New personal record of 73km
It all started about three weeks ago when I realized of the group MegamarschVIPs. Which came to be when they started following me on Instagram. I quickly reached out and learnt of their Facebook page plus group.
MegamarschVIPs is a training group/community in Munich which organizes weekly hikes to train for the various Megamarsch events. They also provide weekly videos usually on Friday with valuable information about various categories like foot wear or socks.
A Megamarsch aka Mammutmarsch (two different event organizers with the same challenge) is either 100km within 24h or 50km within 12h challenge.
After inspecting the group, I saw that they are hosting a night ruck to train for the night portion of the Munich Megamarsch. Though since I have done a couple of night rucks before, I only wanted to go to test out the distance and hiking in a group. Since till then I mainly did solo rucks which is a totally different ball game in itself because of all the self discipline one needs to continue.
Thus I told the organizer that I will be joining them with some pre-distance of 37km. This is the distance from Gröbenzell to Wolfratshausen. I have attempted this section before, but sadly quit after 30km. Though one thing I should mention about the previous attempt is that I did it with 18kg starting weight. So in the end, I will be combining multiple challenges into one big one.
One new thing I tried out is to get a constant stretch and rest routine which I have started in the last ruck.
- Every 10min I took a picture of my view until night fall.
- Every 30min I took at least a couple sips of water to combat dehydration. This creeps up upon you quicker than you notice and can substantially diminish your physical capability.
- Ever hour I did a round of dynamic and static stretches especially for the hips and glutes.
- Every 4h I had a Huel shake to keep my energy levels high plus they are loaded with electrolytes.
With all the rucks I have done in the past month, I think I am pretty solid with which gear I need to take with. There were only some minor alterations to the previous gear list.
I did add electrolytes to the list. Since I did notice after the last ruck I felt quite down until I drank the solution. Though I also took it along to experiment with it and it might help with the hot weather.
One thing that I excluded was the glass jar with walnuts. In the past rucks I never even touched the jar. Thus I have been carrying along extra weight. I didn’t though want to exclude the walnuts in general, thus I just replaced the jar with a Ziploc bag.
With the jar I also excluded all other pouches used to store the separate equipment cables. Though in the next ruck I will undue this because of its convenience and not going through the hassle of untangling the cable salad.
Since the last ruck the WrightSocks I ordered came. Thus I got to test them out by today’s journey.
Next section: more on Huel and Tasmian Tiger ruck
One thing to add on about Huel. When you make the drink depending on the proportions you will either get a lot residue or just a bit. And if you do get a lot, it will start fermenting which will give off an awful taste by the next shake. To prevent this there are two approaches to take. First you could use less Huel powder thus making the drink not very thick. And second, rinsing out the drink after consumption.
I per se did both. I previously used 125g of Huel per 500ml of liquid. Though even after vigorous shaking not all the powder would dissolve and one would get a good heap of residue. To combat this, I dropped the amount I used per shake to about 80-100g.
To achieve the rinsing out, one would need water. Well that either means one needs to use the water one is carrying or finding a valuable source. Since the second option basically doesn’t exist, means the first solution is the only option.
Though does one really want to carry an extra bottle just for rinsing? Of course not. Thus the next question is how to get the water from the bladder into the Huel shaker.
Well one would want to believe that gravity could help with this. Though the truth to the story is that one has to store the water in one’s mouth and then spit it into the shaker.
After rinsing one has the question if one should throw away the water or drink up the mixture. My answer is the latter because of value of the water. It does take some time to get over the idea and disgust of drinking one’s own mouth water again.
Tasmanian tiger ruck (Source)
In the last rucks I had all kinds of pains but two of them came directly from the ruck. The first is lower back pain and the second is tail bone pain.
The lower back pain wasn’t 100% due to the ruck but a portion was caused by it.
The first reason is that I didn’t use the ruck to its fullest potential. I was carrying it with poor form especially its X-frame didn’t give me any support.
Further the way its plastic is molded, the bottom edge of the back plate rested right onto my tail bone which over time created pain to that region.
I first thought that it was due to the edges of the steel plates I was carrying around until I noticed that it also happened without the plates. Thus to combat this issue I used some pipe insulation (foam like a swim noodle) that I place around it.
It did wonders and haven’t had an issue since.
Back to rucking
First challenge to get to Wolfratshausen.
I started the ruck on April 20th 2019 without a T-shirt to combat the heat and to keep the shirt dry from sweat to prevent shivering in a later state. Though one mistake I did is not to put on sunscreen since I thought I wouldn’t be overly exposed to the sun rays. Sadly this wasn’t true and did get a burn though it wasn’t too bad. My lips got the most of it and the next days were fun.
The heat was so bad that it dried up the air heavily and hurt to breath in the air through one’s nose. Drinking water did help a bit with it and splashing water onto one’s face as well.
Luckily I didn’t have to bare this pain too much. Since in no time I was in the cool forest which was a bit more humid than the fields.
Going audio free
One thing that I wanted to try on today’s journey is to do as much as possible audio free, meaning without podcasts and co. Though as hard as this sounds it ain’t that hard.
Podcasts and music are great distractions to make time seem to pass by quicker or to make the whole experience less of a struggle. Though there comes a time when one just cannot focus anymore on the content and the brain just shuts off processing it.
Aches and pains
Every time doing a ruck I always hope for no pains, aches, or discomforts. My distant goal that I want to achieve is to walk 100km without any of the mentioned pains and aches.
Though as much as I dream of this state of being, I know it won’t happen any time soon. Since I am way too much still a beginner and have a long time to get to this point. A lot of things belong to this challenge like flexibility, muscle plus band strength, and skin thickness. Thus I will be getting to spend lots of time with my old best friend, struggle.
The common pains/aches I hope that won’t come is first of all shoulder and neck strain, especially on the left side. Further any leg or foot pain, especially in the hips, knees, and ankles.
Though to my luck I got to endure all the lovely leg pains from knee pain which started already after 30km all the way to hip pain which randomly came and went.
The knee pain got much worse when descending downhill to the point that I was waddling like a penguin. Later in the ruck due to dropping temperatures, the coolness of the air helped a lot with the pain.
Around 55km is when I experienced a new pain, calve cramping. Massaging helped a lot while also making it worse while in the act.
Another great discomfort was getting the ball rolling aka getting up and continuing rucking after taking a seated break. That moment when you have to throw your ruck onto your aching back and grease the joints to move past the aches just to get back into tempo to move forward. It was a slow acceleration process. Though once warmed up and in the flow all was good. One knew one shouldn’t stop, because in the stillness was where the pain laid.
I was in a pretty good pace for the first 20km. It only took me 3h12min to achieve this distance. The 30km didn’t take much longer with just above 5h.
The pace did drop substantially once nightfall hit and also while descending from Icking down to Wolfratshausen.
The descend to Wolfratshausen and ascend of orange moon
At the Icking train station is when I got to experience new waters. I knew I wouldn’t have too many issues getting to Icking since I have done it before with a heavier ruck. Though I have never made it to Wolfratshausen.
After surpassing the rails of the S-7, the trail became slimmer and slimmer to the point that it became a single track. It was filled with roots which I enjoy a lot. Also whenever it popped out of the woods you were basically right next to the rails.
Soon steps were added to the trail and man was that a painful endeavor. Bending the knee was pure pain. Luckily there was a railing to help by taking off some of the load from the knees.
Once the trail became wide enough for a tractor is when I saw the moon between the trees. I have been already wondering if the moon was even going to show.
I turned off my headlamp and was mesmerized by the orange moon as it was ascending over the distant hills. The strength of the rays were peaking through the trees as if it was nothing. It even lit up the path, technically, to the point that one could continue without artificial light, but I didn’t want to risk it.
I tried to take pictures of it. But a picture couldn’t hold its beauty.
In Wolfratshausen I had some time to relax while the rest of the crew showed up. I put on all the garments that I brought along and rested after doing a round of stretching.
I only had to wait 30min until the others showed. Thus my estimation of time needed to get to Wolfratshausen was on point. I did leave at 15.40 and estimated that it was going to take me about 6.5h and arrived at 22.20. I did want to play it safe and added an additional 30min just in case. The meeting time was 23.00.
Second challenge get at least to Bichl.
Breaking in period
Walking with a group is different and even more different if they are all strangers. One doesn’t know who is who. Forgets the names instantly after introduction. Gets to adapt to the pace of the group. One loses control of the route one takes and also the breaks. The whole freedom one had alone vanishes and is dependent on the leader.
Though with all those side effects there are also positives. One usually has a walking buddy where one can interchange experiences. One has someone to push you when you feel like you can’t anymore. There is usually someone to push or pull you aka first or last person of the group. One gets to change the group dynamic with your inclusion. One learns that one usually isn’t the worst person nor the best. Competition is such a great motivator. One gets to experience the now and talk bullshit about it. And much more…
Without knowing who is who, choosing your walking buddy is equivalent to your pace.
I tried to walk in the back or in the middle of the pack. But I was constantly worrying about stepping on the other people’s shoes. Thus quickly, I moved to the front.
Leaving and navigating through the city was a hassle. The leader wanted to go the shortest route where I wanted to go the simplest. The distance difference would have been negligible.
That was my first confrontation with the leader. Later again it will happen once we reach Bichl, where my map said something different compared to theirs. They would commit to my suggestion.
Basically everyone except me had their headlamp on. I didn’t understand why. The moon was so light that one could almost see color.
I could understand, to use it while walking against oncoming traffic for safety reasons or when walking through the woods but in pure moonlight it made no sense at all.
I did though slowly chip away at each member and question why they are using the lamp in the first place. Also giving a rhetorical question if it is to test out how long the battery life will last? Eventually through the night I did achieve it that every person turned off their lamps.
As soon as we got out of the city is when the pack started dispersing. At the beginning it was usually split in thirds all the way till the end where basically everyone was walking alone.
This dispersion was nice especially when starting last and catching to the head. It made starting from every resting spot a challenge. Since in the later portion of the ruck I was usually the last person to start after each resting break. Then it would take some time for my engine to warm up and once I was warm, slowly but surely, I would make my way up to the head. It feels great when one can surpass people.
The route was basically the opposite of the second night ruck part one. Very flat while following the Loisach upstream. Though in the mid-section the route leaves the river before coming back a good chunk later. It does seem random, but when looking at the map there is no better solution. When I did my first longer distance ruck last November I noticed this same dilemma.
Rucking the path was much easier than the previous time since I knew the path. Thus one knew where one was and long one still had to go.
“Es ist Arschkalt” (German for “It is icy cold”)
I did say that I fully dressed myself once in Wolfratshausen, though I did take off my sweater once I got warm. Eventually I did put it back on to conserve energy that would have otherwise been used to warm myself up.
As the night proceeded the temperature slowly but surely dropped. With this alteration, the others also started bundling up.
I was really confused at some of the statements of the others. They were some who were slightly overweight having at least two layers on and a jacket on top and complaining that it’s too cold. Then they look at me, thin as a bean pod and don’t understand how I’m not cold. Remember I also had shorts and they all had long pants.
It’s not like I wasn’t cold, I was eventually as well. But it wasn’t the worst cold I experienced. The first night ruck was much worse. The true shivering started once I was in the train on the way back home.
The last section
The sky was getting lighter, everyone shivering and questioning when will the sun show itself. The birds started chirping and one could see color again.
It was day, hurray!
Though that didn’t mean anything. Made it to Bichl but the next train first leaves in 90min. Well great…
Thus not to wait in the cold, the logical thing to do is to continue the journey further to the next train station which is in Benediktbeuern which is only 3km away. This is totally doable.
As mentioned above this is where the discussion of the route came into question. I showed them what my GPX data said and compared it to theirs. It was totally different which is quite weird. They did agree upon to follow my route. (Once home I checked online to make sure that I had the correct map and I did.)
The road to Benediktbeuern was breathtakingly beautiful. A lovely image of the full moon hovering above the slim clouds over the Alps with red hues in the sky was burnt into my mind. It was so beautiful that I just couldn’t take a picture of it. One had to experience it in person. Though I think, the real reason was that I was just too tired and cold to take out my phone for this spectacle.
I made it to 70km in about 14h. That is when I started questioning the fact: if I could achieve the last 30km in 10h. Could I do it or would I do it? Go through the suffering for another 10h just to achieve the challenge?
These are all questions I will get to deal with very soon. The biggest one up there is how much pain on route am I willing to endure to achieve the challenge of 100km within 24h.
I finished the ruck in Benediktbeuern and took the train home. It does feel great breaking my PR (personal record) by 18km.
The only real mistake I did is not to check the weather at various locations. I did check it for the start and end of the first part. But then assumed that it would continue to be so warm further. That assumption was highly wrong. Towards the morning the temperature dropped down to 3°C.
I didn’t plan sufficiently enough and it was a quite difficult as well. When you think about it, that the starting temperature was 21°C and the ending was 3°C, that is quite a high difference to be prepared for. I did have leggings to put on just in case it would be too cold to bare. Though I never used them because I knew I was almost there.