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. So around age 12, I started adding more distance to my training schedule and training sessions became me-time. I’d lie if I said I loved it from day one but, looking back now, there were definitely times where I caught glimpses of what running could become for me;
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. Starting over time & time again was demotivating, but I’ve always been stuborn.
And then, in October 10 2010 in Brussels, I ran my first marathon. 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 that first marathon, 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 altitude difference 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.
Since, I’ve run quite some trails & ultras, but