It took about 6 months of training, an injury, and onther challenges but on the 9th of July it was finally the time that I could start at hte Lakeland Ultra 100k together with Dafne! I didn't have the confidance in a good result in the last few weeks prior the start. I had the feeling the disturbance in training due to injuries and other stuff that happens would make a finish difficult. So I had an agreement with Dafne I would at least run with her during the night, it is also nice not to run alone in the dark.

Our stay

We booked a hotel about a mile away from the start/finish area in a typical British hotel restaurant. The food was... Britsh. For us it was mainly a bit fatty but okay if you are not planning on running a 100 km utratrail. But I did enjoy the local beers with low alcohol, for Dutch understanding. And our hotel was located at the Windemere lake, a beautiful spot to enjoy the view!

Packing

I bought a new race pack for this race, the Black Diamond Distance 15. And after using it on a view training runs and this race I can conclude that I do mis the handy pockets that Salomon has and also an easy way to use a water reservoir. But okay, I had to pack some mandatory items in the pack like a head torch, full waterproof jacket and trousers with taped seams, base layer top with long sleeves, emergency food and drink you have to cross the finish with and other things. And there were 9 check pints (CP) we would run to and we made a package with food for every CP we needed to eat before the next VP going partly in our pack and partly in our drop bag. Also in the drop bag I put some extra shoes, clothing, liquid  food and other things. You never know what you are going to need, right?

Just before the start

I was realyy looking forward in starting at 00.01. On Friday we tried to do things easy, also I went to ly on the bed and hope I could get to do a power nap. So, there we were just before 12 o'clock for the last minute talk. The organizer noticed the posts Dafne did on socials tagging the run and said there were two Dutchies present and asked where we stood. So we raised our poles and got applauded. So far trying to hide in the back...

The start

The countdown commenced and there us trailers started. We ran out of the park, through the city and starting climbing out of the town. The first climbing was on asphalt but it soon went into an unpaved path and at the start of the climb we grabbed our poles. We Dutchies are not used to elevation in our flat country so we need to safe energy where we can.

When we left the Ambleside it also went dark, this is the part I was lookign forward to. I really enjoy running in the dark so much and back home running in the nature after sun set is mostly not allowed besides roads. Also the other trailers were getting ahead, we had fewer and fewer people around us. Bizarre to see the big diiference in speed in the dark, lights already far away. I didn't mind, we kept our own speed just faster than the cut off times. In the two first hills I hoped to run ascending but sadly the path was that rocky that we hiked as we're not used to those surfaces to run an. Better to do it hiking than spraying an anckle!

Tail runner

The first CP came into sight, not hard to miss since it was the only building with the lights on at 2 am. When we entered I noticed the tail runner was just behind us. I had to ask him if we were the last two runners, "sadly" this was the case but we didn'nt mind. We we're easily in front of the cut off time. And ofcourse leaving the CP we went straight into the dark again and just a little bit further we took a turn into a meadow and immediatly didn't see the next course flag. So we turned our head torches on the brightest setting and went looking where to go. Luckily I saw a flag in the distance and we could go running again.

So we started running towards our third climb that night and could see a few head torches in fron of us again. That is nice to see where we are running towards to. After passing another gate I wanted to see if the trail runner was far behind and looked back and saw lots of eyes brightening. Seemed we were passing some sheep just far enough away not to see when looking in front, that was rather nice.

Sun rise getting close

The biggest part of the hill went bye rather easily, which was a little surprise since it looked steep on the map. But I'm not complaining though! And as we were climbing up hill I took notice I could see distances more easily, it was already getting light again at 3 am. And I enjoyed climbing this hill, seeing the torches up ahead getting a little bit closer, chatting with eachother and getting to seeing more of the surroundings. We climbed and climed and just a bit below the top we were almost behind the people in front of us.

Marshalls

What surprised me a few times was the in the dark of night there were marshalls present at the top of the hills we were climbing. What a spot to be be supporting the race, it is a long walk toward the top from either side in the middle of the night. It was a warm welcome from the marshalls though, giving information on the part we were going to. Hats off for those volunteers!

Again, the sun rise

After eaching the top of hill 3 we started our descent. We were just about 30 metres behind the people in front of us. I initially thought they were people running the red flags we also noticed on our course but I reconignised a woman we talked to earlier in the night so they were also 100 km trailers. And at that time I noticed Dafne going down hill at record speed. Normally she takes her time while descending but now she was flying! We could pase the runners in front of us and immediatly making some distance on them. Go Dafne!

And then the most beautiful part of the ultra started, the sun rise! The clouds in the sky were pink, the lake in front of us became pink, all the water was pink! It was that beautiful I had to take pictures of it before seeing CP in front of us.

My attempt on the Lakeland Ultra on Strava

Searching

And then it a little bit wrong as we couldn't see the markings anymore. We had a choice of going left side uphill or to the right. I quickly loaded the GPX track and tried to see if that would help. It took a little bit time to see but to the right was correct.  We first went just a little bit off track but then again got on it again.

And then we we're a group of five since the runners we passed going down hill now also got where we were looking for the route. From there the route was in an area loaded with ferns and our path was also somewhat covered ith rocks. Enough of the not to go running but hiking instead. As we're not used to rocks hiking is more secure and not spraying an ankle. This went on for about 5 km, which had a bad influence in our mood. It's flat but you can't run so you're only moving slowly... But eventually the surface became runable again and on we went.

Asphalt

By now we reached an asphalt road getting towards our third CP, but it took more time getting there than we hoped for. Eventually we got there, made a stop at the toilet, got our bag of food to eat until the next CP, drank coffee, grabbing something to eat and went on walking. The route went by a stream and after a little while crossing it and eventually reaching an asphalt road. Here I noticed my achilles was getting sensitive because my shoe was hitting it too hard. I applied a few layers tape on it and we went running again.

Asphalt became trail became asphalt again and we entered the village Asham. That village looked picturesque and people were already awake here. While leaving the village again we went by another marshall, we chatted a bit and the went on running on a grass path looking at a beautiful area in fron of us!

It went sour

Here we were running in a hilly scenery with an awesome view of the area. But in my mind I was thinking about my achilles, it became more sensitive and already a bit painfull, and I already thought that this was not going to be my day. I still had over 50 kilometers to go, What was the best thing to do, try to reach CP 5 where I had a spare set of shoes in my drop bag? That was still about 15 kilometer away, how would my achilles feel then? Perhaps stop? Is finishing this ultra worth getting (badly) injured?

And after a kilometer, after running for 46 kilometers, I made the desiscion to DNF. I told Dafne, we hugged, I said she could do this and wishe her success. I let go of some tears and sobbed, DNF-ing is no such fun. But it was a wise thing to do. I sat down, loosened the lace of my left shoe and went hiking while still enjoying the landscape. It was still another 5 kilometer to go but after 3 kilometer the sun was burning quite hard and I started slow jogging a bit ti get to the CP, and shade, more quickly. And after reaching it I put my dipper in the device to check-in and then said I was going to DNF and needed a ride back.

Did Not Finish

While waiting there, eating and drinking some, the last runners of the 100k also came in and we chatted a bit. And after between 30-60 minutes my ride back was there. Driving back we chatted, stopped regurly because of traffic on the small roads and we reached CP 5 where another ride would bring me back to the finish area. And when I was just started chatting to someone Dafne was there! So I helped here repack, mixing drinks and there she went again, towards the next CP. Luckily my ride was so friendly to drop me at our hotel because now I also had both our drop bags and my trailpack with me. It saved my hiking back a mile with those.

After eating a hamburger, drinking a DNF beer and a shower I tried to sleep a bit no such luck. The original plan was I would still be running for hours so now I had no plans. So put on my barefoot shoes, those were not touching my achilles so hiking was luckily no problem, and went to the finish area to cheer all the finishers.

Dafne and I stayed in contact, she messaged me reaching the next CP and told how long she thinks needs to get to the next. And at CP 9 she thought she would finish around 22.00 - 22.30. At that time I was getting a bit tired, doing nothing in a field and having missed a night sleeping, I started feeling sleepy. So I was walking in the finish area a bit and when I heard people clapping I went towards the finish to also cheer. When I was at the far point at 21.40 I heard clapping again, I looked and saw Dafne already making her way towards the finish! No way! So I ran to the finish line for a finish photo. It took her 21.43 hours of running 104 kilometers but she did it!

In retrospective

Looking back I can be satisfied with this ultra. No, I did not finish it. But when I made the choice to DNF my legs were still feeling just fine, I wasn't tired and still had high motivation to reach the finish. Still I believe the that would've been possible if my achilles would'nd gotten injured. I had no muscle strain or any other pains. So I really am glad how I survived this mini ultra I did. I'm not sure I will be trying another 100k soon, my thoughts now are shorter trails with nice elevation and the possibilty of some running downhill on technical terrain.

Thank you

And I also would like to thank the organisation and all its volunteers that made this trail possible. Having marshalls on the top of a hill was a surprise for me. I can understand why they are there but I just didn't expect it. All people I met were friendly and helpfull. Thank you all!

All photos made during this ultratrail

My attempt on the Lakeland Ultra on Strava

This year I'm planning to run the first marathon in since the last 5 years. I've already run two marathons en both times I've said after the finish that I would never run a marathon again. With my second marathon I've reached all goals I had set and why would I do something I really don't enjoy that much? But last year I was running more longer distances, doing a 25 km run on a thursday evening for example. In the dark because it was still winter at that time, that smell of the freeze starting, just loving it! But after two hamstring problems in the last year I discovered trail running. Well, actually I already liked what's considered as trail running. Running in the woods, at the heath but now I was (also because Dafne her enthoussiasm) participating in trail runs. Loving those about 30 km trails and I did them as a training for a marathon!

Another marathon

Okay, another marathon. Dafne was already doing the Berenloop, a well known run on the island of Terschelling, and I decided to run the full instead of the half marathon there. So after the summer holiday I started my training for this. My last marathon was already 5 years ago, Eindhoven 2012, and I couldn't fall back to my experience then. It was already too long ago. But I decided to use the same schedule as then because I liked that one. The only thing different would be that I wanted to run for about a hour on fridays on a easy pace to get my week total a little bit higher.

Sonsbeek Parkrun had launched! It was finally there at the 21st of August, the launch of the Sonsbeek Parkrun. It had became a lengthy start due to COVID as the first talks were already in early 2019.

What is Parkrun?

Parlrun is a worldwide initiative where everyone can walk or run a 5 kilometer route and it takes place on every Saturday. You can register at the Parkrun website where after registering you get a personal barcode. You need this barcode for the time registration.

Barcode-, Time registration?

After you have crossed the finish line at a Parkrun you will get a token from a volunteer. The next volunteer will scan your barcode and the your token (which you hand over). This way your time and name will be registered in the system and after the race all timings will be uploaded to the local web site and you will receive an e-mail with your finishing time and even more information, and link to the results page.

Extra finishing data

In the e-mail you receive next to your finish time you can also find more information, just lovely for poeple who love numbers! You can find your age index, gender index for example. I tend to just read it but only take it for notice. and of course it also has a link to the results page of the Parkrun you visited.

Personal page

You also get a personal (profile) page where you can find your most recent results but also which Parkruns you have already have visited before. Also you (not)Parkrun results as your volunteer results.

Becomming a volunteer?

All Parkruns are organised by volunteers. Together we try to give the participants the best experience we can offer. And becomming a volunteer is easy, there is a page with all the information. Some tasks are:

  • Marshall - pointing the participants in the correct direction
  • Tail walker - walking/running with or after the last participant to make sure all participants have finished
  • Pre-event build up / Post-event close down - building the course or cleaning it

Useful links

Since a while now there is a trail route available that goes from train station Dieren over the Posbank to train station Arnhem. With a total of about 28 kilometers this is not a trail most runners will do, luckily Dafne and I are quite busy training for our marathon so that 28 kilometer is about what we should run in the weekend.

After seeing the Berlin marathon on TV we took the train from Arnhem towards Dieren, a 11 minute ride, but the route back to Arnhem will take a little bit more time. But first we took a picture of us with the train station clock in the background, mandatory if you want to participate in the results of this trail from MudSweatTrails.

The first part was getting out of Dieren and then also we were in the forest and the route wasn’t totally flat anymore. We both enjoyed the route and it looked like we were at the Posbank in no time. Here we could enjoy the heath, although it was no longer in bloom. Soon after the Posbank we entered the Veluwezoom and came across a large area of tall grass. This is where I sometimes run from Arnhem, so beautiful and early in the morning it’s still almost no people there.

Finally it was time, no more running 20, 30, 40 kilometers but just doing a 63 one! And that on our beloved island of Ameland at the Lighthouse trail (Vuurtorentrail). The last two years we already participated in the other distances (2017; 18 and 2018; 12 & 35) and now it was time to do the last one of 63 kilometers. The forecast for that weekend wasn't great, lots of wind and rain. But in retrospective I can say that we had some luck because it was dry during our trail.

I wasn't worring much about the long distance having trained three times a 40+ km run. So finishing shouldn't be a problem. And it all started okay. We met Mark who we know from a training group we sometimes run with. Funny you suddenly see a familiar face. The route this year first went to the south part of the island, there we entered the beach and run towards the nothern part of the island. At about 12 kilometer we came to our first checkpoint. After a short eat and drink break we took off again.Na vier kilometer zicht op de vuurtoren

A bit slower

At the second checkpoint I told Mark I was going to run slightly slower. This because I wanted to have some energy left when we would be in the last part of the trail. From the next hour or so we still would be within 100 meters of eachother but I was running at my personal pace. Also a reason to go a bit slower was that the back of my shoe was pressuring in my achilles heel and I started to feel that.

Suprise! Nose bleed

The point where we did get really separated was at nearly 33 kilometer. I just passed someone when I noticed I had a nose bleed. Very annoying. Luckily the guy I just passed had some tissues on him so I could clean myself. And after a short time I could run again. It was nice that we entered a concrete bike path at that time so I could do a slow run and not have to go up and down the dunes for a while.

We entered a salt marsh which was beautiful but also tough and slippery. My trail shoes were not even close on the grip I needed there. A few times I got rid of all the mud that was sticking on my shoes. Also my achilles heel was getting a bit painful. I already was doing a slightly different technique to comfort my achilles but it wasn't workign well.Kwelderig, probeer maar droge voeten te houden

After getting at the single tracks again, going up and down the dunes I did my best to do it easyly. Walking up and down helped a bit. I got to another checkpoint and took some peanuts for the salt. I didn't feel like eating much during running but those nuts were great! I also was about a marathon distance into the race at that point. My achiiles was not doing great but also my knee was giving problems. Still I tried to run the last 20 kilometers and got going again.

It's all in the head

I couldn't enjoy the scenery anymore altough the views were just beautiful. My heel and knee were telling me it wasn't going well. During the Great Wall Marathon last year in China I too had problems. It was so hot there I just couldn't cool my self. But after taking lots of time to rest and cool I managed to finish over there. But sadly it wasn't the weather now but my own body that was causing my troubles. The only wise thing to do was to give up. Going on would only result in more pain and longer recovery.I walked a bit to let this sink in, there were some tears involved.

Finally I grabbed my phone and called the organisation that I wanted to be picked up. At that time two men on mountain bikes from the organisation showed up and asked if I was okay. They handled the car that would pick me up. Suddenly Dafne was there, we hugged and I got emotional again. It's hard. I let her go her own way and was escorted by one of the bikers. He himself stopped a few weeks before at a 250 km race at 130 km into the race so he knew what I was going through.

It's five days later now. My achilles heel still isn't recoverd so i made the correct call stopping. My knee seems okay from the day after the race. I feel okay having to quit the race, it is what it is. And I did run for about 51 km! Wednesday I had a sports massage and I was told that my legs just felt fine except for the achilles heel so I really was prepared for the distance.

Het amelander strand heeft er wel eens beter bij gelegen...

slachtemarathon

I'm following a marathon schedule since about three weeks. Yeah, I'm planning to run a marathon agina after saying "THIS NEVER AGAIN" after my first and "I've completed all my goals, no I can retire from marathons" after the second. 

So, why planing a third marathan? Well, not an exact awnser but why not? The marathon I want to run is the Slachte marathon. It is in Fryslân, the province where I grew up in. Running 42km from the coast towards the small town Raerd through the meadows, just like when I started running back in the nineties. Back then grom Boalsert to Burchwert and back.

But back on topic, running and pain. At some point you think this is going great. I started from home towards Ressen and back, about 21km. Starting just before the twilight, a few degrees above 0 and almost at the end of the training you think, I'm feeling my hamstring a bit. A did a another few trainings and it went kinda OK but then came a training with my running group. 30 seconds on a slow pace, 20 at a 10km pace and 10 second fast. The slow pace was no problem, but after the 10km pace I knew I had to stop. And of course, at the far end of the training from the sports hall where we start from. 

After 2 days I was at the sports masseur and I can tell you, that was a really uncomfortable massage. Uncomfortable and a bit painfull. I could feel the respond to that massage for up to 2 days, and that was correct. So after 3 days I hoped I could enjoy an training. I went on a slow pace, and kept that slow pace but after about 5km I knew this was not going well. So I ran towards home and now hoping the massage this tuesday is going te be good. #ouch

Finally a trail run with a little bit more altitude difference. On the Posbank we already touched the 500 altitude difference but that was a 30 kilometer trail run. I entered the half marathon and it has about 690 altitude difference. So the question I asked myself was, will I notice that and how hard will the course be.

I was in the back at the start, together with Dafne. We both were not aiming at a fast finish time. The first 500 meters already were setting the tone for the rest of the distance, up hill in the town towards the meadow at the town border. I said goodbye to Dafne because the meadow was going downhill and I like going downhill! Most people stayed on the muddy path created by the runners before us but I went to the side where there still was no mud and only grass. Perhaps I was making a little bit more distance like this but I could go faster and easier.