If you go for a run and come back with some nice memories… All is well.
What has been a failure last year, came to a happy end this year. KATE180 finally saw her first finishers. A group of 9 runners started off and 8 returned with finishing times between 36 and 45 hours.
The concept of KATE180 was to combine the beautiful and yet challenging area around the Rursee with some well-known tracks in the Hautes Fagnes area and connect both of these areas through nice trails to Aachen – to form a 205 km loop. The little downside of this concept and the actual trails behind is, that the distance of a Marathon on them is already exhausting enough. The second little challenge of running the combination in the proposed direction is, that the difficulty slightly increases by time. The longer you are on your feet the more draining the course gets.
The feedback on the track was satisfying – made for a special type of adventurers it really delivered what was needed for a memorable time out there. Most of the runners had to leave their comfort zone to reach the finish line – and appreciated it.
Luckily a support team consisting of Stefan Vilvo (car support from km 40 to km 100), Inga (car support at km 130) and Rainer (car support at km 162) helped the runners to stay in and fuelled. All runners have been extremely thankful for this amazing support! It has to be noted that the first group of runners (3 of the pack decided to actually run) did not benefit from this amazing support as they have been, well, too fast.
With the finish of KATE180 3 runners of the group also finished the Titanic Slam (finish 4 tracks between Halloween 2020 and Silvester 2021). The rest of the Slam attendees have one or more finishes left with two month time left to complete this little challenge.
A true journey changes those who are brave enough to travel wholeheartedly.
The Duinhopper is a 220 km long GPX track provided by acceptnolimits.eu on the Duinhopper page. It covers the whole coast of the Netherlands between Hoek van Holland and Den Helder. How you organize yourself while running, how you manage this long distance is your problem – there is no further service provided. If you are interested in running this track – get in contact with the guys from acceptnolimits.eu and check out the above mentioned Duinhopper page for reports, hints and videos. The original Duinhopper is meant to be run in the winter time in the months January or February.
While checking possible dates for long distance running weekends in 2021 we found the first weekend of October as one of the few possible options this year. As the Duinhopper is part of a private running challenge the decision on the course was easily made. We decided to keep our appearance on the coast secret until the very start of our run. For the fun and the surprise of it. As mentioned above the DH is normally meant to be run in winter but the challenge allows to differ from that. The final thing to do was logistics planning and it turned out that the best option we found is to park the car in the middle of the course at a train station (from where we could shuttle to the start and take a train back from finish line to the car as well). We decided to use the official parking at Driehuis train station which is 1,2 km off track but good connected via train and at km 120 of 220.
The travel to Driehuis by car and the train transfer to Hoek van Holland was horrible. We lost one hour in the traffic jams around Amsterdam and another hour because of a closed bridge (train just stopped and we had to wait for a transfer bus to the next station to pick-up another train). We finally announced to our running family what we were going to try and hit the start button on all our devices. Game on.
The First Night:
We started on Friday 1st of October at 21:37 – with the 48h time limit we had only one task: to reach the finish in Den Helder on Sunday 3rd of October before 21:37. Sounds like more than enough time considering that it is 220 km run.
We had light rain and some wind – but nothing too horrible. After a few hours the sky became clear and we had great running conditions. Within the first marathon the haven and boulevard of Scheveningen was probably the highlight of the night. Always amazing to enter civilization after hours of dark and calm nature. We made quite good progress and our first 15 min break around km 50 because we were quite tired. But sun was near.
The First Day:
Around km 50 the Dunes became more and more serious. The track does not alway uses existing patches – as with every great adventure: you need to walk your own path if you want to succeed. The sun was rising revealing the surrounding – and no kidding: we were amazed. What a beautiful coast. Km 50-99 cover a variety of different Dune areas – all of them different – all of them beautiful. Sometimes Savanna-like (a wide grassland full of animals) sometimes Sahara-like (sand) and sometimes covered with dwarfs (don’t ask). We had a blast. Not too fresh anymore, not fast but we had good weather and moments of pure unity with nature. We even stopped for the second 15 min break to take a nap in the sun. A dear was lying 5 meters away from us and stayed there as if he wanted to protect (or control) the sleepy Germans.
At the end of this stretch the next most welcomed surprise was waiting for us. Maarten and his car with some supply.
The news of us travelling along the coast was squeezed through the secret channels of the internet (we know we have to thank Maarten for a lot of work behind the scenes) and we were closely watched and supported by an amazing Dutch long distance running family. Maarten met us a second time at around km 103 – sending us on our last part to our car. He even found the time to shoot an amazing drone video:
The Second Night:
We reached the car at km 120 in the dark and in more and more intense rain. Long distance running reality hit us hard. All wet and freezing – changing clothes – repacking backs – trying to dry the feet a bit – eat something – finally a sleep in the warm car. The moment the alarm clock rang was so absurd. Kind of warm and dry sitting in a car looking into what was now clearly more than light rain and wind… In these moments: if you have any doubts don’t speak about it. We both were thinking the same about what would be reasonable to do but consequently did the opposite of it. I think we can agree that we do not want to speak about that second night. Luckily we managed to move a little, luckily the hardest rain and wind stopped after a few hours, luckily we were wise and brave enough to split up (after all these years of running we did this the first time) and luckily even the darkest and wettest night has to end. Even in the hardest moments with your best friend you have to stay rational and make wise decisions. Both of us were fighting different battles – and we did this alone. Pushed by the hope that it would be beneficial for a united finish. At the end of the night we were joined by Addie and Margret and had another section of great support. Can’t thank you enough!
The Second Day:
The first daylight of day 2 revealed the Dunes around Schoorl. A nice hit in the face. And, even more horrible, the last 9 km of real Dunes down to the beach. Exhausted, hopelessness, slightly unconscious and zombie-walking through the endless hills. It. Must. End. So pissed about the Dunes at that moment. But finally – the Beach – and another family member: Francois. Three figures shuffling on the beach. Absurd feeling. Would this endless beach really bring us to Den Helder? Still 38 km to go – long hours of „running“ ahead. But we were still in, we had support and we had hope. We met Francois´ car at km 191 and 204 – great to have something to hold on. It felt like no progress at all sometimes but slowly we were approaching.
We left the beach 12km before the finish line. From now on it would be cycling/walking paths through mild Dunes followed by the last long grass part on the dike of Den Helder. Completely exhausted the final relief was slowly approaching. We would really do it. Together with this certainty the sun was back. Some unforgettable km up there in North Holland. Painful but happy moments.
The FB call from our running family was the ultimate sign – we did it. And off course we were not alone – Francois came with beer. I mean: how great was that.
225,66 km; 45:35h; 2600D+; 50% TS
Maarten, Addie, Margret, Francois, Stefan, all members of the TS group – one for all, all for one! Fantastic long distance family!
Next to all the stories, myths and legends about crossing borders and pushing limits there are also these moments where your are so far away that you simply need to accept your failure and identify your mistakes.
Nevertheless – it was great to meet and connect – to discuss and to plan. Thanks for supporting and hosting me.
Back in 2017 we started the car to drive to Goirle with the intention to head into a remarkable adventure. We met a lot of people for the first time unsure if we would be welcome – if we would fit into this group. Looking back at that legendary first pre-race evening – it seems like ages ago – there are no doubts left anymore. Tons of memories have been created since then. I would love to tell them all but our time on earth is limited. Although the first edition of LEO180 was a DNF I decided to come back the next years and meanwhile the area feels like home. A home which is also inhabited by loneliness, vastness, lots of sand, pain, exhaustion and empty coke bottles. But still a home.
It is about to start the car again to add another story – whatever the end of this story may be.
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.
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.
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.