more. It is just too much. Not doable. There is you alone, there is the line on your GPS and you are forever trapped in that funny game of follow that line. This post is entitled with „a walk in a park“. Some may not be familiar with the reference and there is no need to change that. But to put a few things right: the LEO180 is often a walk but there is nothing nice about that. Feels more like a tedious and demanding rat race compared to that Sunday afternoon thing a lot of people do. And that park…  I am not sure if „park“ is the right word. The hell of Brabant might be a better description. At the end the LEO180 proves to be not exactly as easy as it looks like at the first glance.

Before: It was a very beautiful weekend. Half of the runners arrived at the start location on Friday evening. A big map of what was waiting was pinned to the wall and Martino and Juan brought Belgian beer. Lots of joking and laughing all evening. Went for some few hours sleep around midnight. Somehow these beers felt strong. Who would look at the bottles to check for the alc content :D. Serious race preparation.

During: The first hours in the race felt ok. The morning was cold, but the body still fresh. The first serious sand part between 35 and 45 was demanding. I really enjoyed a coke at the km 56 supermarket and made it to the km 66 check point. 3rd place runner Alex was just leaving after heaving a break and we could shake hands. Both of us knew we would meet at a later point. And indeed we met 8-9k before the halfway checkpoint somewhere out there and made it together to the drop back/burger/warm cloth/jokes point at km 99. Thanks for the amazing checkpoint and especially for the burgers! 14 hours in the race, 99 km done. First cutoff done. We left the check point together. The LEO180 was about to start after that point. With the cold and long night and with one of the most difficult part of the track ahead. We soon after ran through a huge halloween party in a small forest. Lots of dressed people. We had a chat with a horror clown. What a great start to that second half. My first low point was reached thereafter upon entering the terrain. Alex can walk like 7 km/h and I could run around 7.5 km/h. We were together and apart at the same time. I had at that point a weak stomach, problem with the GPS and first mental weaknesses. The bear was present from that point on. Alex had lots of problems with pain in several body parts and we suffered together, mostly quiet. To not be alone was still a huge thing at that point. And with Alex on my side, who is the most positive thinking person I know, I managed to hold on moving. Around that point the #2 runner in the field had to give up racing leaving me and Alex in second and third place. Slowly I was overcoming the first low and started a slow jog. Sorry to leave you with your mess Alex. But we agreed that we have to both our thing – to whatever end this would lead. Sticking together for some time is nice but is hardly impossible for a really long time. I felt really good during km´s 120-140. Normally I am not good during that part of the night but this time it was fine. After km 140 it was tough again but I knew reaching km 150 would mean some water bottles and coke on a lonely parking lot. That kept me moving. After roughly 24 h I reached that point and was crashed. My left food swollen and hurting, the coldest point of the night, still 50k to go, still dark, no humans, no cars. How can one stand situations like that. I sat what felt like an hour on a piece of wood and drank some coke. This would be a nice place for a DNF. I decided to at least try to run some kilometres to check how the pain would be. And I really wanted to see the sun again while I am still in the race. To overcome the darkness. I met the race directors 9 km before the km 170 restaurant. Great mental support and an empty coke bottle. Seriously guys? Thanks for telling me you would not pick up my DNF phone call and that I should just finish. Great advice. It felt like the end again at that point. Meaningless suffering. Still more than 30k to go. I somehow managed to reach the restaurant. Sitting at that bar was interesting. All the families having Sunday morning breakfast. They had an ice pack for my double-sized foot and a coke. I went trough the last hours, the long way to reach that point, all the good and the horrible moments. It did not felt right to give up. Standing up and walking was almost impossible at that point but I left the restaurant. 30k left. 8 hours left. Being a runner with a lot of emotions I just tried to somehow move. Tears in my eyes. I started to envision the finish. How might it be to really make it? Must be nice. Even better than nice. But how? To be alone with me and the music for another 6 hours? But to leave at the second place with „only“ a bit more than a half marathon left? No way. I could not face moving on and at the same time could not stand to not finish.

I can not tell you how and I probably never will: but I made it.

200k – 33:30h – #2

 

At the end the LEO180 needed way more mental strengths and energy I have in me. But on this last 30k I finally understood a few things about ultra running. If you ask the toughest ultra runner on earth for advises he/she will tell you a lot of handy things which will help you a lot during a race like the LEO180. What this person will not be able to help you with is what happens beyond that point you „gave up“. One has to reach that point  oneself and experience that there is something to be found which keeps you going although no movement is possible. I finally found that point and made through to the other side. I had to realise the hard way that non of the problems I had at that moment vanishes on that other side but there was that last piece of hope present. What a fight against myself. Whenever I will enter „acceptnolimits“ to my browser in the future I will not only find a vary nice website but will no what this expression means.

After: thanks to Maarten and Marek, all runners present that weekend and all others helping crewing/supporting. It really means a lot to me to be able to finish that one. The challenge is way harder than a lot of other races of similar distances. But you know that already. Thanks a million to all the dot-watcher, WA-supporter, FB-commenter and SMSer. To read encouraging things helped a lot while trying to move on. Judging your reactions you had quite some fun following these tiny dots on this nice map. Thanks to especially Maarten but also all the other for all the nice pictures from out there.

KM42

KM66

KM99

KM162 (no-coke-face)

KM200

***LEO180 2018 live***

***http://leo180-2018.legendstracking.com/***

A normal Saturday morning somewhere in the Netherlands. Random people with headlamps around. Time to start this weekends adventure of 200k ultra running. Semi self-supported. 36 hours time to finish that damn thing.

 

„Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?“

Gimli // LOTR


200k/36h/12 runners – http://www.acceptnolimits.eu/events/leo/

***http://leo180-2018.legendstracking.com/***

LEO 180 2018 – 200k – 36h

Der LEO180 2018 steht an. 200 km, 36 h Zeit, ca. 11 Läufer.

  • Wie bereitet man sich auf etwas vor, für das es nichts Vergleichbares gibt?
  • Wie gewinnt man 36 Stunden draußen sein im November etwas Positives ab?
  • Wie bereitet man sich auf diese Sand-Passagen vor?
  • Wie bitte packt man den Rucksack so, dass nur alles wirklich Notwendige dabei ist?
  • Wie geht man damit um sich freiwillig einer immer mehr zunehmen Kälte auszusetzen?
  • Wie soll man starten, wenn man weiß, dass es ein Kampf gegen die stetig in die Glieder kriechende Müdigkeit wird?
  • Wieso starten, wenn man weiß, dass die Knochen immer steifer und schmerzhafter werden. Und das schon auf der ersten Hälfte?
  • Wieso geht man freiwillig in eine 14-Stunden-Dunkelheit?
  • Wie kommt man mit der Einsamkeit in der Natur zurecht?
  • Wie soll man es nur all die Zeit allein mit sich aushalten?
  • Wieso schlägt man diese von Anfang an schon so aussichtslose Schlacht?

Es gibt keine vernünftigen Antworten auf all diese Fragen. Bis auf die eine Antwort. Die von Gimli aus dem Herrn der Ringe. Dort sagt er im entscheidenden Moment die einzig passenden Worte:

„Den Tod als Gewissheit – geringe Aussicht auf Erfolg – worauf warten wir noch?“

Ab Samstag 0600: http://leo180-2018.legendstracking.com

Genug ist genug – Teil 1 (Throwback LEO180 2017)

If you don’t beat him you don’t deserve that beer!

Eine Straße. Endlich. Ein kurzer Blick nach links: 2-3 Häuser recht weit weg. Rechts ist überhaupt nichts zu sehen. Überhaupt ist es recht kalt und dunkel. Liegt vielleicht daran, dass es ungefähr 0300 am Morgen ist. Im November. Leichter Regen hat eingesetzt und es sind gefühlt 3 Grad Celsius.

Das soll reichen. Der SOS-Knopf auf der linken Schulter ist schon gedrückt. Die Absprachen schon getroffen. In 10 Kilometern, also ungefähr bei der nächsten Straße wird das Auto stehen.

In den letzten endlosen und letztlich erfolglosen Stunden des Kampfes mit dem eigenen Willen ist einfach zu viel verloren gegangen. Und zwar genug um die Aufgabe einfach genug zu machen. Zu bedrückend die Weite und Leere der Gegend. Zu viel musste schon früh im Rennen mit den Emotionen gearbeitet werden. Und dann ist er da der Punkt an dem alles kalt und leer bleibt. Die Energie aufgebraucht ist. Die kalt-nasse Novembernacht ist ins Herz und in den Kopf gekrochen.

Das alles war im November 2017. Am Ende einer lauftechnisch sehr schlechten Periode für den Pfadsucher. In der Rückschau bleibt das Erlebte sehr eindrucksvoll. Der Lauf und die Strecke haben es von den Bedingungen und Anforderungen einfach in sich. Wie gemacht um dort im Herzen der Niederlande einfach „verloren“ zu gehen. Über allem steht das Motte „It is better to go too far, than not far enough“ – aber es gibt einen Punkt da ist es einfach zu viel.

Wäre diesem Erlebnis nicht ein so gutes erstes Halbjahr 2018 gefolgt, hätte es auch gut das Ende sein können.

Immer schön durch da!

Es kommt immer mal wieder einer dieser Tage, an dem man eine Entscheidung treffen muss. Angesichts des gerade Geschriebenen verbietet sich jede Illusion:

  • das scheint weit weg von möglich oder vernünftig
  • diese Strecke ist so einsam und erscheint dadurch doppelt endlos
  • die Strapazen für Kopf und Körper sind nicht zu unterschätzen
  • die Chance auf ein happy end scheinen verschwindend gering
  • Fazit: unter diesen Bedingungen hat es keinen Sinn!

Auf der anderen Seit muss man im Auge behalten, dass sich an den Bedingungen für die 2018er Edition ein entscheidendes Detail ändern wird: die Strecke wird um 10 km verlängert – bei gleichem Zeitlimit. Daraus ergibt sich:

  • das Tempo muss um 4,64 m/min von 88,46 m/min auf 93,10 m/min gesteigert werden. FAST FÜNF METER – JEDE EINZELNE MINUTE! ÜBER 2000 MINUTEN LANG!
  • ob bei dem Tempo alle Abzweige zu finden sein werden ist mehr als fraglich
  • immerhin werden wir nicht durch weitere offizielle VPs aufgehalten – deren Zahl bleibt bei 1
  • Fazit: ist wie wenn man nen hässlichen Stein umdreht um zu sehen, dass die Unterseite noch hässlicher ist.

Schwere Entscheidung.

New perspective

„And: game change. Like my foot didn’t hurt anymore. If anything like this happens again – bring the needle.“

Karl Meltzer – „Made to be broken“


Ultra track of the day: Placebo – „Meds“

I was alone, falling free
Trying my best not to forget
What happened to us, what happened to me
What happened as I let it slip
I was confused by the powers that be
Forgetting names and faces
Passers by were looking at me
As if they could erase it
Baby, did you forget to take your meds?
[…]
I was alone staring over the ledge
Trying my best not to forget
All manner of joy, all manner of glee
And our one heroic pledge
How it mattered to us, how it mattered to me
And the consequences
I was confused by the birds and the bees
Forgetting if I meant it
Baby, did you forget to take your meds?
[…]

 

About Running

Mit der Zeit verändert sich der Blick auf das Laufen.

Langsam verblassen in der Erinnerung die bangen Stunden vor den ersten langen Distanzen; die Sorgen um das „ist es überhaupt möglich“, um das „an was muss ich alles denken“. Das bedeutet keinesfalls, dass eine saubere Planung für manche Touren nicht auch heute noch essentiell ist und mit viel Sorgfalt begangen wird. Aber es ist weniger hektisch. Die Handgriffe sind routiniert. Der Schrecken der durch äußere Unwägbarkeiten oder individuelle Fehler schnell präsent sein kann, hat etwas an Kraft verloren.

Es ist beim Laufen ein Tempo (wenn auch ein eher gemütliches) und eine Einstellung gefunden, die ein Gegengewicht zu dem körperlichen und seelischen Stress bildet, der mit einem sehr langen Lauf zwangsläufig einhergeht. Zumindest bis zu einem gewissen Grad. In diesem Wohlfühlbereich lassen sich auch lange Distanzen laufen, ohne weit über die gefühlten körperlichen Grenzen gehen zu müssen. Die Regenerationszeit verkürzt sich auf ein Minimum verglichen mit dem, was früher zu erdulden war. Der Tag nach einem 100 km-Lauf ist vom Gefühl her meist schon wieder laufbar. Auch wenn der Drang danach nicht zu groß ist – die seelische Erschöpfung ist nach wie vor vorhanden.

Laufen auf den langen Strecken bleibt ein Bewegen zwischen den Welten. Obwohl manche Distanzen zu Beginn unfassbar weit und unerreichbar scheinen – so ist doch auch irgendwo im Hinterkopf die Gewissheit, dass es gehen könnte. Obwohl die Nächte noch immer endlos sind, wächst ein Vertrauen, dass doch sehr oft die Sonne tatsächlich wieder aufgehen könnte. Es klappt nicht jedes Mal, aber es hat dann doch auch schon einige Male geklappt.

Das Erreichen des Ziels bei lange Laufen ist und bleibt ein Drahtseilakt. Man ist doch immer ein Stück gefangen zwischen guten und schlechten Tagen, guten und schlechten Strategien und Entscheidungen – sowohl in der Vorbereitung als auch im Rennen selbst. Wenn man sich aber für einen Moment auf den Boden legt (wörtlich nehmen sollte man dies nur bei Läufen im Sommer – besonders hervorragend funktioniert dies mit guten Freunden auf dem Külf beim STUNT100) und sich dieses Seil etwas genauer anschaut so sieht man, dass es tatsächlich nicht mehr so dünn erscheint wie es zweifelsohne am Anfang der ganzen Lauferei mal erschien. Es ist zusammengesetzt aus vielen kleinen Fasern, die helfen können Vertrauen in die eigene Kraft und das eigene Leistungsvermögen aufzubauen. Es scheint fast mit jedem absolvierten Balanceakt ein wenig stabiler zu werden. Jede positiv getroffene Entscheidung stärkt, jede negative Situation hilft in mindestens gleichen Maße für die Zukunft. Viel mehr als bei kürzeren Distanzen hilft die so gesammelte Erfahrung und macht zu einem nicht zu unterschätzenden Teil in den entscheidenden Momenten den Unterschied zwischen Scheitern und Ankommen aus.

Viele Ultraläufer berichten vom endlosen Glück, welches hinter dem Schmerz liegt. Von purer Freiheit und dem reinen Flow nach der absoluten Erschöpfung. Davon, dass es ab einem bestimmten Zeitpunkt einfach wieder möglich ist, es laufen zu lassen. Diesen Punkt hat der Pfadsucher noch nicht wirklich gesehen. Vielleicht kommt der Moment eines Tages. Und falls nicht, so tröstet die Gewissheit, dass selbst die längste und schwerste Nacht irgendwann einmal weichen muss und dass der Morgen danach umso schöner sein wird.

Version 2

„The day you stop racing, is the day you win the race“ Bob Marley

´A walk in the park´- DCURbN 2018

I am not exactly sure about that ´walk in the park´-thing. It is correct that we walked some parts of the track – but this park? I mean, seriously? A bit huge for a park in the Netherlands, or? Maybe I just got it wrong? One does always come back with more questions from the Dutch Coast Ultra Run by Night then there were before the run.

Jacky and me took the train from Aachen to Den Helder – tradition is tradition. The whole dutch coast ultra runners arrived and many hands were shaken. When you sign up for such a race for the third time in a row you know a lot of people. Such a nice and warm welcome :). Thank you dutch coast ultra family :)!

One can not say it too often: special thanks to Ferry, Rinus, Ron and all the other helping hands – you do organize a great race and judging the FB reactions I am not the only one with these feelings! When I understood it correctly: there is even a chance for a 2019 edition – perfect. Before the race I was afraid that it might be the last torture this year.

Marc, who thought would run his first ever 75k run, arrived together with his supporter Axel from the north of Germany. The three of us decided to run together as long as it would work out. At 10 o’clock in the evening the race started in Den Helder. I think I don’t have to describe the route too much, as there are plenty of information about that already posted on this blog here, here, here and here. It turned out that our group worked perfectly. We found a pace comfortable for all of us and really enjoyed this perfect night. The conditions were easy: no wind, half-moon, nothingness… We ran for hours at the beach without any light necessary, talking, thinking, laughing and being really tiny at this endless beach. At one point the moon decided to take a bath in the ocean… Some attempted to join our trio, but with most of them the pace didn’t match for a longer time. Especially this one was pretty lazy…

DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km1

After 5:40 hour we arrived at the first real checkpoint at km 50. We enjoyed some minutes in the warmth, had coffee and tea, met Axel and finally decided to continue.

A bit slower we continued with the second part of the race: km 50 to 75 with the long period running in the orange colored habor of Ijmuiden. Always strange to run there. Never sleeping, ever glowing, always under construction – feels like a different planet.

During the last kilometres on our way to checkpoint km 75, Marc did something strange. As if the spirit of the run changed him: he decided to upgrade. Maybe he thought first-time-75-in-his-live would sound even nicer with a 100 in there?! Who knows. With Axel switching from supporting to running and some other racers joining and leaving again we did the last 25k – aka the dunes – in a pack of 5-7 runners.

It was beautiful, stunning, amazing, exhausting, demanding, difficult, hard, never ending, scratchy and it was wet:

DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km10DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km11DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km12DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km13DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km14DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km15DutchCoastUltraRunbyNight.Beach.Dunes.Sand.Ultra.Coast.100 km16

Thanks again Ferry: especially the changes during the last kilometres of the race made us laugh and cry at the same time – amazing selection!

As in 2016 and 2017 it took almost all given time (13:51 h out of 14 h time limit) to finish the Dutch Coast Ultra Run by Night (and day). Although the weather sticked to the ´walk-in-the-park´ motto of this years edition – it remains a challenge to finish. But we made it. And we made it together. It was the third official 100k for Jacky, it was Marcs first 100k ever. And he did it just like that and out of nothing. Not a single complaint. Impressive! His longest distance before was 60something. I still wonder what made him continue at the lovely breakfast location aka km 75/finish.

For me it was DCURbN #3. I did it in 13:01, 13:50 and now 13:51 hours in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Looks like I might not be able to do it a fourth time within the 14 hours time limit…

We will see.

Essen fassen!

Als kleine Auflockerung zwischen all den öden Laufgeschichten – es gibt eine neue Seite im Menü: die über die Jahre gesammelten Rezepte findet Ihr dort endlich vereint. Wir essen bekannter Weise genau so gern wie wir laufen… Am Liebsten machen allerdings beides gleichzeitig. Guten Hunger:

Hier gehts lang!

The other review!

Dear NB-team,

18 month ago I bought a pair of Fresh foam 1080 at „Wat läuft“ in Bochum, Germany. I know you never asked for a review, it is way too late and you probably don´t care. I just thought that my test period was long enough to give you a quick feedback on the performance of this shoe.

It is a really, really comfortable shoe – felt perfect on my foot from the very first step 18 month ago to the (preliminary) last step during today´s run. Except for the really high mountains, I used the shoe on all imaginable kind of terrain. And even where the terrain merged into wilderness – the performance was brilliant. Rocks, heat, water, cold, snow, mud, thorns – it is a true all rounder! Ah yes – the shoe is also good on the street :).

With a tear in my eye I decided today that it is time to use my pair of Fresh foam only on the streets from now on. I think my pair deserves some more easy tasks and kilometers.

To conclude: a really comfortable and perfect fit (at least for me) pair of running shoes. After 3000 km I noticed some weak points (see pictures below). Although the air and water in and out-flow is now way better then before – on really tough trails the foot feels a bit loose newly. But for the first 3000 km everything works perfect. You might want to think about tougher material on the heel part of the shoe?!

Thanks for the shoe – it took me along a lot of really nice runs! Heading for 4000 km now!

Strava

STUNT100 2017 – der Weg zum zweiten Stern

Wir sind dann mal unterwegs beim STUNT100.

Wir freuen uns schon sehr darauf. Der Lauf wird geprägt sein von viel einsamer Zweisamkeit, vor allem aber durch ein super Team am Sportplatz und am Wegesrand. Alle paar KM werden wir wieder empfangen werden als gehörten wir zur Familie. Irgendwann kommt der Punkt an dem wenig gehen wird. Aber in diese Momenten läuft man dann nicht nur für sich, sondern auch für die Menschen, die am nächsten VP warten und sicher traurig wären, wenn man nicht mal auf ein kurzes Gespräch vorbeikommt.

Wir sind vorbereitet:

IMG_1243.JPG

Leider ist Frank dieses Mal nicht dabei – aber irgendwie wollten wir ihn doch mit dabei haben:

IMG_1242

Wir laufen den einfach für dich, lieber Frank.

Auf Live-Updates von uns unterwegs möchte ich verzichten – das Internet im Wald… Und außerdem soll man sich ja auf die Sachen, die man so tut, voll und ganz einlassen. Wird auch sicher nötig sein!

Hier wird es ein paar Live-Updates vom Veranstalter geben!

Auf bald!