Friday, January 24, 2020


The not so extreme extreme tour

Extreme cold, extreme weather, extreme wind, the 24h Burgenland Extrem Tour has seen them all. This year was unusual with near-perfect conditions, dry weather, temperatures around the freezing point and almost no wind. Only the high fog blocked the sun throughout the day, painting the landscape in a diffuse gray light.

After last year’s participation had ended abruptly, I was looking forward to another opportunity to participate in this unique event. Months ahead there was no doubt that I would be well-prepared and ready. Sadly, reality strikes and in the last two months I skipped most planned trainings for various reasons, good or otherwise, and barely scored 40 kms without any long runs.

At 04:30 in the morning a happy crowd started the journey in Oggau. Thanks to the dry weather, the tracks were much easier to run and faster this year. The first supply stop in Balf offered hot tea and cold chocolate cookies, good for a quick stop, and I reached Hegykő about half an hour earlier than last year.

The tour continued on frozen dirt roads and hiking paths alongside the Fertő-Hanság National Park, best known for its bird population. At this time of the year the only birds I saw were starlings flying in formations. Leading through an absolutely flat plain, the paths never seemed to end.

I got as far as Apetlon and, with an extra round through the town, finished here after just shy of 60 kilometers running and walking. That's more than half the distance of the 24 h Burgenland Extrem Tour, still a few kilometers missing for the full tour around Lake Neusiedl.

Congratulations to all finishers, extreme thanks to the organizers for another well-organized event, and I will be back for the 24 Stunden Burgenland Extrem Tour in 2021! #running #fdl #livelovemove #BurgenlandExtrem


Sunday, November 3, 2019


68 kilometers: The Ups and Downs of Wien Rundumadum 2019

68 kilometers, 1525 m elevation, 90000 steps – that’s how far I got this year at the Wien Rundumadum, the running event around the city of Vienna. While I dropped out again, it still marks the longest distance I ever did, albeit at a decreasing pace, but more on that later.

Last year I felt much better prepared but had screwed up on coordinating with family, now I had everyone’s blessing, although my family still thinks I am crazy, and probably rightly so. There were many familiar faces among the 83 runners who gathered in the early morning, ready for the 130 km course. After picking up the GPS trackers and getting a quick race briefing, we started at 05:30 am.

Having failed on the training plan and skipped most long runs, I knew that I lacked both mental and physical strength for a long distance run and was expecting some ups and downs. What I was not prepared for was the first energy low and a serious slowdown after merely 5 kilometers at a comfortable pace. An energy bar later I was back on track and happily moving along, except for a short detour to Cobenzl after missing a turn at Kreuzeiche. Reportedly, I was not the only one literally going for the extra mile here.

The first supply station had little to offer that appealed to me, heavy donuts are not my favorite food during activities. Tired of cold iso drinks I settled for only two bottles of sweat hot tea, which unfortunately didn’t go well with the sweat gels, so I skipped those. The second supply station after Lainzer Tiergarten had sweat rolls, which were not too bad once salted. The only real food was the soup generously provided by Traildog Running, many thanks to the team for offering something hot and salty.

There I was joking about having enough of a buffer to finish the remaining distance by walking, however moving on, my pace, which was already around 40 seconds per kilometer slower than last year, continued to drop and I was only half way through. Despite the optimistic predictions of my smartwatch, it became painfully obvious that I would not reach the finish line within the 24-hour cut-off time. The only co-runner going at a similar pace had fallen behind a while ago, and the prospect of doing the next segment through the Lobau national park all by myself wasn’t terribly attractive.

As night was falling, I decided to drop out. I had done more than half of the course, including most of the inclines, run longer and farther than ever before, and overall was at peace with myself and the world. Needless to say that after a lovely family dinner and a good night’s sleep I wonder if I should have done another segment, or maybe more.

If nothing else, the experience certainly has prepared me better for the next opportunity to go around Vienna: looking forward to WRU 2020!

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Friday, January 25, 2019


Going extreme, briefly

The eight edition of the 24 Stunden Burgenland Extrem Tour around Lake Neusiedl took place this weekend. Having signed up and cancelled twice for health reasons, I finally made it this year. A big thank you to my friend Erich, whom I had talked into going for this together three years ago and who was kind enough to give it another try.

I was super excited the days before and somewhat relieved to see others talk about their rising panic as well, both the distance of 120 kilometers and the unpredictable winter weather make this more extreme than the typical running event. Fortunately the storage capacity of the running vest put a natural limit on how much I could possibly pack to feel prepared.

Following the spirit “LIVE LOVE MOVE”, as the organizers put it, the 24 Stunden Burgenland Extrem Tour is not a competition but a huge collective adventure, a road to new experiences, life-long friendships and also a path to yourself.  Right from the start  the tour is very relaxed, a large crowd of people moving along the narrow tracks, usually in small groups, not worrying too much about their pace, chatting and having a good time. 

The weather started out nice, with temperatures around the freezing point and only a light breeze, and the bright moonlight illuminated the snow-covered tracks up and down the vineyard hills (so much for Burgendland being flat). After slipping a few times on the snow-covered tracks, I once scored points for an elegant telemark landing that should later knock me out of the tour.

We passed the green boarder near Fertőrákos, and enjoyed the beautiful landscape and the sun that finally broke through the clouds. As we progressed to Balf, the first supply station offering tea and snacks, we decided to each run at our individual speeds. While I managed to stick to my planned pace on average, walking uphill and running downhill, my ankle was increasingly hurting and I was happy to reach the second supply station at Hegykő. Unfortunately taking a break here didn’t help, on the contrary. Getting back into my shoe I could barely walk, let alone run. Thus ended the tour for me early after just 34 kilometers.

Back in Oggau, the nice lady who recognized the finishers with a medal insisted that I should get one too, kind of an honorary mention I guess. Doing just one fourth of the tour was certainly not what I had planned but still a good experience, and above all I made new friends and learned a few things for the next time.

Congratulations to all finishers, who successfully beat the weather and the strong winds in the second half of the tour, extreme thanks to the organizers for a great event, and I am looking forward to the 24 Stunden Burgenland Extrem Tour again in 2020!


Saturday, September 29, 2018


Crazy I like, ultra I ran

It’s been a crazy week, starting with the Wachau marathon last Sunday, the Vienna Night Run on Tuesday and two days at a conference in Berlin, returning last night. Today I participated in the Wienerwald Ultra Trail and finished the 55 km Diamant-WUT in 08:25 hours. So proud to join the ranks of ultrarunners!

The day started somewhat chaotic. After a short night’s sleep I managed to spill water all over my backpack and the kitchen floor while trying to fill the water reservoir, switched to bottles instead which are easier to handle, then rushed to Purkersdorf to pick up my starter bag just ten minutes before the starting time. Ready, set, go!

The course mostly runs through forest areas, with a mix of forest roads and single trails, and some six or seven ascents account for a total nominal elevation gain of 1,900 meters, although my tracking device recorded slightly less. Weather conditions were just perfect, with clear skies and low temperatures. After a while we were a group of three,  Francisco Javier from Argentina and Ulrike, going at more or less the same pace, having a good chat along the way, occasionally one of us dashing off only to be caught up at the next ascent or supply station.

At the 45 km mark I was already super-happy that I had gone beyond the marathon distance and still felt pretty good, and together we managed the remaining distance, the never-ending series of smaller ascents before finally going back down to Purkersdorf, where we all happily finished within a few minutes’ range.

Thus ends a crazy week with a total of over 100 km in running competitions; time for a break now.


Sunday, July 8, 2018


Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon: Up to new heights!

Im Oberwallis im schönu Tal
Da löifunt alli widär Mal
Än Marathon mit Emotion
zZielband gseh, das isch diinä Lohn

(from the official Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon song “Alli gliich” by Sam Gruber)

Yeah, I did it! Seeing the finish line was the main goal for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon, my first full marathon this year. On Saturday I finished this fantastic alpine racing challenge from St. Niklaus at 1,116 m all the way up to Riffelberg at 2,585 m in an excruciating 7:22:13.5.

The weather forecast had started with rain and thunderstorms a week before the race and got better by the day, with only light rain on Friday when I arrived by train, and a perfectly clear sky and sunny weather on Saturday. An alphorn quartet, which welcomed the runners at the start in Sankt Niklaus, was the perfectly fit to the picturesque mountain landscape.  The first half of the run to Zermatt was quite easy, with plenty of shade along the track and only 500 m vertical height, and the headache that had plagued me for the first few kilometers magically disappeared.

The second half was more challenging, with steep inclines, mostly in the sun, and varying terrain from comfortable hike paths to rugged areas and single trails. The beautiful nature along the route and the absolutely stunning views on the king of mountains, the Matterhorn, make it well worth the effort and enjoyable. After all, this is not so much a race against the competition but against yourself – and the clock.

The small margin against the cut-off time was shrinking rapidly. With not enough energy or time left, I had to forgo the admittedly quite arrogant goal to take on the extra 3.4 km to the Gornergrat for an “insane ultra” (organizer Olivier Andenmatten) and happily settled for the marathon distance this time. What a relief when I crossed the finish line and received my marathon medal and the finisher pack!

Thank you to my wonderful wife for giving me this very special birthday gift and sending me off to Zermatt!

Also thank you to my running partners in crime for their support and encouragement. When I had mentioned the remote idea of going for the Gornergrat Zermatt Marathon a few weeks before the event to Egon Theiner, he suggested to give it a try: “Not sure about your current training level, but then, nothing ventured, nothing gained!” It was well worth it, and congratulations Egon on your successful ultra run.

Lastly, the organizing team and the many helpers deserve a big round of applause for making this an absolutely perfect event. With the many friendly and helpful people at the supply stations and along the course, everything just worked fine.

PS. Did I get to see the Gornergrat after all? Of course, I took the train up to the summit right after the run to enjoy the panoramic view.

Related links

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Sunday, April 23, 2017


Vienna City Marathon 2017: Slower than before, and happy about the result

Spoilt by the improvements in running in the first two years, I had to drop down a gear this year. After finishing the first few races in 2015, including two marathons and two halfs, and accumulating 1000 km running by year end, the following year was even better. The improvements over all distances brought me recognition and a nice collection of cups by the Running@IBM club.

This year was off to a slow start. Suffering from colds for several months, running was out of question. I reluctantly skipped a long-distance event only after luring a colleague to consider the event, and haven't been training much until recently.

With only two long jogs in the last quarter, going for the marathon distance seemed unreasonable, and I postponed the decision to the racing day. After a good first half I decided to go for the full distance anyway. The lack of training did show in the second half when I hit the wall around km 30 but eventually finished, slower than in previous years with 04:55:13 h.

Still an enjoyable run, happy that I made it through!

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Thursday, December 31, 2015


1000 km—Or: How I Became a Runner

When I started running some 15 months ago, my goal was to relax and live healthier.  If you know me, I haven’t been much of a runner before, aside from occasional runs through the Wiener Prater or along the beach a few times per year.

Today I completed my 1000th kilometer this year. I have run two full marathons and two halfs, competed in a trail run and some shorter races and finished ninth place in the local Running@IBM cup.

Why I started running

Like most nerds spending long hours in front of their computers, I had been sitting in my office chair for long hours, seeing my health parameters getting worse at every annual checkup, not to alarming levels but still, constantly gaining weight, and getting recommendations from my doctor to eat less and exercise more … and found tons of excuses why I had other things to do first and could never find the time.

Over the years I have admired sporty family members, friends and co-workers, including an Olympic walker, marathoners, ultra-runners and triathletes, and have drawn inspiration from their determination and their successes. But it was a newspaper ad from an insurance company that literally flipped the switch, a lonesome runner in the middle of the night explaining that some folks call him “Daddy” and he’d like to keep it that way for long.

Starting slow

And so I got my old sports shoes out and started running. Took the stairs instead of the elevator. Made an effort to eat healthier and intermittently switched to alternate day fasting (“weekday 10-in-2”).  Joined the Running@IBM club and made new friends there. Downloaded training plans and (here comes the nerdy part) wrote some scripts to ease importing them into my calendar. Bought a book on long-distance running.

The beginning was hard. I barely managed short distances non-stop. Soon I started seeing improvements, and in October last year I boldly decided to go for the full marathon distance in April and as an extra motivation join the #Run4CARE charity campaign. The initial response when I started telling people about my plans later on was usually along the lines of “You? Seriously?!”, usually followed by encouragement and support.

The first marathon

During winter I mostly followed my training plans, regardless of weather conditions. Facebook somewhat made up for the lack of a training buddy (finding someone nearby for midnight and early morning runs wouldn’t work out), the Likes and comments helped me staying on track. When I eventually finished the Wien Energie half marathon in March, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride, and even more so in April after doing the full distance at the Vienna City Marathon.

What was meant to be a once-in-a lifetime experience has turned into a bit of an addiction. I was hooked and just have to keep on running.

Happy New Year everyone, and Happy Running!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015


Vienna City Marathon 2015

Yes, I did it! Today I finished my first marathon race, the Vienna City Marathon 2015

More than 9,000 runners completed the marathon, of 42,742 athletes overall who participated in five disciplines.

We had a beautiful day, with sunshine in the morning and some light clouds and wind in the afternoon, and the volunteers, the co-runners and the spectators made  this a friendly and enjoyable event.

One of my favorite signs, displayed by a supporter towards the end of the track, read: “Going back now would be a bad idea.” So we kept running.

My finishing time was 04:54:15.

I dedicate my first marathon to my dad, an experienced long distance runner who ran the Vienna City Marathon before, in just over three hours.

Thank you everyone for your encouragement, support and advise, and also for the generous donations for the #Run4CARE charity run.

PS. One small suggestion for the organizers: Waste bins after the supply stations would be great to keep the track at least somewhat cleaner. Running on layers of crunching plastic cups and through seas of Powerade is no fun.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015


Wien Energie Halbmarathon 2015

Today I finished my first race ever, the Wien Energie half marathon 2015, in 2:06:26.

Weather conditions were fine, with 7°C, modest winds and no rain, and I had a nice run at almost constant speed throughout the race. I even ran right next to the unbeatable Lemawork Ketema, if only for a split second, as he was passing the field to start his third round. Thanks to the organizers, support staff, cheerleaders, drummers and spectators for making this a great event!

Now that I have completed the half marathon distance, I have even more respect for the challenge ahead of me.

Next month I will #Run4CARE at the Vienna City Marathon and raise funds for charity. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects.

Please help my quest and support the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. Thank you kindly!

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Sunday, February 22, 2015


Running for charity: Vienna City Marathon

40,000 runners from around the world will participate in the Vienna City Marathon under the theme “We are Europe” on 12 April 2015. I plan to be one of them and have signed up for the challenge.

I have three goals for the Vienna City Marathon 2015:
  1. Running the full marathon distance and finishing the race in reasonable time.
    This will be my first marathon. In fact, unless I find a good practice race, it will be my first running competition ever. Running the marathon should be doable still. I have run half-marathon distances just for kicks without much training. Finishing the race in reasonable time will be tougher. A friend of mine was joking that she walked faster than I ran. I will do my best but expect no miracles, anything before the cut-off time counts!

  2. Raising funds for “CARE – Packages for Children in Need”.
    CARE is the charity of my choice for the Vienna City Marathon 2015. Whether you want to help a good cause or just motivate me to complete my first marathon, please donate now to keep those packages coming:

    Raising funds for CARE and supporting children in need is an extra motivation to finish, if not an obligation to the charity team and to you, my dear friends, whom I trust to generously contribute to the #Run4CARE charity run.

    All donations will go directly to CARE in support of the “Packages for Children in Need” campaign. CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, providing disaster relief and supporting sustainable development projects. When crises or natural disasters force families to flee their homes, CARE is on site and provides emergency relief.

  3. Encouraging others to join in.
    Lastly, I hope that others will join in, too. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness and also to refresh your mind. There is nothing like an early morning round in the park to start the day. I can do this, and so can you!

Related information

CARE Österreich has been awarded the OSGS quality seal for charities. Donations can be made by credit card and bank transfer.

Update: The Wien Energie half marathon mid March turns out to be a good test race, so I will run there first before I attempt a full marathon next month.

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