Written by Stef Schuermans - http://126.96.36.199/~meneerstef/CharityRun/
In the beginning of May 2014 I not only challenged myself, I challenged everybody I knew. I told everybody that when they would donate to the foundation of Leo, I would run. For every donation made I would run further. In the next months I saw the amount rising and by this, I also saw the distance rising. First I got to 50, soon I was at 100 and than it got scary … Very scary! In the end I ended up having to do 139km and 279 meter due to having raised 4703 zl or 1175 euro.
This is the story of the run…
Since there was no race I would be doing this in but more a solo-supported effort I arrived at work with my stuff and left with a colleague who was living south. After a 100 km ride and a 30 km hitchhike I arrived at my starting spot. Here I had the last solid food and it would take me almost one and a half day until the next time of solid food.
At exactly 18.26 I started, ready to run for 24 hours and finish around the same time in Lodz in Piwoteka to sit down with a nice fresh beer but the road to get to my beer seemed so much further and actually was that much longer!
Since I left right after eating I decided to start very slowly. I was in the citycenter of Csestochowa and actually wanted to take my time to see it because I had never been there. The first kilometers was a bit of jogging and walking to see the sights and I was actually enjoying them. Nice sights and nice things to do.
Upon leaving the citycenter I quickly stopped at a small shop to buy water since I started without and I discovered that the average biologist would show a huge interest into my camelbag, unfortunatelly I was sure that my inside wasn`t so happy with it but I still filled it, you never know what would happen later on in the run and continued running.
After 10 kilometer I came on the road I had to follow for more than 30 kilometer and this was a real disaster! Extremely busy road and a constant of 30 meters running and getting of the road. Progress was still there but I was spending loads of energy on a small distance …
Soon night was setting and it was getting dark and I was still on this stupid road making slower and slower proces. After 37km I finally arrived at the end of this road and I was exhausted. Big lights of cars, trucks, … Going of the road into the higher grass every 100 meters and a lack of sleep. It was time to slow down a bit otherwise I would be completely blown up by the time I would reach the 50km.
I reached the end of the first marathon around 2 o`clock in the night after going for 7 and a half hours and it was time for a small nap. Big lights, busy road and a marathon it had killed me so I laid down in a small busstop and closed my eyes. 20 minutes later my alarm went off and I snoozed it for another 10 minutes.
It was time to go again, I was on a smaller road with less cars and I would be able to make some progress before my support car would arrive in an hour. I only forgot one thing … My legs were sore and after struggling for an hour I had barely done 3km. Here my crew let me know that it would take them longer and my battery of my phone died and I slowed down to 2 or 2.5 km an hour. I was dying and had barely done 47 km, still had 93 or double of what I covered to go.
In the next village there was a surprise which would speed me up though! Some stupid owner didn`t place their dog behind a fence and I was running away from a massive dog (the white kind a lot of old people have lol) 2km in less than 10 minutes and finally the dog let me go. The good thing about this was that I was running again and I kept running for a few more kilometers!
After sending a message to Ania `Bieliki, I wait there, battery death` with the last 2 minutes of battery in my phone I continued running and upon arriving in Bieliki I saw the headlights of the Volkswagen I had been hoping for so badly. 200 meters to go till the crossing where they were heading for, I had now done 55.5 km and was sprinting! The sad thing was that I missed them by 20 meters and they seemed to have missed me and passed the crossing… Where were they heading and would they come back? Would I sit here in a town of 50 people for the rest of my night and what to do? 5 minutes later I saw a car coming back and was so happy to see some friendly faces after being alone for 11 hours …
After my sleep in the busstop this was my second longer break and I loved every single minute of it, after being out for so long alone the company did me good and after some Cola and more water it was time to go. This time in the company of someone and I was walking next to my girlfriend more north…
A kilometer or two later Kamil was waiting ready to run with me, it was time for running because we needed to get some kilometers done if I still wanted to finish on time. All was going great for the first kilometers and we were making good progress. The roads were calm and we were enjoying a stunning sunrise in the morning.
Kamil stayed with me for 10 kilometer or so and it really did me good, the newfound energy from the company had me going pretty fast but soon I got a lesser moment and it was time for some walking and more and more breaks again. We now were at a point where the car wouldn`t be able to take the same road and I continued again with Ania over a beautiful cyclingtrack south of Belchatow.
Since I started Belchatow had been the goal. It was 80 kilometers into the whole distance and would mean a good benchmark for me since I was well over half of the distance and it would be great to get there. After the beautiful cyclingtrack Kamil was waiting again and he made me run again. Though the speed was nothing compared to at the beginning we made very good progress and did 9 kilometers in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Finally we were in Belchatow where Ania was taking a nap in the car and I would spoil myself again with a longer break. 80 km done, 60 km to go and I just ran the last 9 kilometers. I was happy and still feeling ok. Apart from the first marathon, the last 35km went pretty fast and I made good progress. Icecream!!!
I was now 80km far and from the start this was always considered the halfway point in my head. This was the point of no return and I just had to continue. The first 20km went smooth, 60km of suffering later I was in Belchatow eating icecream and ready for the next 60km which would bring me in Lodz and finally get me to Piwoteka to get a beer.
I had Kamil and Ania with me which was a great support but I knew I would need them at the end more than I needed them now and I still had 60km to go to safe them for later I decided I would like to run a bit on my own to give them some sleep in the course of this and also to save their legs for later. Both of them had already done a lot of kilometers (more than I actually wanted them to have done at this stage) and they both hadn`t slept the night either.
So I set of in Belchatow alone and feeling ok for a stroll through the communistic flats which seemed to be everywhere and soon I found myself on the other side of Belchatow on a big road again with a very nice cycling lane and I was running again to see the car again after a kilometer or 4 to see that Kamil was asleep in the car and that Ania was waiting for me with some water and more elektrolytes. A few minutes later I was off again with no idea when I would see them again since Kamil was occupying the drivers seat while being asleep. Most importantly I was running smoothly still and making good progress! I found myself going of the big road and was running in the fields and feeling good. This was going good and making more and more process and suddenly there was a car with a Belgian license plate showing up behind me. Kamil obviously woke up and when passing me I told them to wait two kilometer further since I wanted to saviour the moment of me running instead of strolling and making this progress.
A kilometer further I bumped into them at the crossing we were meant to be, I sat down while Ania took care of water and a gel and off we were again, still alone since I was feeling good. A kilometer further I discovered that this wasn`t the route and returned to see the Golf again. Quickly I told them to go to the point where I returned to measure how much extra I did, I wasnt planning on doing much more than I was supposed to do :-), and I continued my progress over the road and felt ok but was back to walking. Half an hour later I could get myself back to running and a kilometer or two later I found myself back at the car again (always great to see some friendly faces when going through hell yourself).
Kamil joined me now for a longer while. This part was going to be 6 km I saw on my schedule and I needed someone closer, my mind wasn`t in this anymore and the small pains were becoming cramps and I started to suffer badly now. Someone closer to me would be nice to keep me distracted from what I was actually doing and at the same time keeping the forward progress going.
While in the previous stages I was still running this now started to become an impossible task so I went back to what we had been doing before. Running and walking for 20 seconds had now become walking and sitting on my ass for 20 seconds. Though getting a DNF became less and less an option and not even something that was in my mind. It now became a matter to get closer to Lodz, meter by meter and no longer kilometer by kilometer. Every step was getting me closer to my goal and to the full return of the donated money.
If it wasn`t for the promises I made to a lot of people this would be the moment I would just stop, get in the car, take a shower and get pissed in a bar with a feeling of shame and a feeling of accomplishment. This was going to be make it or break it… But forward we went, always forward. Kamil was motivating me just to try running again but cramps were everywhere the moment I tried to run so I went back to 4, 5 or 6km an hour walking. But even that was hard to do and often enough I had to sit down because I really couldn`t anymore…
After 6 km we arrived at the car again and I was happy to see Ania smiling when seeing me and a happy face was something different (no bad feelings) than Kamil who had joined me for the last hour and a bit who heard me whining from the beginning to the end. One more marathon to go!
After more water, gels and a cola I asked Ania to move the car exactly 3.3km. This would bring me to the lovely mark of 100km and off she was and Kamil could hear me whining again for more than half an hour. But this time it was different, in my mind there was a new finishline built in 3.3km and I was running again. Not that the pain was less, the pain was worse! But I wanted this over and make it to 100km so progress was surprisingly fast. and a bit later we arrived at the car. 100km done, a bit less than 40 to go. Progress was going fine and I was getting close but every single part of my legs and feet was in pain at the moment …
100km done and 39 and a bit to go. I was more and more feeling like I was in another world and no longer part of it, the only thing I kept doing in my head was pushing myself forward and convinving myself that great things would happen within 10km, 100m or even as little as 5 meters further.
Ania and Kamil left me behind here and I would be on my own for the next kilometer. These moments always gave me the time to update facebook, reply to texts or just watch around how birds fly (they seemed to fly different somehow).
After 2 kilometers I was awaited by a smiling Ania and Kamil in his running shoes, ready to make me run (ambitious but thanks again). We told Ania to wait 6 kilometer further and off we were. The first 3 kilometers I just walked, though still with a good spirit but in pain and after this walking I tried to run again. 100 meters was all my legs had but I was so happy to use other muscle groups. This kept going on for a while, running 100m and walking another 500meters and in the end I saw that beautifull Volkswagen again! You have no idea how beautiful silver VW`s are when you have been looking forward to seeing it again.
My bottle was filled again, I ate more gels, drank a cola and off we were again (these breaks would in general take me 2 minutes to 10 minutes depending on how I felt). Kamil was still with me and I was savouring the company but the company was pushing me badly. This became the point where I became unfriendly to him I think. Somehow my mind kept telling me that I could do it slowly as well or sit down for a bit but than Kamil would tell me I had to keep going while the rocky surface was so soft, so nice to sit on, so enjoyable, so perfect! Why did I have to walk? Can`t he see I was suffering, can`t he show some compassion?
Thinking back about this, and whatever I told you in the next few hours, sorry Kamil!!! (again!) Without Kamil pushing me I would probably be stretching my legs and relaxing there for a day or three … It was so nice!!! After three kilometers of walking, sitting, walking, … There became more and more need of stretching and sitting and stretching and sitting. The moment I was on my legs I was in pain and I had cramps all over my legs.
Kamil still tried to make me walk more than sitting down but I now even started to get cramps the moment I was sitting down. Slowly we were getting further and further and suddenly we got a text from Ania saying she was parked a bit further up the road than planned. This was not what I wanted to hear now because the only thing I wanted was to be at the car and have a longer break, sit down for a longer time and try to get some liquid in my body…
On one moment I just decided to call her and tell her she had to come back, I had enough of this, enough of this pain and enough of whatever it was what I was going through. Even though it wasn`t that far anymore, just 20 something kilometers to go it felt bloody far
Ania came back and after sitting for 15 minutes it was time to go again but this time I would go with Ania, Kamil was a harsh harsh boy and it was time for some more distracting talking. Due to my break it was possible to walk again with less pain. The speed of the walking was well down now but there was still some kind of progress.
20 hours earlier I asked Ania to download some 2 Unlimited and in the middle of nowhere after being awake for 36 hours hearing 2 Unlimited is better than being drunk in a club. Singing along with the music (yes I know there are better choices of music but not here and on this moment, 2 Unlimited meant partytime!) I was walking, shaking my arms on the music and singing along!
A few kilometers further there was the beloved VW again and I lay myself on the ground next to it to hear more music playing! This time it was accordeon played by a group of people who were sitting on a carriage behind a horse! Luckily still no hallucination and there really was a carriage and a horse with people having a party. They chatted some in Polish but I really couldn`t be interested in what was going on around me, laying felt so good!
They offered Ania and Kamil some Wodka, but my request to get some seemed to be fully ignored, even though I wouldn`t mind a bottle or three to get the pain out of my legs. Soon enough me and Ania set of again and progress was still made. A kilometer further we arrived at the car again and I told Ania to join Kamil for a bit and I was on my own for another kilometer. 20 kilometer to go now …
20km didn`t seem like a huge amount of distance to go but with the feeling I had it seemed like I had to start all over again. We were of after 10 minutes and cramps kept going all over my legs and I was starting to feel terrible. My stomach started to protest, my back hurted and all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep. But with 20 km to go and 4 more hours till Piwoteka/the finishline I just had to push on.
The next 4 hours were hell though. Even though I ran for 200 meters (maximum) I felt like the only good idea was to sit down which I also started to do every 500 meters, or every 200 meters and sometimes even after 100 meters. I couldn`t do this. After 2 kilometer of sit lay walk sit lay walk it was 2 more kilometer till the car and I just had to go through. I decided to keep going for the whole 2 kilometer. No more sitting down, no more laybacking and just to push on. I was in hell but I came closer and closer to my Duvel (Belgian beer means devil) in the bar afterwards.
After the long busy road and 2 kilometers further we had to turn right, Ania told us she was parked at Carrefour around the corner. When turning this corner this was totally not what I was hoping for and I saw a light of Carrefour in the distance. I was broken, I couldn`t keep doing this and felt my stomach protest even harder and had to hang on a three for a while to see if I could throw up whatever was in there which was causing this. The end result was that before and after the same amount of bullshit was in my stomach and nothing was out.
500 meters? How far is 500 meters? Well, FAR!!!
I think speed here was 2.5 to 3 km/h (Kamil correct me if wrong) and without Kamil I would just crawl in a ditch out of the wind and hide for a few hours. Nobody needed to know what I was doing and nobody needed to tell me what needed to be done.
When arriving at the parking lot I saw that the car was ON the parkinglot! 50 meters of the road, that meant 100 meters extra. Tears now literally started to roll over my cheeks and I was not happy. I was yelling to Kamil who was now 10 meters in front of me that he needed to go to Ania, let her move the car, I was not doing an extra 100 meters, I couldn`t. Kamil ignored my whole plea and told me to shut up since we were almost there…
Upon arriving at the car I just walked to the trunk, opened it, took my sleepingpad and without saying a word I crashed. My whole body was shaking, my legs cramped up and all I could do was lay on my side waiting to feel better.
Ania became my big hero on this moment! She wrapped me in a sleepingbag, put a blanket around my head and told me to sleep. Here I only remember that it started to rain on one point but that`s all. I was under a blanket, I was where I should be, a bed!
20 minutes later I heard some noises waking me up. `5 more minutes`, `2 more minutes`, `1 more minute!` After 35 minutes under my sleepingbag I asked for my downjacket and sat up. I was feeling better, cramps were `doable` and I would continue but first I needed to get sugars in my body so I had another gel, a coke and some more water. When getting up to continue with Ania I had been there for 50 minutes.
During the time there Ania got worried about what was going on with my body, she had seen me shaking. Kamil said I needed 20 minutes (that`s why you need to have a long distance runner crewing for you, they never panic) and the people parked next to us suggested to call an ambulance because this wasn`t normal …
16km to go and actually when getting up I felt way better, I was still walking slow but I could think again and could have a conversation again. Ania was next to me and we continued our walk. After 7km we met up with Kamil again and I had still 9km to go. How was I going to do this?
My father had been trying to call me now for more than 2 hours and I decided to call him back. I told him how I felt and he suggested to continue tomorrow. Perfect I had a plan but first I asked Kamil and Ania what to do, they had seen me crash 7 kilometers ago and knew how I felt. Kamil said it was a good idea, Ania said I wouldn`t be able to walk tomorrow and now at least I was making forward progress…
We packed our stuff again and off we were. 9km to go …
Long story short 139.5 km done in 30h45 minutes. Next time I do something in the mountains and way less concrete.
Thanks everybody who donated to `let me do this distance` and mainly loads of thanks to Ania and Kamil. Kamil though it seems like I hated you sometimes (which is actually true) I am very glad you pushed me this hard and you kept speed up so my progress would be faster! Without you I would never have made this!!! Ania thanks for being there with me and walking so much with me! Kamil ended up doing 38km with me and Ania 31km which is probably the furthest she ever did in a day!
Thanks a lot to both of you!
And for those still enjoying my reports please make a small contribution:
Name of the foundation:
Fundacja Pomocy Osobom Niepełnosprawnym “Słoneczko”
Adres of the foundation:
Stawnica 33, 77-400 Złotów, Poland
Account number for Donations:
IBAN: PL 89 8944 0003 0000 2088 2000 0010
SWIFT: GBW CPL PP
With the note:
Darowizna na rzecz Leo Hueckel-Sliwinskiego 36/H