Unlike The Proclaimers we're not going to walk 500 miles. But together we're going to run 210 kilometers! Yep, I (that's Jesse) am going to run 160km and Fien is going to be kicking ass at the 50km. All that to kick off our fundraising for Oye LENA.
Yes, you read that right. The first blog on our website has absolutely nothing to do with bikepacking or cycling the Americas, but with trail running. Fien and I really like running. Especially trail running. Being out there in nature, maybe in a forest or conquering the trails in the mountains (even better!!). It's just... it's almost therapeutic. Ok, that's maybe a little dramatic.
What makes trail running so appealing to us, is for one: the running. Just propelling yourself forward with only your feet, one step at a time towards your goal. It's a really primitive and fulfilling thing to do, humans are after all: born to run! Secondly, but equally important, is the scenery! Trail runs can take you to incredible places, and going there on your own power makes it all the more rewarding!
In the past Fien and I have run some trails in Belgium, mostly around 20 - 30km. So nothing too crazy. But lately I've been progressing towards ultramarathons, Fien on the other hand is pretty satisfied with these distances.
In 2019 i've ran my first ultra in the Ardennen, it wasn't a race, just a loop of 60km i've made connecting some of the existing trail runs in that area. Jef Torbeyns and Wally Declerq joined me on this epic day of trail running. We even had a crew! Fien, Sarah and Jana followed us around on mountainbikes, meeting us in certain places to provide moral and nutritional support. After this, my knees where pretty beaten up, but in spite of that i got a taste for ultras right there. Not long after that we (Wally, Jef and I) signed up for a little more adventurous ultra marathon: Matterhorn Ultraks, 50km with 3600D+ in the mountains around Zermatt (Switzerland). Fien and a couple of friends crushed the 20km distance the day after. Oh man, it was epic!! The weather was amazing, the scenery even more. But as you might have expected... my knees where a bit beaten up after this one too. That made the second ultra, i had impulsively registered for, just two weeks later not the best idea. Trail du Besso, 55km with 5000D+, unfortunately didn't go so well. Due to my already sore knees i ran with a little caution in the downhills which slowed me down a bit, together with the decision from the organization to advance a cut-off time with 30min, made me miss said cut-off. So I stranded at 41km with around 4000D+ already done. I don't really see it as a failure, i see it as a good day in the mountains with a few hard-learned lessons. Fien though, she went and did the 26km (2200D+). Casually finishing in 16th place. Are you starting to see a trend here?
You are probably thinking "why am I reading all this"? But we are getting to it, so stay focused!
In the preparations for our big bikepacking adventure, I was thinking of maybe doing one last crazy trail running event so that I would probably be done with running for a little while. After a little research and looking what would fit into our timeline, I found the Grand Trail des Lac et Chateaux. They organise a couple of races varying in distance, but my goal was to do something C-to-the-RAZY, and there it was...160km!! I really didn't think very long about the fact that i wanted to do it (...just like with Trail du Besso and look how that turned out...), sometimes you just have to not think about things too hard and JUST DO IT (not sponsored by Nike). If you fail, you fail. Life goes on! *enter another philosophical sentence here*.
After a little encouragement, Fien found a race too. The XTRATRAIL Lavaux, they organise a 50km trail run in the south of Switzerland near Montreux. Never having run the marathon distance, this ultra with 2100D+ is going to be a challenge (even with her talent)!
I'll be running (or walking or stumbling) around for who knows how many hours, of course i'm not going to be alone! Fien (and maybe some unidentified others) will be following the race and going from checkpoint to checkpoint to provide moral support, provide some hot foods, drinks, spare clothes, etc. That means that if shit doesn't really goes to plan (Trail du Besso-style) and I end up running for 48 hours, Fien is going to be cruising along for 48 hours too. So in the end, it really is a team effort! One week later I will be returning the favour to Fien and support her the best I can for her ultra marathon (provided that i'm not in a wheelchair).
Ok, now you have come far enough! Here is the whole point of the blog.
Although I'm running this 160km, and Fien is running her 50km trail race because we really want to do it, at some point we started thinking: why not try to raise some money for the charity we're going to work for in Peru?! So from this day forward our fundraising campagne for Oye LENA has officially begun! YEAH!
So if you're feeling generous and want to help the children in Peru, you can go here and donate something. It also really helps if you share our instagram page and website with your friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances, etc.
We're going to be training pretty hard in the next few month and we're also further preparing for the big trip, so we'll try to update our instagram page and maybe write a few more blogs about the stuff we do (running related and/or bikepacking related, who knows...). If you liked this one already, or not at all, you can leave a comment below or DM us on instagram. What did you like, what didn't you like, what would you like to read in the future? Let us know, all feedback is welcome!