|From time to time people ask me what my running ambitions are, often suggesting races like the New York Marathon or the Marathon of Berlin.
Of course I have a bucket list with some awesome goals on it, but it does not contain the regular runner goals that pop up into most people’s minds.
My bucket list is not static, it is continuously changing as I explore and extend my limits. Who knows what the ultimate goal will be. But I do have a few things in mind for the next few years that I would like to achieve.
2016 - Establishing myself as an ultrarunner.
Short term goals: Establishing myself as an ultrarunner.
2017 - Eiger Trail
2018 - Tierra Arctic Ultra
The ultimate goal - Western States 100
Short term goal – Establish myself as an ultrarunner
Having completed my first ultra trailrun in 2015 still does not make me feel like I am an ultrarunner. So I have set out a few goals for 2016 to get a bit more used to the long distances and to get into the ultra running scene:
- 60 km Vaalserbergtrail in May.
- Complete my first multi-stage trailrun event.
In june 2016 I will be competing in the Veluwezoom trail, which is a 2-day, 3-stage trailrun event consisting of an 11 km and 25 km stage on day 1 and a 57 km stage on day 2, totalling the distance to 93 km of trailrunning.
- My own 64 km (40 mile) 40th birthday run on Texel in July.
- 65 km Trail des Fantomes in August.
- Run the full commute to work from Utrecht to Rotterdam (68 km).
And who knows, I might add some more later in the year.
So those are the short term and very tangible goals I have set for the short term (as in within 1 year). But of course I have also already have some longer term goals in mind that I have put on my bucket list.
The Eiger Trail – Complete my first 100 km trail race.
The first goal that I have set for myself that I consider a big milestone for myself is completing my first 100km trailrun. For this I have set my mind to the 101 km Eiger trail of 2017.
The Eiger trail is a race around the Eiger North Face in Grindelwald, Switzerland. 101 kilometers of mountain trails with a total elevation gain of 6700 meters with the highest point at 2600 meters is going to be a though challenge to conquer.
The view of the area is breathtaking and the current plan is to focus a mini sabbatical around this event together with Astrid.
Registration will open up later this year (probably around September) and I will be sure to be ready when it opens to secure my participation to this race.
The Tierra Arctic Ultra – The one way beyond my comfort zone.
A 120 km ultra run in Sweden held in August each year just north of the Polar Circle. Why this specific race? It is certainly not the most well known ultra race in the world and even though, with it’s 120 km and 2500 meters in positive elevation, it is certainly a challenge it is also not te toughest of them all. So why is this specific race on my bucket list?
The Tierra Arctic Ultra is one of the first races I found when I was searching for ultra trails on Google and it keeps popping up in my mind ever since as a race I would like to run one day.
What is so attractive to it for me? First of all the distance and elevation are within the reach of my capabilities. But most importantly, it is way out of my comfort zone. The Tierra Arctic Ultra is an unmarked course in the Swedish mountains and follows the famous hiking trail the King’s Trail from Nikkaluokta to Abisko. Since it is unmarked it means that you will have to navigate along it by yourself and that’s the first step out of my comfort zone. Besides that it is also in one of the most desolate environments there is. And this means that there are no aid stations, you are basically on your own for 120 km. If you run out of water, fill up your bottles in a stream along the trail.
And the final reason to want to run in this event…. The view is not that bad judged on this short video about the 2015 edition.
Since I consider this a step up from the Eiger Trail, it will probably be my goal for 2018 or later.
The Western States 100 mile Endurance Run – The ultimate goal.
The one where it all started, the mother of all ultra trails. The Western States 100 mile Endurance run.
The Western States 100 started in 1955 as a horse trail ride, where the objective was to complete the 100 mile trail from squaw valley to Auburn with a horse within 24 hours.
In 1974, being a veteran of the horse trail ride, Gordy Ainsleigh took up the challenge to join the horses in trying to run the course within 24 hours, but this time he was not riding it on horse back, he was running the trail by himself. 23 hours and 42 minutes later, Gordy was the first runner finishing the Western States trail. A few years later in 1977 the first official Western States 100 mile Endurance Run was organized with 14 runners participating in it.
Nowadays there are around 370 runners that are allowed to participate in the run which is considered as being the start of ultra trail racing. Besides the historic importance of the race, the awesome environment and the challenging course of 100 miles and 1800 feet (roughly 6000 meters) of positive elevation makes this the number one on my bucket list.
Getting a starting bib is a process of qualifying by running one of the 100 km or 100 mile qualifier races and getting lucky in the lottery. In recent years there are usually between 100 and 150 runners that are able to finish it within 24 hours and are awarded a silver belt buckle for this achievement. The final cutoff time is 30 hours and around 2/3 of the starters are able to finish within this.
And Gordy? After more than 40 years he still participates in the run he has initiated back in 1974. As a founder he is awarded a starting bib by default and he is already on the 2016 entrants list. Although he does not reach the finish before the 30 hour cutoff time in the last editions, completing this race at the age of 69 is earning him a huge amount of respect and admiration.