I'm passing a group of people waiting for the next ferry at the terminal. They're looking questioningly at me, probably thinking: What is the guy with the bright orange jersey and the small backpack with a flexible tube attached to it doing here? And why the heck is he running around here?
I'm leaving Dagebuell Mole and feel highly motivated with music in my ears. I'm passing Dagebuell Kirche and I stick to my running strategy which means I'm walking for five minutes after running for 25 minutes. This strategy is working well for the first two hours and 20k until I arrive in the town of Leck. My legs and knees are doing very well but the weather conditions are turning into the hottest day of the year thus far. I definitely didn't take brutal heat into consideration when preparing for this run.
From now on it feels like I'm going through hell and I simply run as long as I can and then walk for a while or even take breaks. There's literally no shade on this stretch of the route. Only once in a while there's a tree. So, the sun is burning down on my head, which is draining and exhausting. I start asking myself Why the hell am I doing this? I don't really have an answer to that and just keep moving. At some point I realize that a car is slowing down next to me and the driver opens the window. I look straight into the smiling face of a friend saying Hey man, here you are! I've been watching out for you. How are you? Telling him how miserable I am at that point makes the both of us laugh and also lets me forget my struggles for a moment. However, it's great to see a familiar face somewhere in nowhere which gives me the motivation to make it to small town Schafflund and cross the 35k line.
I enter a supermarket get some ice cream and a coke. I feel like I need to cool down and also that my body demands sugar. After finishing the ice cream and the coke in the entrance area of the supermarket right under the aircon my mother and a friend show up. She asks How are you feeling? Although she can see on my face that I'm not in the best condition anymore. So we're sitting down a bakery and grab a cup of coffee. I feel great after that break and get ready for the final 20k in direction Flensburg. The lady behind the counter asks me What is your mission? Where are you going? So I tell her that I'm running from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea and now it's only 20 more kilometer. She starts laughing and shaking her head saying Only 20 more kilometers? That's nuts! I can't even run for 2 minutes. She wishes me good luck and I continue my way.
From now on I feel great and wonder what has been inside that coffee? My legs and knees feel good and even the exhaustion is gone. Luckily, this part of the route offers lots of shade which also helps a lot. Step by step I pass the villages Wallsbuell, Unaften and Handewitt. There, I make another ice cream and soda break at a gas station. I think I rarely enjoyed those things so much before in my life. And the thought that I now almost made it to Flensburg excites me a lot. So I get ready to run again, pass the Flensburg airport after some time and then finally make it into the final place of this run - Flensburg. I can't believe that I'm almost at the Baltic Sea side now and feel very excited. I know from now on it's only downhill but first I must make a quick visit at the Villekula project as promised which I dedicate this running project to.
I run downhill and at some point there's my friend Kevin already waiting for me on his bicycle to escort me for the last kilometer. I turn into the square at Flensburg Hafenspitze and voila I made it to the Baltic Sea. I accomplished to run 55+ kilometer and feel totally fine. I did not expect that at all and am very surprised with myself. I expected to be exhausted and under pain at that point but I'm not at all. I guess the hard training over the previous six month paid off. So I simply go home with a smile on my face!
Now the time has come! Tomorrow I’ll do my first ultra-run. I’ll attempt to run 55 kilometers (approximately 35 miles) from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. From shore to shore. This will be the biggest running challenge of my life thus far. It might be the biggest challenge to my body and mind.
The furthest distance I ever ran was 42 kilometers during the Minority Marathon in Flensburg, Germany in 2005. This marathon was definitely the most painful sports experience in my life because I was not well prepared. I started to train about three months earlier and the longest distance I ran during that time wasn’t even half a marathon. I believed that if I can make it to the half marathon mark of 21 kilometers the other half of the race will probably be mind over matter. Well, that day I found out that this thought was pretty naïve and only partly true. I mean, I finished the race because I forced myself but at the same time I realized that my “training” was just pathetic. I still remember the moment when I passed the 24k mark. My legs were already tired and I felt that I was only a few steps away from actual pain. I thought “Why can’t the numbers be switched? 42 kilometers instead of 24 kilometers! Then this idiotic idea to run a marathon would be finally over”. I didn’t have to wait long for the pain. It started just a few kilometers later at the 30k mark. Here I thought “Why the hell am I doing this? Just go home” but at the same time I thought “Okay…you made it this far…from here it’s only another 12k”. And this was the point where my initial thought was right, from here it was pure willingness to finish this race. I still don’t know how I did it but what I do remember was this amazing feeling when I crossed the finish line. In this moment, I didn’t know if I should laugh because I was extremely happy that I finished the race but at the same time I just wanted to cry due to pure pain in my legs. In the end, it was a mixture of both feelings and the next day I could barely walk.
After making this painful experience I swore to myself that I’ll never do such a long run in my life again. And here I am now. Tomorrow I’m attempting to run the width of my home state Schleswig-Holstein. It’s probably the narrowest part of the state but still 55 kilometers which makes it 13k more than the marathon distance.
I think this time I’m more prepared than 13 years ago. I started to run again about one year ago. Just in the past six months I ran more than 1,000 kilometers to increase my endurance. I also worked on my musculature and stability to avoid injuries throughout this challenge. This is something that I didn’t do at all in 2005.
Nevertheless, I had to deal with some aches and pains during my training. Due to that, I even had to postpone this challenge. I wanted to do this run one week earlier but it was just impossible. My left knee had another agenda to this challenge than I did. I really hope that we’ll be on the same team tomorrow!
This time I have a running strategy. My plan is to run for 25 minutes, then walk or rest for five minutes and then start over again. The idea of this strategy is to get along with my power as long as possible (ideally until the end), to avoid cramps or injuries but also to drink enough to stay hydrated. I also didn’t have a strategy 13 years ago. I simply started to run as fast as I could and I did quite well until the half marathon mark where I arrived approximately 1.75 hours. At that point I thought “Wow…Chris…you’re really good at this! You’ll finish this race in pretty good time if you just keep running like this”. Well, you already know how well that worked out. So let’s see how that strategy is gonna work out.
Right now I wonder if I trained enough for this challenge or if it’s going to be another painful experience. I’m quite nervous to find out. And who knows…maybe it’s just a matter of my mind. If you also want to find out, here are the three ways how to do so:
1. Instagram - On here I’ll give regular updates throughout the run so simply connect with me or search for #NBSUltra.
2. Runtastic - This app will give you live information about my position.
3. On the road - Places I’ll come through are: Dagebüll Mole (Start), Dagebüll Kirche, Maasbüll, Risum, Leck, Sprakebüll, Bärenshöft, Schafflund, Wallsbüll, Unaften, Handewitt, Villekula Flensburg, Hafenspitze Flensburg (Finish). So just watch out for me!
Last but not least, some people say that I’m crazy attempting to do such a long run. Maybe I am!? Who knows!? However, I believe that I can accomplish this challenge and also, I’m not only doing this for myself, I’m doing this for a charitable cause. With this run I’m trying to raise money for the Villekula project in Flensburg. Villekula is a gardening project which allows kids to learn about the whole process of how to garden, harvest and prepare healthy meals. Unfortunately, this project currently doesn't have any direct access to water which makes their work more than challenging. So if you also think that I’m crazy or you believe that I can accomplish this challenge, please make a small donation to them. All donations will be used to build a fountain on the Villekula land. Here you can find Villekulas’ bank information. Purpose (Verwendungszweck) for a donation should be "Brunnnen NBSUltra". Cheers!
Click here to find out more about the author.