Comfort zone is defined as an area/status in private/social life which is characterized as to be comfort and risk-free to the fullest. Or to say it with the words of Brené Brown:
„Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized — where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control. […]“ https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komfortzone
In general leaving this comfort zone is considered to be a positive thing. It means one is ready to risk something, ready to invest some effort and to endure a certain amount of discomfort to get things done or to reach a goal.
But is this the only perspective? Is that all?
Once the comfort zone is left – does this mean comfort is beyond reach until you return from your journey? What if you fought through uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability on this journey and suddenly realize that you found comfort again although you are as far away from the „comfort zone“ as humanly possible?
It may not be comfort in the classical definition. You may not have access to enough love but if you planned wisely you should have access to food; you certainly used a decent amount of time and a little bit of talent to reach that status. In addition to these attributes you may be blessed with fellow travellers on the very same journey which gives you access to company, friendship and – yes – comfort. Whether or not these situations can be considered as to be „under control“ is worth a different discussion.
But it is indeed a kind of comfort. Comfort plus maybe. Something you feel home in. Moments of honest, fullest and deepest acceptance of everything there may be. Because the circumstances do not matter anymore as you finally fully merge with the situation – no matter what it may be.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
runalyze.com / 150.32 km Laufen: GR Hageland – TypeII Fun / 05.09.2020 1d 01:17:24 / 10:06/km / 1,061 m D+
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:
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…
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.