BjöTiFul 50 2021

Back in 2015 we created a track inspired by the group run „Rund um Aachen“. We thought: the concept is nice but why not extend the loop a bit to include some of the more „interesting“ parts of the areas.

In 2015 we did not find the time and the endurance to actually run the whole loop. We did the first and the second half and even DNFed the second half because we knew that the last 14k are somewhat traily and difficult. This has been finally corrected. It was amazing to run a 6 year old GPX, share old memories of the parts, acknowledge the fact that if would create it these days it would be totally different. Lots of surprises – lots of throw-backs. All in all the track is very diverse and includes all available surroundings. Mens-high thornes, nettles and grass, traily trails (we saw some parts of mAMa) and some parts where running is possible as well. The weather played its part nicely as well and flooded us especially in the second half regulary (which did not improve the trail conditions).

It was good to be out there again – we enjoyed the views!

HWW5 – Wald Wasser Wildnis Weg

Die Geschichte ist schnell erzählt. Falscher letzter Zug. Gestrandet in Kall – sowas ist immer ärgerlich. Um das Gemünd zu beruhigen schnell am dortigen Nationalparktor vorbeigeschaut und dann auf dem schnellsten Weg zurück zu einem frequentierten Bahnhof. Das war in dem Fall Langerwehe – perfekt zu erreichen über den Hauptwanderweg 5 des Eifelvereins von Gemünd nach Langerwehe. Elegant.

Nachts allein im starken Dauerregen war die erste Hälfte ereignisarm. Mit ca. 2 Meter Sichtweite im kalten Regen war es so eine der Passagen in der der Genuss ganz im Vordergrund steht. Scheinbar muss man auf jeder Tour durch die Nordeifel einmal nach Schmidt hoch – warum auch immer. Sonst waren große Teile der Strecke bekannt vom Wildnistrail und dem Nord-Eifel-Ultra von Stefan. Also schnell durch und ab in den Zug in Langerwehe.

Wald – auf jeden Fall, Wasser – reichlich von oben, Wildnis – vermutlich war ich verantwortlich für 100% der Mobilitätsdaten in der Nordeifel in dieser Nacht. Allein und doch beäugt von zahllosen Augen zwischen den Bäumen inmitten gleichgültig fallenden kalten Tropfen.

Damit ist der nächste der Hauptwanderwege des Eifelvereins abgehakt!

100 mi Hangeweiher #aachenläuft

Die Aktion #aachenläuft ist eine schöne Idee und funktioniert technisch echt gut wenn man die Hinweise der Organisatoren zur Nutzung der App beachtet. So kann man ganz gemütlich am Hangeweiher 2 oder 4 Runden drehen, dabei etwas für den guten Zweck tun und in diesen verrückten Corona-Monaten etwas Zeit an der frischen Luft verbringen. Also Ihr Aachener – raus an den Weiher!

Das schöne Wetter am Wochenende war zu einladend – 68 Runden (17×9.2 km) auf der Strecke plus einige Runden unten am Weiher machen auch 100 Meilen voll. In 23 Stunden und 45 Minuten eine gegen Ende doch sehr anstrengende Angelegenheit. Vielen Dank an alle die vorbei geschaut haben und ganz besonders an Uwe. Wir haben uns das erste Mal gesehen, aber es brauchte nur kurz bis wir uns gut verstanden haben. #1 und #2 der Rangliste gemeinsam auf der Runde – das hat Spaß gemacht.

Das Ende.
Nein, das ist nicht die HF.

Für die Statistik: #19 – check.

Behind the Curtain

Winter is coming. Soon the running season is over and the ultra running season starts. Finally all the hustle and bustle ends. The trails are slowly but surely emptying again. It gets colder and darker. Rare sunlight spreads over half-frozen muddy, dirty and lonely trails. One is the only human striving through the nothingness. The breath freezes to clouds of mist in front of the headlamp and the crunch of the trail shoes on frozen ground is the only noise to be heard. Miles are coming and miles are going out there in the fresh, ice-cold and crisp shapes.

Blurry figures on the move.

As it will be Corona-winter too and with rising numbers nothing is certain and granted. We are not sure which of our plans will become reality but we want to be prepared.

So my friends and me sat together to review ultra running. Not that ultra running in general was in question but I think there is one thing that unites and drives all of us: the longing of this one feeling. In our post-LT 250/500 race reviews we have been discussing quite a lot about our personal experiences out there and the moments we talked about most were not the ones full of joy or success. But the moments in which one finally understands and accepts the vastness of the surroundings and what a small piece oneself is in this big puzzle. The moments of exceeding the obvious borders the race puts upon you and the awareness that there is more beyond. VPsucher came back from his 360k DH win with similar experiences of sheer existence in the middle of the dunes with no human around for hours. It is a lonely but great feeling. Remote. Tackled. Beaten. And yet: moving and full of determination to finish.

One of the special moments in 2020. And I was only the one taking the picture.

We started to create something to share these moments together with a small group of similar-minded runners and friends. Running and racing on the grounds and in the areas we love with a certain level of difficulty. Rare-support to self-support events of pure running. Enjoying the art of creating the GPX-files and looking forward to fill them with some running. The set of runs we came up with will be challenging enough to have plenty options to fail. We combined them to a set for the real collectors among us.

We may spread the rumours when it seems applicable. Or we may not. Behind the curtain we will do some running of the type we think running should be: low-cost, free of limits, simple and pure. The paths ahead are laid out. Who will be able to follow them until the very end? In a good, old tradition it is meant to start around Halloween 2020.

On? On!

GR Hageland 2020

Finally running together re-started. Took the car to Belgium to enter a self-supported 150k track last weekend. The secret is to not stop before the track ends. No matter what.

Had some amazing hours the morning after. Enjoying the afterglow of the walk with the 5 finishers and RD family with delicious food in a late-summer morning breeze. Sitting there, joking, eating and discussing is the essence of our understanding of running. Priceless. Thanks to all for that great weekend.

Start
Waiting for the night.
Waiting for the night.

runalyze.com / 150.32 km Laufen: GR Hageland – TypeII Fun / 05.09.2020
1d 01:17:24 / 10:06/km / 1,061 m D+

The circle is closed – AOBtD 2020

Let me start with the Another One Bites the Dust poem by Teun Geurts. Teun was supporting this year and his words fit perfectly – thanks Teun:

They were thirteen and they were running
They started running when the sun went down
They ran into the dark and all through the night
When the sun came up and warmed the dust
And still the thirteen were running

They ran for no special reason, it’s just what they do
They ran for no special reason, into the light

The sun ran its course all through the sky
And still the thirteen were running
They ran their course on the face of the earth
The wind in their faces, biting the dust
And still the thirteen were running

They ran for no special reason, it’s just what they do
They ran for no special reason, chasing the light

The light started to fade from the sky
And still the thirteen were running
Rain on their faces, washing the dust
Hundreds of swallows sweeping the sky
And still the thirteen were running

They ran for no special reason, it’s just what they do
They ran for no special reason, into the night

The Legends Slam 2019-2020 is done. Since the very first race of the series The Great Escape back in November 2019 the idea of just crossing one by one of it from the agenda somehow got me. What was a far away dream back then started to become more and more realistic. Even more so with the Legends Trail 250 finish this February. Only one to go. Corona hit all of us and races were cancelled one by one and Another One Bites the Dust was postponed and finally cancelled. But not for the 13 runners still in the race for The Legends Slam.

Being one of the lucky ones I was allowed to participate in a very special race. Huge thanks to the LT Team/Legendary Friends for putting the whole trail city up for the few of us. It was a very nice, calm and unique atmosphere. As I did not bring any crew, Fanny thankfully agreed to help me and did an amazing job. We grew into a good team and her support became more and more crucial the longer the race lasted and helped a lot to keep me up and running.

The race itself is hard to describe – you better do it yourself to understand how it is. Basically it is all about timing and thing which can happen to you is, that you find a rhythm that consumes you in a way that you stop thinking and act like a machine doing the same job over and over again – run the same 6.3 km loop:

AOBtD splits

For me it started to become difficult somewhat around loop 18. But well, on one point it should get difficult. I was not able to make up my mind to fully switch to race mode and I stayed with the mantra: just finish the 28 loops by whatever means. Then you are free again.

What impressed me most was the fact how those 12 runners around me faced the task. Running amongst these Legends made me proud. No mistakes, discipline and precision all over. It was like looking at a fine-tuned pice of art. Every step well chosen, each corner perfectly cut, each piece of runnable ground used – amazing performance.

And finally. Saturday night 23:55 it was finally over. 28 loops done – Legends Slam 2019-2020 finished. What a relieve it was…

The Finish.
The DNF job needs to be done!
The End.

I think it is time to rest now. And to say thank you to my family who accepts my running and to the inner circle of runners/friends which was formed throughout the last 2-3 exciting years and which is always a source of motivation and power. This success would not have been possible without all of you. What can possibly come after all of this? Who knows.

But with friends like I have I expect it to be spectacular.

Halbzeit 2020

Was ein erstes Halbjahr 2020. Der Start ins Jahr war schon vielversprechend: zuerst die Tour im Hohen Venn mit Maarten und Marek und dann natürlich der etwas feuchte mAMa 2020.

Und dann der Legends Trail 250 2020. Was eine erstaunliche Reise durch 3 Nächte und zwei Tage es doch war. An Tag 3 endlich aus dem letzten unendlichen Flusstal aufzutauchen, das Ziel zum Greifen nah mit dem letzten Sonnenaufgang im Rücken – es war ein unbeschreibliches Gefühl. Über 60 Stunden Eins mit der Natur und jetzt sollte es zurück ins echte Leben gehen? Soziale Interaktion? Wie soll das funktionieren?

LT250 – KM 259/261 – 60+h – coming home. Or am I leaving home?

Es folgte die Corona-Zeit welche durch einige Challenges doch kurzweiliger und laufintensiver wurde als gedacht. Wir waren hier in Deutschland doch sehr privilegiert was die Einschränkungen anging. Duivelse Uitdaging 1 & 2 by Marek waren jedenfalls ein amüsanter Zeitvertreib. Mit den momentan möglichen Lockerungen kehrte auch endlich das lange Laufen zurück. Ein Gruppenlauf auf der verbesserten UTDS-Strecke war der perfekte Wiedereinstieg in das Ultralaufen und die perfekte Gelegenheit im Legends-Trail Gebiet in Erinnerungen zu schwelgen. Exquisite Truppe – gerade in diesem Gebiet. Experten-Runde quasi. UTDS Legends Edition.

Wie unterschiedlich und doch gleich die Momente. Sogar den direkten Bild-Vergleich gibt es – war das Wetter beim LT250 wirklich so schön?

Insgesamt steht 2020 nach 200 Tagen nicht schlecht da.

Progression Graph from RUNALYZE. 2019 vs. 2020 – Tag 200.

Und wie soll es jetzt weiter gehen? Schwer vorauszusagen mit dem Virus im Hintergrund. Doch die Pläne sind soweit gemacht. In 5 Wochen wird es richtig ernst. Der letzte Teil des Legends-Slam steht an: Another One Bites the Dust – AOBtD. 28 x 6.3 km warten mindestens – jede Stunde eine Runde. Keine Möglichkeit Zeit rauszulaufen: das wird eine langsame und konstante Qual. Aber die Verlockung den Slam zu erringen ist riesig. Hoffen wir, dass die Motivation und die Kraft für diesen würdigen Abschluss der Legends Trail Reihe reichen.

#1 #2 #3 – #4?

Anfang September und Ende Oktober sind 2 privatere und exklusivere Läufe geplant. Darüber wird es erst im Nachgang oder kurz vorher Infos zu geben. Wenn das alles so läuft wie geplant sollte 2020 mit genügend Herausforderungen zu Ende gehen.

*** UTDS plus 2020 ***

Time for a little adventure next weekend to finally kickoff ultra-running after this period of social distancing and closed borders. It will be a pleasure to be able to meet this group of extraordinary runners and to finally be able to go back to a nice patch of Belgium: the Ardennes.

We chose the UTDS (Ultra Tour des Sources) a permanent market Extratrail route with a few „improvements“ to include some beautiful parts the original UTDS track avoids for whatever reasons. The final distance is around 100 Miles with approx. 5000 m D+ and the scenery will be stunning.

We will start at 0800 „sharp“ on Saturday 04.07.2020 and as we like to bore you to death there will be a live tracking. To bore you even more there will be only one dot as we will stick together as a group. ONE. DOT. It may be the purest and most intense Legends Tracking experience you will have in your entire life so make sure to enjoy every second. There you go:

http://battleofthebulge.legendstracking.com/

Legends Trail 250 – Flashback

For me ultra running truly starts at the point where I have given up. To continue a run after this point seems mentally and physically impossible – the battle is finally lost at the end of a long fight.

Beyond that point it is not getting any easier or less painful. Quite the contrary. But as I already lost against myself I am truly whole again. No longer divided between the urge to continue and the longing to quit. I don’t have to go through those deepest of all valleys again. There is suddenly a feeble light at the end of this tunnel.

CP1. Night 1/3 down.

It´s Sunday evening – somewhere out there. What a journey so far – 200k in 48h. Two nights and two days full of ups and downs: both physically and mentally.

Around 10k earlier I was in a good condition. The 4th and last CP finally in reach, the promised bad weather still calm and the head in a good mood full of hope again.

And now? Pouring, cold rain, really tough last kilometres (and that despite the fact that it was mostly going downhill on easy terrain) and again some thoughts on the greater meaning of all that. Plus: the track is gone. The GPX of that stage ended 200 m ago but where is that checkpoint now. It is cold and getting dark – the third night is about to start. There are some houses but the street is empty and abandoned. What am I doing here? What a cold and lonely place. I am exhausted and desperate for some rest or better: the end of all of this. It takes me 10 minutes to actually see the LT sign directing me to the back of a house and the door to the warm and comfortable CP. A sign of how desperate the situation seems to be. After the now routine actions at the CP and two plates of Pasta – decisions have to be made.

Or wait – there is nothing more to decide on: the path ahead finally crystal clear. Although it was comfortable to not run for some moments and just sit indoor, although the weather out there is awful and although the final stages is again 60k long and mostly dark. Although it will take more energy I have left…

It is time. Time to be superior of all that doubts and problems. Time to really earn that moment of relieve at the very end. The only option left with no matter what is waiting out there is: to go out again and finish.

Finish.
Finish.
Finish. Thanks Harry de Vries for all the pictures!

Does it matter after all?

Throwback January 2020. Hautes Fagnes. The idiots doing a night training session.

It is cold, dark, the track is watery and slippery – no other human knows our exact location (and we are sometimes not too sure about it ourselves). We are together and yet alone. Lost in the Belgium winter – driven by a indescribable force. Again out there while we should be at home sleeping. Witnessed only by the stars and a few creatures hidden in the bushes around. Immense tiny dots on that earth. Unnoticed but still moving.

In the aftermath of that run an E-Mail flow circled through our E-Mail postboxes with the nice title: „In case you really think it matters what you do…“

The only other content of that E-Mail was a link to a YT-video with a time-lapse animation with some predictions about the end of the universe within the next trillions of years…

Sometimes – while running out there – the vastness, the emptiness, the cold and the dark finally closes the grip around you. It is like trying to resist against the final destiny of becoming some forever frozen atoms in an expanding universal vastness waiting for the end of time. Determined to try to fight this destiny and yet sure that ultimately there will be no way out. Immensely enjoying the company of the fellowship of runners and feeling a strong bond within the group.

But: will it make a difference? Does it all matter after all?

No.

How could it.