Going the Distance
The full moon was slowly dipping lower in the sky, as Mann, McIntyre and I piled into 1SG’s VW at 5 in the morning to head off on a journey that would cover 234 miles (driven) and another 26 miles (on foot). In other words, a Volksmarch Marathon.
It was a typical winter day in Europe as we started the Marathon, with temperatures hovering around freezing, a bit of fog, and no hopes for much warmth. We layered up with hats and gloves, and headed out of the town of Clermont, Belgium as it was just getting light. Eventually we ended up winding our way across the borders of both Germany and The Netherlands before returning to the finish in Belgium.
The highlight of the Marathon was where the 3 countries come together at a big lake and dam. We took the elevator ride up a huge tower located there, and then walked along the dam, under the shadow of a huge stone lion.
This was Mann’s and McIntyre’s first Marathon, so we were hoping for flat trails, nice paths, and fast times. The dream was shattered early on, as the trail entered a muddy cattle field covered by a layer of fresh snowfall. We managed to keep our shoes dry in the field with some quick footwork, but then the trail wandered into a narrow lane that seemed more like a sluggish stream than a trail. After more sections of steep, slippery trails and boggy fields, our shoes, socks, and pant legs were muddy and soaked.
I slipped and almost fell so many times, that it seemed like bad karma would ensure a faceplant in the mud before the day was out. Luckily for me, both McIntyre and 1SG decided to fall instead of me! Mann and I tried to contain our mirth, but the sight of their muddy pants and hands was too funny to hold in. We took pictures to document the mess, and then got their hands washed off with a handy Camelbak.
Along the route were 6 checkpoints, where we stamped our Startcards and munched our way through pastries, cheese sandwiches, coffee, and beer. McIntyre bought something that looked like a muffin, but turned out to be a big meatball, topped with a bit of very spicy mustard!
After burning 2,624 calories (according to my heart rate monitor), and gaining and losing way too much elevation (as per Mann’s GPS), we finished in a very respectable time of 6 hours, 52 minutes! We drove back blasting music, stopped at McDonalds to regain lost calories, and returned home as the full moon was reaching high into the sky.
Kudos to McIntyre, for discovering 4 new countries (France, Luxembourg, Belgium, & The Netherlands) in the course of just 2 days worth of volksmarching!