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Nächster Ultramarathon

Peter Bakwin , 03. Oktober 2005

Deutschlandlauf 2005

I hope everyone behaved while Stephanie & I were pounding the roads across Germany. We ran Deutschlandlauf 2005, a 17-day, 1210 km stage race across Germany (from north to south). Here's a brief summary of our experience.

Lots of info and tons for pics at http://www.deutschlandlauf.com (best if you can read German)

This was a really long, hard race! This is my second race beyond 1000 km (we ran across France in 2002), but this one was much harder. Consider that we had 7 stages over 80 km, really long days. Also, after a "short" first day of 58 km the 2nd - 8th days totalled over 340 miles in one week! And, we still had another 9 stages after that. La Transe Gaule (France) did not exceed 285 miles in a week, and the longest stage was 78 km.

This was a very well organized event. I can't imagine the job to coordinate a 17-day stage race with 67 runners, crews, support people, etc., etc. Each night we stayed in a different town (in gymnasiums), food had to be coordinated at each location, and so on. Aid stations alone are a real challenge as there were over 100 stations in this race! And course marking: can you imagine marking a course for over 1200 km? I am aware of only one mix-up with course marking, which was due to a mis-informed volunteer and cost 5 runners a few minutes each.

It was also very lovely. Every day we ran on quiet back roads and bike paths (and sometimes even trails) through sleepy farm lands and quiet small towns. This is a really neat way to see a country up close and personal -- not the sights but the landscape and out-of-the-way places that tourists rarely visit. We recieved very warm receptions in many of the small towns where we stayed. Often locals would make cakes, which we would hungily consume at the finish line (Germans are famous for their cakes, and beer of course.) Sometimes runners from a local club would come run along with us. In several of the small towns where we stayed the mayor came out to give a welcoming speach.

Steph ran very well for about 5 days, but then experienced the same metabolic problems that have plagued her in every multiday she has tried (we call it the "Pillsbury Dough Boy" effect.) I guess this just isn't her event. She did the first 8 stages, then rested for a week, while supporting me and the other runners, and then ran the last 2 stages as well, completing something over 730 km. We were able to finish the final stage together, which was really special for me.

Things went pretty well for me, considering that I train almost exclusively for mountain running. In France I started too fast and didn't heed the warning signs of injury, and so ended up with horrible shin splits that had me walking slowly for 5 days. This time I tried to start slowly, running about 10 km/hr for the first 2 days. Apparently that wasn't slow enough as my legs really HURT for several days. My pace gradually dropped, bottoming out at 8 km/hr or so. I felt OK, but there was just no power for many days. Frustating. Still, with previous experience I was able to avoid significant injuries, while watching very fine runners crater all around me, mainly the victims of shin splints. My ankles did hurt and became swollen after 4-5 days, but it was manageable and by the end of the race they were fine. After the 11th or 12th stage the stages got shorter, I got more rest, and I began finally to be able to run a bit faster, around 10 km/hr again.

With so many physically and mentally stressed people living in close quarters illness was a problem. A stomach virus ripped through the field, sparing almost no one. At some time or other you just had to accept that you were going to feel like death and go very slowly for one day. Fortunately, my time came on one of the shorter days. It took me 8:45 to complete 58 km that day, then 2-3 more days to recover my appetite and catch back up on calories. Many runners were not so lucky and had to drop due to this virus.

The final tally was 67 starters and 37 finishers. I held on to 10th place, which was satisfying considering the quality and experience of the field. Four of the guys ahead of me finished the TransEurope, a 5000 km stage race from Lisbon to Moscow held 2 years ago. The winner, Rainer Koch, is certainly one of the best multiday runners in the World. This kid would pull off 50 mile stages in well under 7 hours, day in & out! Rainer has run 7:05 for 100km, and also won Rocky Racoon while living in the USA a year or two back (he is moving back to the NE USA for 6 months, so you may see him at the races here.)

Multiday stage racing has become something of a thing over in Europe, and there are many events on roads and trails. I really recommend giving one of these a try sometime if you have the opportunity. Its a really different experience than what we are used to over here, with our 50 and 100 mile trail races.

© Peter Bakwin , 03. Oktober 2005

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