I think I was about 9 when I did my first competitive running. Every race was just a game back then. Every training no else. I was explosive, fast. When I was 10, I was he fastest kid on the 60m sprint in all of Flanders. That meant the world to me. Flanders was the world to me back then.
My athletics team back then, AVMO, was more long distance & cross country oriented though, and around the age of 13 I was fully transformed. I didn’t always like it that much and often regretted losing my speed by the lack of specific training. Training became a bit of a job sometimes. A chore. Still, I loved running, getting out there. But things just got all that much more serious.
And then at age 16, my body decided to add about 20cm in one year, muscles & joints failed to keep up and I got injured. And that was the end of it. Until, somewhere in my early twenties, I got back in touch with my old love. And even though I’d always preferred the shorter stuff, I stared dreaming about running a marathon.
I got close a few times but got injured just as often, until I finally ran my first marathon on October 10 2010 in Brussels. Moreover, even though I’d been sick the week before, I finished nicely under my self-set time of 3h30 (3h26 to be precise)! And that was that! Another goal I could scratch from my todo list, time to move on in life.
Or maybe not. Not even a week after the marathon, I put on my running shoes again and went running, this time not in the streets as I had been doing for months & months in preparation for the marathon, but in the woods. A few weeks before, I’d been on 1-day stay in Bergen, Norway, and (since I was in full preparation for the marathon) in the morning, around 7 o’clock, I went for a run. I started off in the vivid streets of Bergen but soon I started climbing the flanks of Norway’s fjords. Higher. Higher! Not an hour later, I was looking down on Bergen from an altitude of over 400 meters. And I felt ALIVE.
Belgium has no fjords though. We hardly have any relief whatsoever. So when I was back home, I started running in the woods. I bought trail shoes, a hydration backpack and a headlight in order to expand my running hours. I started taking my running shoes everywhere I went, ran in every country I visited, explored woods, beaches, mountains. Running had once again become a game and the cycle seemed complete.
I never stopped running since. In fact, plans only got bigger and bolder. I ran Olne-Spa-Olne a few times, turned Crêtes de Spa into an annual tradition, Ardennes Mega Trail, Loop van Vlaanderen, La Bouillonnante, Trail des Bosses, Trail des Vallées du Chevalier and quite some others. I Ran Chamonix’ CCC and last year started UTMB, but had to quit around 110k and leave the race, unfinished business.
This year, I started the Start2trail project with my girlfriend, preparing enthusiastic (road)runners for their frist trail experience, trying to make the spark jump.
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