Tired of Running

There are sometimes phases in which running (especially long-distance-running) seems to be so far away that you slowly really disconnect from that world. Finally retired from that bullshit with no way back. Either it is because of injury, other things in life which need all of your time or a long down period from a previously encountered great victory/huge defeat (its really the same in long-distance-running).

In the beginning it’s a weird feeling: you open e.g. Strava, one of the (un)social networks or your Garmin Connect app and everyone – EVERYONE – is running like hell. And this does not feel nice. All of them (some of them are even your friends) are so strong and running long distances as if it is nothing. Again and again. Meanwhile you sit at home looking into the dark night outside unsure if it is regret or relief that you are not out there with them. Then you silently close down the live tracking page, switch off your PC and go to bed.

With a little bit more time into your new running-free life this heavy weight lifts a bit. You start to feel better and are happy for them who are running. You are able to applaud again, cheer with them and even support them while they follow their running dreams. Further and faster – beyond all boundaries. But this is no longer your mission.

When you stumble over your running shoes or your running gear you sometimes have to smile a little. A faint smile from far, far away. What infinite amount of hours you used all that stuff. All those dark and painful nights, all those shivering beginnings/ends of days where you felt like the tiniest and weakest particle of dust in this huge universe. Good that this is the past. Good that this is over.

But is it?

What if …? – what if you open your database one last time and check for that one track you drew ages ago and never ran? Just look at the GPX. Remember how you created this file. What a fool you have been back then. How could you honestly think that these connected dots would make a nice adventure? How could you think they really matter?

Somehow these unanswered questions also do not feel great. Quite the contrary.

And now?

Lights in the dark.


No matter how exciting it felt at the beginning – at the end all reduces to very little.

It starts with excitement, with joy and with hustle and bustle. The connection with the surrounding and the fellow runners is intense. It feels like a big journey and a great adventure. Lots of discussions go along with lots of laughter. What a great experience. What a gift to be out there together.

Despite this promising start everyone is well aware that this status will not last. It must end as it consumes too much energy and wasting energy is a dangerous thing. Discussions and laughter begin to fade – replaced by increasing periods of calm and monotone running.

The final step to focus is the disconnection from any external influences. One after the other the bands to the „normal“ world need to be losen and finally cut. It is a decision to let go of everything else and the decision to concentrate and focus on the one thing: to go on. Similar to the focus of the headlamp in a moonless night which reduces every existence to a small colourless and 2-dimensional spot: this final step means to enter a place within yourself where no disturbances from the outside can reach you. It is a unique place and only yourself can enter it. All decisions are now directed to the one goal. The sooner one reaches that state the better. It preserves from worrying too much and the strong focus allows no doubts. The still existing troubles are quiet for a while. They will for sure come back and the focus will fade again but it is important to understand that it is possible to go back there at any time. It comes with experience and is improved by practice. It needs a certain kind of mental strength but is worth every effort:

Loops do not matter anymore.
Weather does not matter anymore.
Distance does not matter anymore.
Hopelessness does no matter anymore.

Finishing does.

Navigation Masterclass #1

We ended up in quite some discussions about GPS navigation lately and we think it is time to share our knowledge and to provide help and guidance. This is the first navigation masterclass and todays lesson is:

#1 Zoom levels

If you use a handheld GPS navigation device (lets just assume you recognized your smartphone is not the best device for these kind of things) to navigate during your trainings and races, there is always one screen occupied by something which looks like a map (we shall talk about maps during one of the next lessons). These maps tend to have something like a thin line with one or a few numbers on top of it in one of the corners of the screen. Some people call these lines „scale“. Scales are an old-fashioned kind of thing. People in the 80s already used them on papery things while trying to orientate. As „scale“ is not a really fancy name we will use the name zoom levels during this navigation masterclass. This lesson will be a short one as there is really little to know about zoom levels. If you want to follow a GPS track on your handheld GPS navigation devices, the following simple and straight forward list will help you to finally understand the numbers coming with the different zoom levels. Just adjust the map on your device to the level you like most and start your run:

  • 0-50 meters – the disco-mode: You are young and speedy? You like dancing dots? You are a rebel and do not want to follow the already beaten paths? This is totally your zoom level. Always on the edge, fascinating to watch, thrilling to use. This is by the way the only level which really benefits from the amazing accuracy GPS-navigation provides!
  • (50-120 meters: Do not use this zoom level. This is for boring and weak people. It may actually help you but believe us: you really don’t want to be someone like this.)
  • 120-1000 meters – the „expert“ level: Oh, yes. Close to perfection. This zoom level is extremely helpful. It provides an overview but still feels close to what is going on. You are a real expert. You are far too skilled in navigation to pay attention to all the little details – you care more about bigger picture. Well done! The world needs more people like you. Lead the way!
  • above 1000 meters – total control-mode: OMG! Amazing. Really! This level is bullet-proof. You will always be on track. Nothing can go wrong. What you should do: help others who are not using this zoom level. Make. Navigation. Great. Again.
  • the what-you-see-is-what-you-get-mode: Zoom out until you see the whole track on your screen. This will protect you from nasty surprises. You will always know where you are and how far to go. Attention: This works best during race/training loops longer than 100 miles. If you happen to run on a shorter track you may want to use on of the zoom-levels below.
  • the home-is-the-safest-place-on-earth-mode: Zoom out until you see your hometown. The whole town. It provides comfort – especially during the dark and challenging hours of your race. You will always feel close to home and this will enable you to run even further! Attention: This works best if you are more than 500 km away from your hometown. If you happen to run a race which is closer to your hometown you may want to use one of the zoom-levels below.
  • the Forrest-Gump-mode: Zoom out until you see (at least) two of the big oceans on this planet. One should be left and one should be right of your position. Got it? – great. It may take a while for your GPS device to display the map but this is simply due to the fact that the best things always take time. Make sure to not forget to turn around once a while. All is well.
  • the the-racedirector-said-the-course-is-well-marked-mode: switch your GPS navigation device off. It safes energy and protects the earth from global warming. Follow the markings. Do not accept any advices. Good luck!

You are welcome. Spread the rumours – share the knowledge! See you at the finish line. Or not. Stay tuned for further navigation masterclasses!

Final Countdown 2019

It will be the end of an interesting year 2019: only 4 days and a few hours on this final countdown. What is announced as to be „just the best Christmas party“ will be a 100 Mile race in Belgium. And whatever they say: those are never easy.

It will be extremely dark with a dark start at 4 a.m. on Saturday, a few brighter hours and probably/hopefully a finish before the sun comes up the second time. Plus, if the weather forecast is not lying: it will be pretty wet too.

Good to know that I will be with M. again. We spend a nice time together during The Great Escape and learned how to survive while time is ticking.

One last effort to finish Ultra number 4 in 2019 and to finish run number 2 in the Legends Trails Grand Slam. Bring it on – stay tuned for the live-tracking link!

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.




KM162 (no-coke-face)


***LEO180 2018 live***


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/


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