Tuesday, February 21, 2012

365 Days of Kicking Cancer's Ass!

That would be as of today... Suck it Cancer!

On the Monday following the Brocken-Challenge 2011 where I ran a personal best I was diagnosed with colon cancer. That was hard to comprehend then and hard to relate to now.

On 21 Februrary 2011 I underwent laparoscopic colorectal surgery and had the associated tumor and a portion of my colon removed. My oncology board (it's kind of weird to "have" your own board) awarded me a T2N0M0 cancer staging (it's weird to be "awarded" something like that as well). Without going into a lot of detail on cancer staging a T2N0M0 stage is considered a Level II cancer where the cancer/tumor extends into the muscular coat of the colon. The approximate five year survival rate is generally identified as 85%.

I may come back to all of this with a bit more detail a little on down the road. For now, it's time to celebrate!

Life is good friends! Embrace it!

Photo by Rainer Holland taken at the Seeburgersee during the 2012 BC.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Brocken-Challenge 2012 Photos

The start of a great day!

Over hill and dale...

If you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss

Brockengipfel, 11 FEB 2012

Brocken-Challenge 2012 Race Report

The Brocken-Challenge (BC) is a winter charity ultramarathon of approximately 80 – 85KM with a positive change of 2200 meters in altitude that takes place over a mixed surface course between the city of Göttingen and the finish on the Brocken Summit in the Harz Mountains. Proceeds from this the ninth running of the BC benefit the Hospiz an der Lutter, Kinderschutzbund, Göttingen and the CVJM Göttingen.

This, my forth running of the BC was the most challenging yet rewarding Brocken-Challenge I’ve participated in. An amazing event!

Registration for this year’s BC opened at midnight on 1 DEC 11 and filled to capacity at 20:15 the same day. The race is limited to a total of 150 runners; organizers started a wait list that closed on 19 JAN 12. On race day the event started with approximately 160 runners. Limiting the number of runners is critical based simply on the logistics of the race, the desire to limit the impact of the race on the local environment and a focus to keep it a friendly event. Each year I applaud the organizer’s efforts to limit the field of runners; it adds dramatically to the spirit and feel of the race. 2012 registration costs included 85 Euros for the race and then a couple of additional costs for tee-shirts, bus transfer from Schierke and the pasta party. ALL proceeds from these expenses go to the supported charities.

The BC route courses 80 – 85KMs of farm roads, forest, hiking and ski trails. The route varies each year based on the amount of snow in the Harz National Park. The course, which originates in Göttingen passes checkpoints/rest stops at Landolfshausen (11KM), the Seeburger See (16.1KM), Rhumequelle (30.7KM) and Barbis (42.5KM) over what is a large bowl like terrain feature. From Barbis the course enters the Harz National Park passes checkpoints at Jagkopf (53.8KM), Lausebuche (63.1KM), Koenigskrug (68.5KM), and Oderbrueck (72.4KM) before proceeding to the finish line on the summit of the Brocken.

The Brocken is the highest mountain in Northern Germany and is surrounded by the Harz National Park. The Brocken is a unique terrain feature in that it is completely exposed to the North German Plain. Largely based on this exposure its micro-climate resembles that of mountains of about 2,000 meters. The mountain rises above the tree line and experiences wild temperature and climate impacts. The highest recorded temperature was 28.2 on 12 AUG 2003 and the lowest temperature was recorded on 1 FEB 1956 at -28.4. In 1973 the summit was covered in snow for 205 days of the year. In 1958 the Brocken set the record for the longest period covered in fog when it was enshrouded for 330 days. The Brocken is the easternmost mountain in Northern Germany; traveling east in a straight line, the next prominent elevation is located within the Ural Mountains! See Wikipedia for additional details.

2012 marked my forth running of the BC. Unlike previous years I set out to go the challenge alone. In the past I had traveled with friends to Göttingen. I traveled to Göttingen on Friday, 10 FEB to participate in the pre-race orientation meeting and get organized for the Challenge. Like in past years I billeted in the Jugendherberge Göttingen which given its location, cost and atmosphere is perfect if you are looking for inexpensive practical quarters for the event.

As tradition has it The BC 2012 started at about 0600 following a cold, but great breakfast and final check in at the Hainholzhof am Kehr. Temperatures at the start were at an icy -13C (8F) and were to remain in the negative double digits throughout the day. It was damn cold!

I know that I’ve mentioned this in at least my last two race reports on the BC, but... Environmental conditions this year were among the toughest I’ve faced while racing based on the cold, snow and wind. I was permanently cold throughout the event. Not fully recognizing the impact of the cold on Saturday I carried my Nathan drink system with a three liter bladder of Gatorade and two waist bottles. With no exaggeration the bite and valve to my bladder were frozen fifteen minutes after the start of the race. Within an hour the bladder hose was frozen solid. Within that same hour the drinks in my waist bottles began to freeze and within three hours were frozen solid. I spent much of the day adding hot tea to a bottle and rotating it out of my jacket with sports bars and gels to prevent them from freezing. Staying warm, hydrated and fed became serious challenges over the course of the day.

I’ve not run the BC when the course did not have snow or ice on much of it and have seen the route changed given the depth of snow on the course. This year found us going into a course that after two very cold weeks and new snow on Friday night significantly changed its impact on runners. Given the temperatures and passage of runners over much of this new snow the final third of the course was extremely demanding with kilometer after kilometer of sandy beach like surface conditions that pushed runners to their physical and emotional limits.

Highlights of the 2012 BC for me were: One, the race itself – It’s great to be part of such a friendly charity event. It’s wonderful to see old and make new friends. Ausdauersport für Menschlichkeit e.V., Göttingen (ASFM) and their friends and volunteers put on one of my absolute favorite ultramarathons. And, two, the race environment – words fail me that describe the beauty of the Harz in winter. Simply breathtaking!

Take a few minutes to view complete race results and additional photos and reports over on the BC web site and within the BC Facebook site. Much is in German, but there some wonderful pictures and impressions that will give you an idea of the event and the people that race and support it.

The BC 2012 was yet another superb event hosted by the ASFM. Yes, at about kilometer 65 I convinced myself that if I could get through this I would not do so ever again! My calendar is however marked for the tenth BC in 2013! When does registration open? (smile)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Packed and Ready

Well... The packing list for the Brocken-Challenge is complete. As usual I've likely got too much crap with me, but... You never know!

One more night here at the house then we're off to Goettingen for the race pre-brief, pasta party and a night in the Youth Hostel. And then...

We're off and into 80 - 85KM of winter wonderland in the Harz National Park. It's snowing here; I wonder if their getting much of the same this evening!?! A quick check reveals that... Yep! Got snow... And news from the B-C website indicates that the entire route is now covered in new snow. Watching the B-C website and FB page the organizers look to have set up yet another great charity event. Definitely should make for a great weekend!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Forecast

Brrrrr... Things here remain, well... Frozen!

Conditions do however look like they are shaping up for the weekend. The weather forecast for the Brocken looks to include below freezing temperatures throughout the week, a bit of snow on Thursday, shifting to partly cloudy and a low of -12C on Saturday evening.

A web cam is available for the Brocken summit. Nice!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2013 UTMB Registration Requirements

The latest information on registration for the 2013 UTMB has been published and I like what I see. The biggest changes involve the new requirement to have earned seven points in a maximum of three races during the period 1 JAN 2011 and 31 DEC 2012 and standardization of what I'll call "lotery loosers". "The eventual losers in the draws will have their 50 Euro deposit reimbursed. The will benefit from a double opporunity to be drawn the following year which doubles their chance of success. In the event of being unlucky a second time, they will have priority registration (without pre-registration) for the same race the year after on the condition that they have the necessary qualification points.

From my perspective this is good news in a couple of ways. Personally, I'm in for the "priority registration" in 2013. Secondly, these changes will reduce the demand on the limited number of starting places (2,300). What with 10,000 people pre-registered for the 2012 race and the backlog from 2010 - 2011 at least it's a way ahead...