Why do some of us feel the need, maybe even the desire, to continue to push the boundaries of what we’ve already accomplished. Why can’t we be happy with what we’ve achieved. The 7a boulder, the marathon (finishing time irrelevant), the 4,000m mountain peak, the green belt in karate…it doesn’t matter. Where does the inner push come from and when will it stop. I find myself asking myself this question whenever I take on a new challenge simply because the challenges are becoming more of a multistep, several month-long training process that end…with pure Nirvana! This challenge was no different.
I love to run. I don’t think there is a sport that makes me happier, that is easier to do, or that is better for your entire body than running. Business trip to London? No problem, Hyde Park is great. A rainy 7 degrees on a Saturday morning? Awesome, I’ll sweat less. New Placebo album released? Groovy, let’s download that thing and listen to it over my cordless in-ear JBL Sprints while maintaining a 4:45/km pace over 10km. I was a long-distance runner in junior high and high school, stuck with it through college, and it’s become one of the few ways I can now decompress from stress filled work weeks. And the truth is, I hate running with other people…haha. So where am I going with this article you may be asking yourself? Enter my buddy, Martin.
Martin is even more of a sports freak than I am. Sport Internat, training with some eventual German Nordic Skiing professionals and Olympians, and very BIG on BIG mountains. We started running together about 2 years ago to get our legs ready for the Gran Paradiso (great Podcast if you wanna listen to it!) eventually summitting and looking for the next challenge. So, Martin decides an ultra-trail marathon is a fantastic idea. And while I didn’t completely share his jumping up and down level of enthusiasm, I thought why not…I’ve done a marathon. How hard could this be. Martin picks out the ZUT (Zugspitze Ultra-Trail) and we decided to enter the Base XL Trail run. 49km and 3400m of elevation…easy peasy lemon squeezy! I’m not going to get into the training, equipment or even how the run went in this article. We finished, we were happy and if you want more, then there’s a great podcast!
This run took me to my absolute sport threshold. It demanded every ounce of my energy, will and soul. It started soft, turned quickly into an oxygen robbing ascent, became graciously picturesque and then boring only to turn back into an oxygen robbing ascent before it went basically straight downhill into a 3km flat finish. My extremely loud scream of elation as I crossed the finish line was two-fold; I finished in under 7h 30m (finishing times don’t matter) and I FINISHED (this matters). My entire body was one big cramp, but I didn’t feel it because there was so much adrenaline running through my body. You build up to this moment with all the training, all the days you don’t really want to run in the Taunus, the excitement filled drive down to the event and throughout the race with the sweet sports drinks you can no longer stomach, or the cucumbers dipped in salt you inhale at the checkpoints. And the crazy thing is that the moment stays with you for days and months thereafter.
So, why do we continue to push the boundaries? For the emotional and physical feeling of accomplishment. To be able to quell the itch that just keeps coming back, and it is does comes back. Next itches on the list? Summiting the Nadelhorn on Sunday the 24th of October and then completing the Frankfurt Marathon on the 30th of October. Here’s to the year 2022!