If the normal marathon is no longer enough, what then? Our columnist has had one or two borderline experiences himself, like a few years ago at the Jungfrau Marathon. An incredible German runner also won this marathon at the weekend.
If someone had told me ten years ago that I run 42 kilometers in a row, I would have laughed out loud. Six years ago even ten kilometers was a terrible agony. And today? Now and then – when the asphalt itches me – I also run an ultramarathon from time to time. Or a run that is significantly more demanding than a boring marathon.
Mike Kleiß has been doing sports since he was a child. “Those who exercise achieve more” is his motto in life. Running was always his favorite topic. For seven years he has been running between 15 and 20 kilometers almost every day, often in marathons and sometimes in ultra marathons. So far, our columnist has published two books on running. He is the founder and managing director of the communications agency GOODWILLRUN. Mike Kleiss lives with his family in Hamburg and Cologne. He writes about running here every Thursday.
And as I write this, I shake my head in disbelief. Because it all seems so unreal just looking back ten years. I’m not alone in that. Most of us are like that. Hardly any other sport allows you to improve so much so quickly.
Once you have completed the first marathon, you often sign up for the next one. For many there is no stopping them, the search for the limit experiences has begun. I’m no different than a lot of runners. I’m no better or more reasonable.
But on the contrary. Even an upcoming meniscus operation could not stop me at the time. The Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland was a must. No matter how. borderline experience. I don’t know about them, but basically giving up is not an option once you’ve made your decision.
I am very grateful to my doctor – Doc Paul Klein from the Mediapark Clinic in Cologne. Back then, he left the decision entirely up to me to complete this extreme mountain marathon. With the words: “If you think this is good for you, do it.” I took his worried expression very seriously.
In a nutshell: The Jungfrau Marathon is certainly one of the most beautiful runs in the world. More Swiss kitsch is simply not possible, in a positive sense. You run almost in a film set, from one goosebump to the next. The run from Interlaken to the Kleine Scheidegg cannot be surpassed in terms of beauty, almost in the shadow of the Eiger north face.
They are carried by blaring alphorns, wild Swiss people cheer them on with “Heeeja, Heeeja” and even in the mountains the inhabitants hold out. They wait for them. With a friendliness that you will rarely find anywhere in the world They also urgently need positive energy because they cover 1800 meters in altitude.
The gradients are so brutal that sometimes even professionals can only walk here. The weather can change suddenly in the mountains. So I stood at two degrees and heavy rain on a mountain moraine, two kilometers from the finish and stuck in a runners’ traffic jam. The path was too narrow for an overtaking manoeuvre. The meniscus wasn’t my problem, it was the cold and the extreme exertion. Although I deliberately walked slowly. And I looked around me at the faces. And they all felt their limits, some had gone well beyond them.
This year one of the most successful runners in Germany crossed these and probably completely different borders. Laura Hottenrott from Kassel usually runs a marathon for around 2 ½ hours. She has always been a bit overshadowed by the great international runners, at least since last weekend you have to know her name.
She just won that Jungfrau Marathon in an inhuman time of 3:22:57 hours. For a long time she was in second place behind Kenyan Esther Chesang, but then Laura caught up with her shortly before the finish. “It was so hard, but I really wanted to win,” she said, arriving exhausted.
A marathon that just always goes uphill. An extreme burden not only for the body but also for the mind. Laura Hottenrott was able to reconcile both. One can only bow deeply. But, for all amateur runners, one thing should be clear: Even if the trend is increasingly towards extreme runs, please never forget where we come from. Let’s never ignore the signs of the body. Let’s listen to our minds.
From overweight chain smoker to marathon runner – a success story
And even a ten-kilometer run is often adventure enough. Or to say it with Friedrich Schiller: “We rarely reach the truth other than through extremes – we have to exhaust the error – and often the nonsense – before we work our way up to the more beautiful goal of quiet wisdom”.
That’s how it works.