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Triathlon 360 degree2021-06-08T15:16:40+02:00

Triathlon 360 degree

Circumnavigating the world in triathlon discipline

I will start my next next record breaking challenge this summer: the longest triathlon, from Munich to Munich via the world. During my challenge will cover the distance of 120-Ironman’s (roughly 40.000 kilometers) – with a minimal CO2 footprint.

Starting in Munich I will cycle to Croatia. From there I will swim 456 kilometers along the coast towards Montengro. Back on the bike I’ll cross Europe and Asia until hitting the Chinese coast where I’ll be jumping onto a sailing boat across the Pacific Ocean to San Franciso. The next stage will be running 5040 kilometers across North America to New York. On board of a sailing boat I’ll then cross the Atlantic ocean to Lisbon and finally cycling back to Munich, where I set off around 10 months before.

I will start my next next record breaking challenge this summer: the longest triathlon, from Munich to Munich via the world. During my challenge will cover the distance of 120-Ironman’s (roughly 40.000 kilometers) – with a minimal CO2 footprint.

Starting in Munich I will cycle to Croatia. From there I will swim 456 kilometers along the coast towards Montengro. Back on the bike I’ll cross Europe and Asia until hitting the Chinese coast where I’ll be jumping onto a sailing boat across the Pacific Ocean to San Franciso. The next stage will be running 5040 kilometers across North America to New York. On board of a sailing boat I’ll then cross the Atlantic ocean to Lisbon and finally cycling back to Munich, where I set off around 10 months before.

There’s no planet B campaign with Oxfam! Help me make a change…

For every kilometer I run in Mexico, I would like to collect at least 1 EUR so that I can hand over at least 5,000 EUR to Oxfam when I arrive in Munich. For every Euro e.g. a new tree can be planted.

… or support my fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief.

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donated so far

With this fundraiser I want to provide 70 children from rural areas of Africa with a bike – and little bit of freedom. With your donation you make it easier for children, especially girls in Africa, to have better access to education and enable them to realize their own dreams. 134 EUR = 1 Buffalo bike.

Live Tracking for Triathlon 360 degree

Weekly Diary of Triathlon 360 degree

October 2020

WEEK 1

On September 26, 2020, it will finally start:
After the last hectic days of preparation, I’ll be standing on Munich’s Odeonsplatz at noon. It is cold and raining cats and dogs.
Nevertheless about 70-80 supporters have come and a group of cyclists who will accompany me for a while. Also my brother Siddy and our cameraman Markus Weinberg, who will ride along with me until Croatia, are there.
Out of Munich, into the foothills of the Alps, we want to cross the Grossglockner and I have to change the route for the first time. The Grossglockner is closed because of snowfall and Tyrol has been declared a Covid risk area today.
Instead we take the Tazzelwurmstrasse and the Tauernpass. On the Turracherhöhe there is 10 centimeters of fresh snow and only before the Loiblpass, over to Slovenia, it slowly gets a little warmer and we can dry our clothes at a hotel overnight.
We make a short visit to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana and are already in the evening at the Croatian border.
Through the national park Risnjak we approach the Adria and arrive in Kalobag in the evening of the 6th day, where the change for the swimming course is prepared.

 

WEEK 2

In the morning of day 7 I jump off the quay wall in Kalobag and swim south along the coast line. The water is crystal clear, but wind and current are against me. I only manage 8-10 kilometers per day and already after the 2nd day I have to get out of the water for 2 days to ride out a storm. When I am finally back in the water, I dare to cross the channel, 5 kilometers over to the island of Pag, where I finally find a supermarket in a village. I have eaten too little and a cut on my foot, which does not heal in the salt water.
The next day I drift with a strong tail wind and current, in high waves through the small islands towards the island of Vir. The waves become dangerous and I go ashore.
The next day I have a strong tail wind until noon, which I use to pass Vir and get back to the mainland coast, where there are finally again villages with restaurants and stores. I stay in the water for 9 hours and manage 16 kilometers thanks to the friendly wind. The next day I reach the city of Zadar, where I treat myself to a restaurant and a hotel.
On the 14th day I have to bypass the big industrial port of Zadar, because the ships cannot see me in the waves and are much faster than I can swim. I swim until Sukošan, where I have to take another rest day, because bad weather is predicted for

 

WEEK 3

I spend the 14th day in a small apartment, where I use the rainy day to rest.

The next morning I go into the water with a light tailwind. In two days I want to be in Biograd, where I have an invitation to visit friends I met here last year. Shortly before Biograd I feel offshore current and suddenly I experience a moment of shock when I realize that I am drifting away from the land and I can hardly get against the current. Five kilometers off the coast there would be an island in case of emergency, but I definitely don’t want to go there. After ten minutes full speed ahead I manage to get out of the current and swim close to the shore for the rest of the day.

Two difficult days with headwind follow, on which I only manage seven and three kilometers, but the infrastructure on the coast is finally good and the weather changes. The next days I expect best conditions. It is getting warmer, 18 degrees, and the wind stays constant on north – tail wind.
I make very good progress, but now I have to make some longer crossings of several kilometers from island to island.
I pass the channel in the little town of Tisno and now I have to accelerate to meet my father and Markus Weinberg on Saturday evening. When I go ashore on Zlarin, it is already dawning. I take a path over a hilly headland and come to the bay where Markus and my father are anchored with a sailing yacht.
The next morning I go back to the starting point and another six kilometer crossing follows. Very unpleasant so far from the shore, because in this area I can never be sure if the wind will suddenly change or if there will be a current. Good thing is that there are only a few ships on the way at this time of year.
Despite the wind in the afternoon, I manage to cover almost 12 kilometers again and have now completed the first third of the swim.

 

WEEK 4

Best conditions this week – 18-22° C warm, sun, in the afternoon mistral with light tailwind and little swell. Today I had my first unpleasant encounters with jellyfish swimming in my face. My full beard protects me a little bit, but the touches on my forehead and cheek burn intensely.
My father, Markus and 3 other guests are accompanying me the whole week by sailing yacht or dinghy to shoot for the new documentary about TRIATHLON 360DEGREE.
I still swim along the coast, but it is not straight. Therefore I have to make crossings of several kilometers from headland to headland again and again.
Today, after 200 kilometers, I broke the previous world record of the British Sean Conway for the longest swim distance he ever swam without support along the British coast. At the moment I have not yet completed half of my swim distance.
My wounds, which I got in the first two weeks of swimming, have now healed to a tolerable level. Instead, my mouth and throat have become inflamed by the much salt water. I cannot eat anything spicy anymore. The first wetsuit is completely torn open and had to be replaced.
After Trogir I experience one day of continuous rain and hard wind. I swim 3-4 kilometers and wait on land the next day. After another long crossing I reach Split the next day, where I spend the night and of course have a look at the old town.

November 2020

WEEK 5

Markus Weinberg and my father have left. Until Dubrovnic I will be alone again. The day in Trogier begins with pouring rain. I go into the water anyway, but when after 4 kilometers the waves get higher, I can’t think about getting forward anymore.
The next day the weather has calmed down. Before Split I have a 2 kilometer long crossing with lots of boat traffic. It is getting dark very early now and I don’t quite make it to Split. In the morning I swim the last kilometer to the port of Split, but I have to get out of the water because the wind is so strong again that it makes no sense to swim against it.
So I take a hotel room in Split for 2 nights.
On the day when the weather allows it again, I manage 14 kilometers along the coast. I am now in probably the easiest part of the swim course. From Split it goes 70 kilometers south. Always close along the coast, which has hardly any bays and is shielded from the open sea by the islands of Brac and Hvar. Calm water, no wind, 20 degrees and sun. Every few kilometers there is a village with a supermarket and restaurant – perfect conditions.

Meanwhile I really reached the halftime mark with 230 kilometers swum. Meanwhile 2 articles have appeared in the local press, which lead to people waving to me from the shore again and again. Once a kayaker comes looking for me.                                                                                                I pass the last bigger city, Markaska, where I take the 200 meter wide harbour entrance in a sprint. The landscape is fantastic. Crystal clear water and beaches that invite you to spend the night. At a distance of about 50 meters a group of surely 10 dolphins swims past me.

The last 5 days I was in the water for 6-7 hours each. The result is that the already healed chafing and injuries are open again. There are 170 kilometers left and I have the feeling that I am already approaching the final sprint.

 

 

WEEK 6

The week did not go quite as planned.
From Makarska I first head south, close along the coast. Towards evening I reach the small town of Igrane and am greeted by a Facebook follower Emil, who invites me to his restaurant and offers me his vacant apartment for the night.
A few kilometers further south I cross over to the tip of the island Hvar. The crossing is 5 kilometers wide and with a light tail wind no problem. My plan is to swim along the southern side of the island of Hvar until I reach the height of the northern tip of the Pelješac peninsula, and then make the 8 kilometer wide crossing.
In the evening I reach the lighthouse on the eastern tip of Hvar and swim to the village Sućuraj. I can spend the night in the port and the next day I set off towards my starting point for the planned crossing to the Pelješac peninsula.
Since it is still 15 kilometers to the starting point, I would like to cover the distance in 2 days to be rested for the difficult crossing.
After another 12 kilometers in the water I reach the bay Smokvina, my starting point for the crossing.
The morning starts windy for the first time and my window of time until it gets darker in the evening gets narrower. When I can finally swim away, I come into a strong east-west current near the shore, which pulls me towards the open sea. I break off and swim back to shore. Since I have no more food, I have to go back to Sućuraj.
In Sućuraj meanwhile the whole village knows what I am doing. I am invited for dinner and a fisherman lets me stay overnight on his excursion boat in the harbour. In the course of the evening some fishermen come by and show me where the currents are and warn me of suddenly appearing winds.
I realize that I cannot risk the crossing and decide to swim back to the mainland instead.
In the morning some villagers come to the lighthouse to say goodbye to me. I set course for the village of Drvenik, 5 kilometers away.
I will now continue along the coast and then cruise over to the Pelješac peninsula.
Still 2 weeks to Dubrovnic!

WEEK 7

When I reach Gradac, a smaller town, nothing is open except a supermarket. The next challenge is the big industrial port of Ploče, which I reach in the afternoon around 15:00. I think about swimming through the bay for a while, but decide against it, because there are also big cargo ships on the way, which don’t see me. So I go ashore to have a look at the situation from a higher point of view and then I walk towards Ploče, which is 3 kilometers away at the end of the bay. At some point a barbed wire comes up, under which I crawl through and enter a military base unnoticed. I notice this at the other end, where the barbed wire fence is equipped with clear signs. This makes it clear that I cannot take the same way back without being in need of an explanation.
Directly after the bay of Ploče begins the delta of the Neretva, which here flows ice-cold into the only knee-deep delta.
Where the river flows in, the current is so strong that I am driven far out into the open water and finally I get into the twilight. I swim to the small village of Blace, where I find an open bar, which unfortunately has no menu. The owner is sitting with friends at the next table having dinner and brings me a sheep’s head as a present. This is a very unusual food.
The next day I swim the direct way over, 5 kilometers to the village of Streser.
The following day I approach the construction site of the Pelješac bridge, which is being built here by China to bypass the passage through Bosnia to the enclave Dubrovnic. But first I have to get out of the water already after 6 kilometers, near Brijesta. During the last days I am constantly cold. Today especially. Here in the bay flow many cold rivers, but I think that the real reason is somewhere else. I haven’t eaten well for days and probably no more warming fat reserves.
At the construction site, which I slowly approach, they won’t let me swim through for the time being. The huge construction site is surrounded by bars, behind which the Chinese workers live. After long discussions, a worker accompanies me through the construction site.
After 2 days I reach Mali Ston, the narrowest part of the peninsula I want to cross here.
On the other side of the peninsula the water is a bit warmer again and I plan to cover 12 kilometers for the day. The first 6 kilometers go well. At noon I go ashore where there is a luxury restaurant where the sailors usually moor.
In the afternoon I set off to cross the bay. After 2 kilometers the wind freshens up so strongly that I have to swim and turn back. Back at the restaurant I am happily welcomed by the two owners Toni and Maja. I am invited for dinner and get an apartment to stay overnight.
The weather forecast for the next days is very bad. To Dubrovnic there are still 38-40 kilometers to go, but now I have to wait here until it gets a bit quieter.

 

WEEK 8

I am stuck. The weather is so bad that swimming is out of the question.
My hosts Toni and Maja are only here on weekends and are on their way to Split.
Now I’m alone in the bay and on the 2nd day I start walking back to Ston, 8 km in each direction, to stock up in the nearest supermarket for the next days.
After 2 days I can finally move on. The wind is still strong, but comes from diagonally behind.
I swim around the next headland and cross a 7 km wide bay. At the end of the day I have managed 11 kilometers. It is high time to finish the swim. It is noticeably windier now and the Bora often blows from the north, bringing currents and cold.
The weather forecast looks bad again. I know that I have to go somewhere on land again the next days. I had planned to take the shorter way along the offshore islands, where everything is closed now, and now I decide to take the slightly longer way along the mainland coast.
The next day goes well at first. In the afternoon the wind picks up and after 8 kilometers I turn off at a beach to wait for better weather.
Now I sit here for 2 days. The Bora is blowing with 20 knots of wind, but for tomorrow and the day after better weather is in sight. There are still 22 kilometers to Dubrovnic. I will swim around Dubrovnic to the old town and then go ashore in the old port. It’s a stupid feeling to have to wait again so close to the finish line, but the last weeks have taught me that it doesn’t make sense to swim in too strong a wind and end up stuck on some rock.

 

 

Arrival in Dubrovnic

November 25, 2020: After 54 days and 456 kilometres in the water my short, successful swimming career ends here. I am happy to have managed this, but I will not do it again.
I am happy to finally get on my bike again.

WEEK 9

After arriving in Dubrovnic there is a small party in the evening and already the next morning the bikes are assembled. The goal is to start around noon and to roll up the 90 kilometers to Kotor in Montenegro. For the departure, a few riders from the Croatian Triathon Association will be there for the first kilometers, the Croatian Television and Markus Weinberg, who will accompany me this week. Around 3:00 p.m. we finally get going and immediately we start climbing steeply uphill on a very narrow road with lots of traffic but a great view of Dubrovnic and the sea.
Since we started late, we reach Kotor in Montenegro only around 21:00 and head for a hotel. What we did not know: In Montenegro there is a curfew from 18:00 h because of Covid and the restaurants are closed. Nevertheless, the receptionist of the hotel manages to have pizza delivered. We were lucky.

The next morning starts with a highlight, the ascent over 24 serpentines with a magnificent view, up to the mountain Lovćen at 1600 meters above sea level. The last 100 meters to the summit we have to walk and experience an incredible view up there. From here you can see 80% of Montenegro, look over to Albania, Croatia and Macedonia. We start the long descent on a small gravel road to Cetinje, the old capital of Montenegro and continue straight on until we reach darkness and find a hotel for the night in a small town. I am happy to be on the bike again. On the first day I still had some pain from the changeover, but slowly I’m getting in shape again.
On the 3rd day on the bike we reach Lake Scutari in the national park of the same name and wind our way along a narrow road, which is always up and down, just above the lake. We reach the Albanian border in the evening and continue on to the city of Shkodra.

The next day starts with a small pass at 800 meters. Few cars, mostly old Mercedes and BMW, which often honk to greet. In the evening we come back into the darkness and have some trouble finding a hotel for the night.

The next day starts again with a climb on a road where we have to zigzag around the potholes. In the evening we cross the border to Northern Macedonia and drive directly into the city of Debar.

I really enjoy cycling again. The stages are with 120-130 kilometers rather short, but that is due to the bad roads and short days.

 

 

December 2020

WEEK 10

The morning begins cold. It is snowing and we have to cross a pass through the The morning begins cold. It is snowing and we have to cross a pass through the Mavrovo National Park and start the descent to Tetovo. A long valley leads us to the capital Skopje, where we drive directly to the Corona test center. We get the assurance to get the result within 20 hours.
The next morning we set off for Bulgaria. It is much colder than in Albania and towards evening we climb up to thousand meters where the border is. The temperature has dropped to -9°. We find a small store where we can warm up and drink tea and at some point my test results finally arrive and we can cross over to Bulgaria. There is a long descent on an icy road in biting cold and we have to pass 3 police controls. We arrive in the darkness in the city of Kyustendil, where everything is closed.
Markus leaves me the next morning. He turns here to fly back to Dresden from Sofia. My way leads me at -10°, on icy roads to Samokov, where I stay overnight. It is so cold that I drive with down jacket and everything I have. The next day starts with a small ascent and a long descent into the valley, which takes me to Plovdiv. It is depressing when everything is grey and foggy, intensified by the Bulgarian architecture. Grey, colorless buildings in socialist style. Even the landscape is monotonous. The side roads are in a miserable condition and the bigger ones are quite dangerous for cyclists because they have no hard shoulder. Reminds me very much of Russia.
After a stopover in Hamadil I finally reach the Turkish border. Here there are two crossings. The smaller one would be the right one for cyclists, but it would mean 40 kilometers of detour. I choose the big one near Edirne, which is a highway crossing. The Bulgarians let me pass, but on the Turkish side they have a problem with me riding my bike on the highway. I play stubbornly and after half an hour of discussion the problem is no more and I can pass.
I continue the 15 kilometers to the city of Edirne on the highway, which I have practically all to myself, because in Turkey there is a curfew on weekends – except for tourists and business travelers.
The streets are empty except for the dogs that chase me in every village. They try to bite my calves and I escape each time with a sprint. The few people I meet are very, very friendly. When I go out to get something to eat, I am not allowed to go in anywhere of course, I usually get a coffee as well.
I cycle a good 70 kilometers on dirt roads and at night I pass through a bigger city without any traffic. I still have 80 kilometers left to Istanbul, where I will arrive tomorrow afternoon.

 

WEEK 11

On Monday, the weekend shut-down is over and I look for a way through the traffic chaos into Istanbul. I choose the highway, which widens from 2 to 4, to 6 and finally to 10 lanes, because all side roads are hopelessly congested.
Finally in the city, I meet Simon, a bike traveler who has driven here from Germany and from here on is stuck for the time being.
I enjoye the city with all its mosques, the Bosporus and the wonderful food. But I also use the time to visit different consulates. The question is how it will go on for me from here. The southern route is impossible at the moment because all countries east of Turkey have closed their borders to tourists. The only option left is the northern route via Romania to Russia and then directly to Vladivostok. So I try to get in contact with the Russian consulate. I try it by phone and by mail, but get no answer. The first attempt to call in person was canceled, but the next day I could finally get in, but was dispatched quite shortly with a negative decision.
I knew this could happen when I left Munich,  but being stuck here is still frustrating. I get my bike back in shape and decide to stay here for now and use the time to go around Turkey. I will go south along the Mediterranean coast to the Syrian border. Then along the Iranian border through the mountains, where it should be quite cold to the Georgian border. In order to stay well trained, I will not take the direct route, but will take every pass in the area if possible.
Early in the morning, still in the dark, I cross the Bosporus by ferry. Simon and his girlfriend accompany me for a while. Today I drive 130 kilometers and I am still in Istanbul. I don’t see a piece of undeveloped land.

 

WEEK 12

I use the weekend curfew to drive out of Istanbul without traffic chaos.
It is not fun. 100 kilometers through dirty industrial and residential areas.
I drive around the Sea of Marmara, along the coast. Sometimes I make a detour over the surrounding hills and always stay on small roads. It rains all the time and the wind is sometimes so violent that I have trouble keeping on the bike. The roads, even the paved ones, are so muddy that I have to wash my bike every day. Nasty November weather.
I meet again Karo us Simon, who have not gone around the Sea of Marmara, but have taken the ferry. We camp one night together.
On Wednesday I cross a pass and change to another weather zone down to the Aegean Sea. The landscape is suddenly Mediterranean. There are olive trees, beach and sea. I choose a route on small roads through the mountains, because the coastal road is heavily traveled. I drive around Izmir and look for a more remote coastal strip.
I have not yet made any progress in further travel planning. First I’m stuck here and will probably have to stay here for some time.

 

WEEK 13

On small mountain roads I ride in perfect conditions in the hinterland around Izmir.
In the meantime it has become warmer and I cover 120 – 160 kilometers a day. Is not very much, but is also the wrong direction.
Christmas I camp in an olive grove near Bodrum. Turkey is a Muslim country where Christmas is not celebrated, of course. So Christmas is a bit different for me as well.
I drive around Bodrum, where I meet another triathlete. I had sent him a package 4 weeks ago, which is still stuck in Turkish customs. Bodrum itself is too touristy for me, but south of it it gets really nice. Small dream roads, always directly along the sea.
Next to the road, through an olive grove down to the sea, I find a lonely beach where I make a fire and spend the night.
Now I am stuck again. Continuous rain. And my situation is not very motivating either.
The new Corona mutation makes it even more difficult to travel and as long as that doesn’t change. I am in in good hands here. There will soon be another 4-day lockdown here, which will ensure empty streets on which I may move as a tourist.

 

January 2021

WEEK 14

This week I am driving south along the coast. First around the Bodrom peninsula, then over the Datca peninsula. A constant up and down with many metres of altitude. It is 20° warm and the water temperature is also good enough for swimming. Wonderful area with many lonely dream beaches.
I spend New Year’s Eve in a hotel. I thought there might be a beer somewhere, but everything is closed from 9pm.
In Fethiye I meet Simon and Caro again, who have taken a more direct route from Istanbul. Simon accompanies me up the 1970 metre high Babadag. The climb from sea level over 19-20 kilometres, with several 20 % ramps, is harder than anything you can find in the Alps. The reward is a magnificent view of the sea and the snow-covered Taurus mountains inland. Alpine conditions and dream beaches 10 kilometres away.
I camp on the beach for 2 more days and use the much free time for short trips into the surrounding area.

 

February 2021

WEEK 15-19

It finally goes on!

The last 4 weeks I was stuck in southern Turkey, I used for small training sessions in the area and at the same time looking for possibilities how it could go on for me.
Now a door has finally opened. The German Triathlon Union DTU, the German-Russian Forum and the Russian Olympic Committee have used their network to make an entry to Russia possible after all. As it looks, a visa will be ready for me next Friday at the Russian Consulate in Istanbul.
I will be on my way to Istanbul tomorrow.

 

WEEK 20

On Monday, I finally move on. I leave Gözek, where I have had a great time the last few weeks thanks to Ravi’s hospitality, for Istanbul. I take the direct route over the mountains, which leads over several passes between 800 and 1200 metres.
The first night I am very lucky. It is already dark when I arrive at a restaurant where there is a wooden hut where I am allowed to spend the night.
Tuesday I get the update that my visa for Russia is not waiting in Istanbul after all, but has to be picked up in a Schengen country. The nearest Schengen country would be Greece, but I would have to go into quarantine there on entry. Also, the border between Greece and Turkey is closed and I would have to go via Bulgaria, where an additional test would be required.
I’ll take a diversion on Wednesday via Uzak, where there is a DHL agency, and send a passport and power of attorney from there to Switzerland so that my father can pick up the visa at the Russian Embassy in Bern. Hopefully this will work and the passport will be back in my hands in time before I get to the Russian border.

 

WEEK 21

It’s Sunday. The day begins with the heaviest snowfall in Istanbul in 25 years. The reports are all over the news. It’s just below zero degrees, cold north wind and lots of slush. Extremely poor cycling conditions and then decide to go anyway, because Monday the lockdown is over and I would then have to go through the traffic chaos again. Since everything is wet immediately and the wind is blowing so hard that I can hardly see anything, it is bitterly cold. I only manage 70 kilometers and want to continue the next day on smaller roads. All of a sudden there is a real snowstorm and chaos breaks out on the roads. The cars skid and break down. The snow removal doesn’t keep up, because one is not used to such things here. I get as far as Kirklareli, the last bigger town before the Bulgarian border, where I take another Coronatest, which I need for the entry into Romania.
The border is at 1300 meters. I drive down to Bulgaria and have to step on the gas because I will meet Markus Weinberg in Constanta and of course also because of the limited validity of the Coronatest.
The next day it snows again. I make speed, drive in the evening still by Warna and to 40 kilometers before the Romanian border. I set up my tent in the snow in a forest. Unfortunately I have no winter equipment with me and the cold comes from below through the mat. I freeze myself through the night. In the morning it is minus 9 degrees.
In Constanta I meet Markus, who arrives a bit late. We spend the night in Constanta and the next day we continue with the boring roads. Agriculture or heavy industry from communist times.
In the evening we find an abandoned cowshed where we can spend the night, but it also still smells quite fresh.
The next day we drive to Galati, just before the Moldavian border.

 

March 2021

WEEK 22

Through Moldova, we take small back roads that are mostly gravel. It all looks relatively flat, but it goes up and down non-stop and results in 2000 metres of altitude difference at the end of the day. The landscape is not exactly spectacular, but the villages have a charm and look as if time has stood still.
Already in the darkness we come to a small market. Sergei, the seller, is also a truck driver. He lets us spend the night in the cabin of his truck, which is parked in front of his house.
Further over the Moldavian hills, we come to Transnistria. Under international law, Transnistria belongs to Moldova, but for 30 years it has been an independent pro-Russian region, which is not recognised by any state, but is in fact independent. Transnistria has its own government and administration, its own currency and its own military. Since Moldova does not recognise Transnistria, there is no exit from Moldova at the border, but there is entry with a turnpike and military posts. It is only 45 kilometres to the Ukrainian border and we quickly reach the capital Tiraspol. The real highlight of Transnistria, where the Soviet times are still very present. In the evening we stay in a small hotel just across the border and in the morning we set off for Odessa, 75 kilometres away, which has charm. The rich past is omnipresent in the somewhat run-down stately buildings and corner houses. The conditions the next morning are perfect. We take a main road out of Odessa, but it quickly turns into a gravel road and make 210 kilometres.
The next day starts with gravel again until we reach the industrial town of Krywyj Rih. We cross a 70 kilometre wide, run-down industrial area, on a 6-lane road and find a hotel with a Ukrainian wedding for the night.

 

WEEK 23

We arrive in the old industrial city of Kremenchuk, which lies on the largest Ukrainian river, the Dnieper. The bottom bracket on my rear wheel has come loose. A bike courier leads us to an inconspicuous garage, where there is a modern bike shop and a good mechanic who solves the problem.
Markus Weinberg leaves me in the evening and is replaced by Hans and Uwe from Ravir-Film, who will accompany me by car for a while.
Another 170 kilometres to Kharkiv, where I have an invitation and will wait for my passport. A bit 120 kilometres before Kharkiv, the boss of the local AUDAX club meets me.
Another short excitement in the afternoon: My father is at the Russian Consulate in Bern for the second time and again a document and a passport photo are missing. I have to deliver a current passport photo and a handwritten statement from the middle of nowhere.
30-40 kilometres before Kharkiv, 4 cyclists from the AUDAX club meet us again and heavy snow starts to fall. Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine, which we enter after dark. My host is Anastasija, a cyclist, with whom I stay for the next few days.
The cycling club has put together a nice programme for me. We go for a ride, 120 kilometres to the north of Kharkiv and we go horse riding and archery just outside Kharkiv.
I prepare my bike for Russia. I change to wider tyres with tread and get everything in shape again. The visa for Russia has been issued in the meantime and I just have to wait until my passport arrives here.

 

WEEK 24

The wait continues. I check the post office’s tracker every day and see that the consignment with my passport keeps getting stuck. For 2 days now, the shipment seems to be in Holland. By now it’s Thursday and it should already be here. I call a service number and am told that the roof of a logistics centre has collapsed. That’s why the delay. My consignment is intact and is now at Frankfurt airport. But the union is on strike there and the consignment cannot be loaded onto the flight to Kiev. Instead, a lorry is sent to the Ukraine, which is supposed to be in Kiev on Monday.
My problem is that although the visa has a 3-month validity, it was interpreted and noted in the passport that the 3 months starts with the issuing of the invitation by the Russian Olympic Committee. That was 4 weeks ago now and it means that I only have 60 days left for the 10,000 kilometres of Russia in winter instead of 90. I am running out of time.

 

WEEK 25

Monday afternoon the pass finally arrives and I immediately set off for the border 40km away. It must have been a long time since a cyclist passed through here. The soldiers are super nice, want to take a selfie and now follow me on Instagram. The invitation letter from the Olympic Committee makes an impression, but they still phone around for 2 hours to check whether it’s true.
I am passed from one post to the next. At the last post, one metre from Russian soil, they tell me that there is a list from the Ministry of the Interior with all the names that have a special permit. My name is not on it. I have to turn back.
I drive 2 kilometres back into Ukraine and pitch my tent in a field. And then I start making phone calls. In the morning I get the message that I am on the list.
On the Russian side of the border I am led into a room where I have to wait again. After 3 hours everything is cleared and the border official bids me farewell with the words “Good luck crazy boy”. That clears the way to the Pacific.
The temperature is below zero and it is snowing. I avoid the big roads, which hardly have any hard shoulders and when they do, there is snow or slush. The road is life-threatening. That’s why I take a 300-kilometre diversions and stay on side roads, which are usually in very bad condition. There are many potholes and many are not asphalted and are mud tracks at this time of year.

 

WEEK 26

The Russian winter makes life as a cyclist a fierce experience.
I’m crossing the highway from Moscow to Rostov, which I cycled in 2019 on the Cape-to-Cape route. For 10 kilometres I stay on the highway, but it is too dangerous for me in winter and so I switch back to smaller roads. As the roads are often not asphalted, I get more and more problems with the deepening mud.
The thermometer drops to minus 10 degrees at night and I spend one or two nights in the tent.
On the main road to Saratov, I drive on the hard shoulder, which is suddenly no longer there. One lorry after another whizzes past me. It becomes life-threatening and I turn back onto a side road.
There are 50 kilometres of mud ahead. It snows all day and the snow remains as deep slush on the road. Huge puddles form, filled with a mixture of snow, water and ice. Once I drive through a puddle where, invisible to me, there is a layer of ice under the water, on which I slip away and land in the puddle. The whole left side is wet and doesn’t warm up properly for the whole day.
After 5 hours, finally asphalt again, but also a heavy snowstorm. Within a short time there is 10 cm of fresh snow on the road and on me. I can only see a maximum of 15 metres and struggle for another 30 kilometres to just before Saratov.
The next day I cross the Volga. The sky is grey, but it is no longer snowing. The snow from the day before is turned into slush by the cars, and it is wet and cold and the road is almost undriveable.
Towards Samara, there is again no alternative to a barren main road leading through industrial landscape and flat fields. A fierce north wind blows directly into my face from the front at 0 degrees.

 

April 2021

WEEK 27

In Samara I turn east. The snow masses are melting and huge puddles are forming. Some are 300 meters long and up to 20 centimeters deep and I hardly make any progress. Only from Buguruslan it gets a little better and I manage 230 km.
The next day I drive to Belebel and let the route planner send me on a road towards Ufa, which gets worse and worse and the mud deeper and deeper. After 30 kilometers a car comes towards me and the driver tells me that it is still 70 kilometers to the main road and it will get much worse. Without a tractor the passage would not be possible. I turn around and 5 hours later I am back in Belebel. During the day it thaws and at night it is bitterly cold. I try to pitch my tent, but fail because the snow is so slushy that it is impossible to fix a peg in it.
After so much went wrong in Russia so far, I have already reached a daily average of 190 kilometers. If I want to be in Vladivostok in time, before my visa expires, I finally have to step on the gas. I pass Ufa, the city where I made my first world record in 2017. I still drive until dark and pitch my tent on the frozen ground.
The next day I reach the Ural Mountains. I am glad to be able to climb finally again. It goes up and down and I manage a little more than 200 kilometers on this day.
The morning starts with a strong tailwind, which also pushes me up the counter climbs with 30 kilometers. In the evening, I reach the M5 after 230 kilometers and go there to a trucker restaurant. I have a delicious dish with chicken and soon realize that this was a mistake. In Russia, the restaurants pre-cook the dishes and then warm them in the microwave. In the morning I feel nauseous and have a headache. When I go to the front desk, I almost collapse. So I stay here and spend the day in bed.
The next day I feel better, but still with stomach cramps. I ride the 80 kilometers to Chelyabinsk, where I have already searched via Instagram for a good bike store. A recommendation leads me to a store where Denis, the owner is already waiting for me. The mud rides of the last weeks have done a lot to my bike. All screws and bearings are eroded. The bottom bracket, the wheel bearings, the headset and parts of the gearshift need to be replaced. In Chelyabinsk I have a fan community where word has spread that I am there.
In the Urals I have already crossed the border to Asia and here in Chelyabinsk Siberia begins.

 

 

WEEK 28

Shortly before Omsk, I search 30 kilometres for a campsite and finally turn off onto a small dirt road.
Next to a power pole I see a spot where there is very little grass, but I can hardly secure the tent in the deep mud.
Through the city of Omsk a lot of traffic and melting snow. The shoulder is hardly passable.
I take a side road, which is gravelled and surprises with deep mud. It is raining and the wind is blowing straight from the front.
The long Siberian Plain is incredibly boring to drive through. The landscape is absolutely flat and without any variety. The average gradient over 200 kilometres is 33 metres in altitude. Swampy steppe and birch forests as far as the eye can see. Camping is almost impossible. As soon as I take a step beside the road, everything is wet swamp. The wind is crucial for progress. The first 2 days I make an average of 30 kilometres per hour with a tailwind. On the 3 following days, with a headwind, I only make an average of 18 kilometres per hour. The monotony in combination with the headwind is gruelling. In addition, there is heavy lorry traffic that I can hardly avoid.
As far as I know, the traffic gets better from Novosibirsk, where a lot of traffic turns south towards Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
So I drive hour after hour on the hard shoulder, which is only 50 centimetres wide, through pure monotony and nothing else happens. Every 80 kilometres there is a petrol station and a small restaurant where I eat something and continue. Mentally, this stretch is almost more difficult than swimming. I ride for 8 hours a day and absolutely nothing happens. The weather is better now. At night I have minus 8-10 degrees, but during the day it is sunny and up to 10 degrees. The wind is finally coming from behind again and it’s still 160 kilometres to Novosibirsk, where I’ll be this afternoon. If I remember correctly, the forests start after that and I can hope for some change.

 

WEEK 29

After Kemerovo, the landscape changes. Instead of  birch forests, there are now coniferous forests, which become denser and the first feeling of wilderness emerges. It is colder again and it is snowing.
I celebrate my birthday in a hotel in Marlinsk with cake from the supermarket.
After Marlinsk it gets really good. I have a strong tailwind pushing me over the hills and I manage 270 kilometres on this day. The next town is Atschinsk. The Soviet Union still seems to be alive here. Monuments and posters of former Soviet leaders can be seen everywhere in the city.
In the morning there is thick snow and I drive into a wonderful winter landscape.
Krasnoyarsk is the last big city before Vladivostok. Four years ago, during my Eurasia world record, I came to a small restaurant just before Krasnoyarsk, completely soaked and frozen through. The owner had invited me to spend the night in his shed, where there was a bed and a stove. Now, when I pass this restaurant again, the nice owner is still standing behind his counter. He doesn’t recognise me at first, but when I show him the photo I took back then, which is still saved on Instagram, he was pleased and invited me to eat with him.
After Krasnoyarsk, it gets wilder and hillier again. There are bears and wolves here. 200 kilometres further on, in the coal mining town of Kansk, I cross the river Kan.
It is -9 degrees at night and around 0 degrees during the day. The rivers begin to thaw and I see thick ice floes floating along.

 

 

WEEK 30

Shortly after Krasnoyarsk, I spend the night in a tent and wake up in the morning in deep snow and minus 13 degrees. My clothes and shoes were soaked in the sleet the day before and are now frozen stiff.
After Irkutsk I am joined by Andreij, the Russian cameraman from Ravir Film, and his assistant Alexander. A few long climbs up to 1000 metres begin, through dense forests and with lots of snow, and finally a spectacular descent down to Lake Baikal. For me, Lake Baikal is a personal highlight that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I drive a good distance along the shore, sometimes the hilly road goes a little inland, but always through snow-covered forests. I use the first morning on the stony beach as a wash day. The ice layer on the lake is still one and a half metres thick, but here on the shore a small river flows into the lake and a hole can be made in the ice layer with a stone so that I can take an ice bath together with the real Russian Alexander.
There are still 4 ice fishermen on the lake. I go to talk to them and one shows me his fish. They have a drill with which they drill holes in the one and a half metre thick ice, where they then sit and fish all day.
I can’t pass up the opportunity and pitch my tent on the ice of Lake Baikal. I make a campfire on the beach and enjoy the evening before slipping into my cosy sleeping place at night. It snows during the night and when I look out of the tent in the morning, all I see is white.
I arrive in Buryatia, a republic within Russia, where the landscape is wild and the people no longer look like Russians but like Asians. It looks more like Mongolia. There are pictures of horseback warriors in the restaurants and the food is more Asian. The majority of the religion is Buddhist and the architecture also gives you the feeling that you are no longer in Russia. Exciting change.
After Ula-Uhde it gets hilly. Some of the climbs go up to 900 metres. Now I’ve been on a plateau for a while, where a cold wind sweeps. I have to pitch my tent somewhere and it will be minus 15 degrees at night.

 

 

May 2021

WEEK 31

Two days I drive at an altitude of 700-800 meters. The forests slowly become more open and the landscape changes to a kind of steppe. Only a few trees and endless hills.
In front of the city of Tchita a group of cyclists is waiting for me and we roll together into Tchita. Actually, I had planned to ride past Tchita, but the guys had written me that they have prepared a royal reception for me. And so it was. They invited me to a hotel in the center of the city. There was dinner and afterwards a visit to the sauna. Tchita is again such a city, where the Soviet times still seem to be alive. On the main square there is the statue of Lenin, in front of which there is a marching training for the Victory Day parade on May 9.
The next morning I leave around 10 am. I don’t feel too well because we had had a drink in the sauna in the evening. Two of the cyclists accompany me for another 30 kilometers. Now the most remote, loneliest part of the route begins. The next city is Chaborovsk in 2100 kilometers. In between there are a few villages, but sometimes they are 100 kilometers apart. It also gets mountainous. The day after Tchita I have 2500 meters of altitude on the speedometer and so it goes on now. Every 60-100 kilometers there is at least one gas station and it is no problem to find a campground for the night.
The next day I misjudge the situation. In the village of Chernyshevsk I eat dinner and assume that soon there will be something where I can get some food. All I have with me is a Snickers and a Mars. The headwind blows in my face, it becomes brutally mountainous and only after 6 hours and 120 kilometers I arrive exhausted at the next gas station.

 

WEEK 32

The weather in this area is cold and wet in winter and no better in spring. The temperature is around zero degrees with constant rain or sleet. The distances are up to 150 kilometres without a petrol station or restaurant or even a single house.
Someone tells me that in Soviet times there was an army base in Mogocha, which is said to have been extremely unpopular because of the weather. The saying “God created Sochi and the devil created Mogocha” dates from that time. Four years ago, during my Eurasia record, I had the most serious crisis right here. It was August and I was wearing shorts when it started snowing here. At the turnoff to Mogocha, I came to a small restaurant completely frozen and the old lady behind the counter already wanted to call an ambulance. I wasn’t even able to pay because my fingers were too clammy to count the money. The lady gave me food and drink and hung my clothes out to dry. This time it’s not quite as bad because I’m better equipped, but again I get to this very restaurant frozen through and am taken care of again and can spend the night in a small room behind the restaurant.

 

WEEK 33

With the first day of spring, Markus Weinberg joins me, who will accompany me the last 1000 kilometres to Vladivostok. The joy of the beautiful weather lasted for one day. Then steady rain set in again. We only have a tiny tent, which we share for the night. Everything is wet and the ground is swampy.
For 2 days we ride through the Jewish Autonomous Oblast before we cross the big river Amur and roll into the city of Khabarovsk. My first trip takes me to a bike shop, because I have been riding for 1500 kilometres with a defective rear wheel bearing. The chain urgently needs changing, the sprocket is loose and the brake pads need changing. The bike community of Khadorovsk has heard about me and 3 riders come to the bike shop and accompany us on the way out of town. We cycle 210 kilometres this day, leaving 700 kilometres to Vladivostok – final spurt!
We are now around the north-east corner of China and have turned south, where Vladivostok lies on the border with North Korea. Now it’s really spring. In the afternoon the thermometer rises to 18/19 degrees.

 

ARRIVAL IN VLADIVOSTOK

On the outskirts of Vladivostok, 2 cyclists are waiting to accompany us the last 15 kilometres into the city centre. It’s a spectacular ride over the Golden Horn Bridge, from where you can see the large military and industrial harbour below you.
At the same place in front of the theatre where I arrived 4 years ago, about 10 people from the cycling community are waiting, most of whom I still know. The same host as last time invites me to his place again. We spend the evening with a small celebration.

The passage through Russia in the beginning of spring was an adventure, but with a few easy days and I am very happy to be here now and that it is slowly getting warm. I will use the days here to rest a little and look for a sailing ship for the Pacific crossing. Markus and the film crew are here for another 2 days. We do some sightseeing during the day and go to a banya, a Russian sauna, in the evening. It’s a bit hotter than in Germany. You’re in it for a shorter time and then you get whipped with twigs. Then you jump into the sea, which is currently 9.4 degrees.

 

WEEK 33-34

The cycling community invited me to participate in the Primorsky Kraj (state) MTB championship, a MTB marathon. Since I don’t have a mountain bike with me, I’m taking part for fun, with my gravel bike. I am the only rider without a mountain bike and the course is a 20 kilometre loop that is ridden 2 times.
I’m probably the fastest on the climbs, but on the descents I have to dismount and carry my bike and lose a lot of time. In the end I finish in sixth place.
I explore the surroundings. I’m particularly interested in Rusky Iland off the coast, from where there is a 30-metre-wide ford onto uninhabited Scott Iland. I wade through knee-deep water and am all alone on this paradisiacal island. On a high cliff I find the perfect place to spend the night.
The search for a sailboat is still fruitless. Since Vladivostok freezes over in winter, the sailboats are taken to Korea and could not yet be brought back now because of Corona. Finding a boat further south is also practically impossible because you are not allowed to enter anywhere. Finding a place on a cargo ship doesn’t look good at the moment either. There are only a few ships from here to Mexico and the cargo ships are currently not allowed to take anyone because they sail in corona bubbles. I’m giving myself a few more days to really try everything, but my visa is about to expire and then I’ll have no choice but to fly to Mexico.

 

June 2021

WEEK 36

One week in Vladivostok and, except for two days, only continuous rain. I use the time to look for a ship and, at the same time, a flight to Mexico.
As my visa for Russia is about to expire, I am feverishly looking for a solution to get out of here.
I found a cargo ship that sails to Korea and on to Mexico on 5 June. That would be ideal, and I’ve been in contact with the shipping company’s management. But the answer is always the same: at the moment, not even the shipping company’s managing director is allowed to board the ship. In the meantime, my last option is to fly, and even then only one flight via Tokyo, with a high risk of getting stranded en route.
On Sunday morning I am already at the airport 4 hours before departure.
I am the first one at the check-in and immediately the problems start. They see that my visa has expired and it takes at least 10 phone calls and 40 minutes of waiting until this is cleared up. Then it’s about the transit in Tokyo and finally I have to prove that I am allowed to enter Mexico. After another 20 minutes I have to sign a paper accepting responsibility for a possible stranding in Tokyo itself. They point out to me that if the flight to Mexico were to be cancelled today for any reason, I would have a huge problem. Theoretically, I would be allowed to stay in transit in Tokyo for 24 hours, but the transit area is closed at night and I would be forced to leave the area, but would not be allowed to enter either. I would be in a bureaucratic impasse.
The border officials take another 20 minutes until it is clear that I am allowed to leave despite my expired visa.
It’s a shame that I have to fly across the Pacific, because I wanted to travel around the world as CO2-neutrally as possible. But that doesn’t change anything about the triathlon and I will make a compensation payment to a nature conservation organisation for the CO2 pollution. In the end, I had no choice.

 

WEEK 37

I arrive in Mexico City earlier than I left Tokyo and the jet lag hits me hard.
I have one day to arrive and let myself drift through the city.
The next day I fly to Tijuana, where I meet Markus Weinberg. We use the day for the final preparations for the run. I get the trailer delivered, which I now assemble. A local triathlete shows us the city and then the next morning we start directly.
I start on the beach, at the shocking border wall, 2 metres away from the USA.
Leonardo, a local athlete is already waiting to run the first 15 kilometres. We take the shoulder of Highway No.1, a beautiful coastal road with spectacular views of the Pacific.
In the afternoon, after 35 kilometres, it becomes noticeable that I have practically not run for the last 7 months. My legs start to hurt. After 42 kilometres I reach Rosalito.
The first 5 minutes of the next morning are painful. I limp at first. I can hardly walk.
But eventually it works and I run the next marathon that day, but in the evening I’m in a lot of pain.
At the start the next morning, Thomas, a Swiss, is waiting for me. He lives here on the Baia Calofornia and accompanies me for the next 28 kilometres. In the afternoon, my back starts to hurt because the trailer I’m pulling behind me weighs 20 kilos. I now alternate between pulling and pushing.
Leonardo joins me again and runs 23 kilometres with me today. I pass through the town of Ensenada, where I am invited to dinner by a cyclist.
In the evening, after another 42 kilometres, at least my legs no longer hurt.

 

WEEK 38

I have been pain-free for 3 days. I run 43 – 45 kilometres a day without complaint. I have also increased the pace a bit. I now run about 7 kilometres/hour. Slowly it is getting hot. I start early in the morning, take a long lunch break and run again in the afternoon.
In the evening, one day after Ensenada, when I have chosen a campsite a little off the road in the bushes, I notice a rattlesnake and put up the tent 20 metres away as a precaution.
I enter the valley of San Quintin, the agricultural area of Baia California. There is now no hard shoulder on the only road and the traffic is heavier. The car drivers, and even the truck drivers, are considerate. They stop behind me and overtake only when the road is clear. Not a bit aggressive, but friendly greetings and cheers. I have never experienced that before.
A local radio station has posted my respective position on its website. Every few minutes a car stops to take selfies. I get more food and drink than I can use. I am very happy, but also get out of rhythm because of the constant stops.
I feel good. I have no complaints. The trailer runs well as long as it is flat. Uphill or downhill it gets difficult. Now I have 30 kilometres to the last village before the desert.

 

WEEK 39

After El Rosario, the climbs begin. It is constantly up and down, and by the end of the day I have climbed 1000 metres. With the 20-kilo trailer and the heat, without any shade, the climbs are brutal.
The cactus fields alternate with huge rock formations. After 4 days I pass through Catavina, a small village of 15 houses with some infrastructure. On the way there is Wifi in the restaurants, but otherwise no network. Shortly before Catavina, I have a special encounter with locals, who are always happy to help as much as they can. I am just about to take my lunch break at the side of the road, in the middle of the desert, when a car stops by me. A group of mariachi jumps out and starts playing. They had read about me and came to motivate me. It is not difficult for me to run a marathon with such mental support.
I have run a little more than a marathon each of the last 5 days and now I am almost 20 kilometres ahead. I will need this buffer when up to 3000 metres of altitude per day await me on the mainland. And I’m sure there will also be other difficulties during this adventure.

 

July 2021

WEEK 40

After the endlessly long desert section, I have made it through the first state and cross the border into Baja California Sur. I reach the town of Guerrero Negro, where I am invited to a hotel and enjoy the first shower after 400 kilometres of desert. The next morning the local running scene is waiting for me. The first runners drop off quickly, but 2 runners join me for a half marathon. The section of the route is mentally difficult, as the road leads 100 kilometres flat and dead straight through a desert devoid of vegetation. One day’s section before the Ignacio Oasis, a Canadian stops next to me in the morning and invites me to his bed & breakfast in Ignacio. The prospect of a bed in an oasis motivates me to walk the remaining 55 kilometres in one day.
The next morning I find it hard to tear myself away from this place and when I start running around half past ten it is already much hotter. Towards evening I pass a volcano on a hill in a spectacular landscape. Then it’s a long downhill into a narrow canyon and now the high humidity adds to the heat. The temperature rises to over 40 degrees and there is absolutely no wind and no shade. It gets brutal.
Finally I reach the coast on the Gulf of California. The town of Santa Rosalia has prepared something for me. Just before the town, a police patrol is waiting to escort me into town. The city government has organised a small reception and invites me to dinner and to the hotel.

 

WEEK 41

I run early in the morning and then again in the late afternoon, because now the heat is joined by high humidity. On the way, a fisherman gives me a Mexican flag, which I mount on my trailer, because Mexico has treated me very well so far.
After Mulegé comes one dream beach after the other. In between, a small climb. I enjoy going for a swim or a kayak during my lunch break. When I reach Loreto, a tourist town on the coast, I have already run 30 kilometres. A group of runners joins me, telling me about a dream beach along the route. But they have misjudged the distance a bit and as it gets dark the runners disappear one by one. When I finally reach the beach, it has been 58 kilometres.
It’s another 30 kilometres along the beach before an almost 30-kilometre climb, which is fierce in the midday heat. At the top, it goes into a high valley and it gets 4-5 degrees cooler during the day and cools down further at night, so I can finally sleep again. I am back in the desert until I reach Ciudad Insurgentes and Ciudad Constitution, where I am again joined by some runners.
Now I have another 200 kilometre stretch of desert ahead of me before I run into La Paz, the capital of Baia California.

 

WEEK 42

From La Constitution, a women’s running club accompanies me. The women run 21 kilometres with me and party behind me. It gets very hot again and the closer I get to La Paz, the higher the humidity. On the night ferry, which takes 11 hours across the Sea of Cortez, I can get some sleep on deck in my sleeping bag. The 5 weeks through the Baja California desert landscape was a great experience, but now I am looking forward to a new section. On schedule I am 2 days ahead.
In the port of Mazatlàn, media and the baseball team are waiting for me. I am kitted out with a Venados jersey and flag and walk a lap of the city to the stadium with the Venados mascot.
After Villa Union there is a brilliant climb from sea level up to 2800 metres, which takes me 3 days. As it also goes downhill again and again, the total ascent is 4000 metres. At the foot of the climb, I am told that there are no police on the side road I take from here on, but that the area is a marijuana and opium cultivation area and is completely controlled by the cartel. The people are informed that I am coming and they know who I am. They will watch me and probably control me, but if I follow their rules, everything will be fine.
10 kilometres after Concordia, the first wardens appear. Young men on dirt bikes, with walkie-talkies and pistols in their belts. A little later, a man with a radio comes out of the bush, wanting to know exactly what Ravier’s film crew, following me in the car, is doing. The drone in particular is given clear instructions on where it may and may not fly.
The higher I walk up the mountain, the wilder the landscape becomes and the more reserved, but always friendly, the people I meet become. But I can tell by their clothes and radio bones that they are involved with the narcos. I pass high waterfalls and spectacular rock faces. It is the rainy season and I experience a first heavy rain. I take off my shirt and just keep walking through the rain and enjoy the cooling.

 

WEEK 43

In La Ciudad, I get an invitation from the local tourism ministry. Word must have got around that my posts are the perfect promotion. After another 46 kilometres through hilly forests, I arrive in El Salto, where I get a hotel and a meal at the invitation of the prefecture.
When I run out of El Salt the next morning, I am accompanied by the local running club, which has brought along a dog called La Coqueta. La Coqueta is a street dog who loves to run and every now and then accompanies the running club on its tours. When the last runner turns back after half a marathon, La Coqueta continues to accompany me. I try unsuccessfully to send her back and so we run 50 kilometres that day and when I pitch my tent for the night, she lies down in front of it.
In the morning La Conqueta is still there and so we walk another 50 kilometres together. In the meantime, the story about La Conqueta has made the news and the closer we get to the city of Durango, the more runners and cyclists join us. At times there are over 100 people, followed by a caravan of honking cars and accompanied by a police car in front. La Conqueta enjoys the attention and the hustle and bustle and so we run into Durango and are welcomed in front of the cathedral. After giving more than 15 interviews, I am put up in a suite on the top floor of the Hotel Casablanca, with a magnificent view over the old town. Forest Gump Real is on television.
In the morning, about 80 runners accompany us, singing and partying. In the meantime, we have found a family in El Salt who will adopt the dog. We run another 15 kilometres together and then it’s time to say goodbye. La Conqueta gets on a pickup truck and is taken the 130 kilometres back to El Salto, where she receives a hero’s welcome with a medal and her own dog house. A TV station does its own feature on La Conqueta, Mexico’s most famous dog.
By now, I am welcomed almost everywhere by the mayor and even a small town like Nombre de Dios still brings 15 runners to accompany me to the district border, where the next group is already waiting. By now everyone knows me here and the cars stop and I have to take selfies all the time. There is a crazy reception in the small town of Vincente Guerrero. People are standing along the street cheering me and there are a few hundred people in the square to welcome me. It is unbelievable.

 

August 2021

WEEK 44

A little outside Vincente Guerrero comes the border to Zacatecas, which is currently considered the most dangerous area in Mexico. I don’t notice much of this, because there are almost always 10-20 people running behind me and often a police escort accompanies me. In front of the capital Zacatecas, about 30 runners wait to enter the city with me. I am received by the Ministry of Tourism and given a guided tour of the city. Super nice city.
The next morning I leave the city with a police escort in the direction of Aquascalientes. The traffic on the main road is bearable and I first do a long day of 50 kilometres and then another 55 the next day. In Pabellon I am received by the mayoral candidate and invited home for a barbeque and overnight stay. I am met by a group of runners from Aquascaliente who will accompany me all the way to their town for 2 days. All hell breaks loose in Aquascaliente with the local running clubs. Two runners invite me to join them. I receive a citation from the Ministry of Culture and the national news and the daily newspapers report some of it on their front pages. The local baseball club Rileros de Aquascilente, a first division club, has a play-off game where I have the honour of throwing the opening ball. After the long run, the hustle and bustle and events like that, I get tired.

WEEK 45

Entering Leon, a city of 1.6 million, it is raining extremely. The streets are flooded. An escort of 8 police motorbikes and additional cars secures my way into town and even stops traffic at the intersections and traffic lights so that I can walk across safely. There is a little traffic chaos. A group of cyclists accompanies me to the Arc de Triomphe, where I have a few interviews. CNN and the Mexican TV stations report.
In the morning I leave the city on the motorway with extremely heavy traffic, but also with escorts. After 30 kilometres I turn off into the mountains to Guanajuato, where it gets quieter again. I spend the night in Guanajuato and the next morning take a small mountain road where I spend a night in a tent for the first time in a long time. In San Miguel de Allende, I am invited by Susi and Jose from Mexico City, who have a holiday home there. We spend a wonderful evening with a pool and good food. Shortly before the town sign I have reached the halfway mark of 2500 kilometres run, or 60 marathons. A reason to celebrate.
The traffic increases more and more until I reach the next big city, Santiago de Queretaro. I run through the centre and now the traffic becomes hell. The 6-lane motorway with a wide shoulder is the only safe option. Here too, despite the infernal noise, there are fellow runners who do this to themselves.

WEEK 46

I am again accompanied by many fellow runners and in the evening I reach a hill from which I can guess the dimensions of Mexico City. I run down to the suburb of Nicolas Romero, where more and more runners join me.
On the run into the big city, Leonardo from Tijuana joins me again and accompanies me for another 4 days. The 16-lane road into the centre is well secured by several police cars and the cars of the media, but the noise and the stench are very exhausting. The closer I get to the centre, the more people join us. We go straight to the Zocalo, the central square with the cathedral, where exactly today the 500th anniversary of the founding of Mexico is being celebrated with a big festival. Running the 80 kilometres across this city with a police escort is a great experience, but the noise and stench is also something I don’t necessarily want to repeat.
Directly after the city limits comes a 23-kilometre climb to the highest point of my circumnavigation, the Passo Janogrande at 3200 metres. The road leads directly past the two snow-covered volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl, which can be seen from time to time through the fog.
Outside Puebla, the teams of my former partner Hoffmann Group and my sponsor ON are waiting, as well as some runners and cyclists. In town, a huge hustle and bustle with 5 TV channels, radio, newspapers. From Puebla, things get even crazier. Every day, 20-100 people walk behind me, accompanied by up to 6 police cars and motorbikes and a troop of media vehicles and private cars.

 

WEEK 47

Into the city of Tehuacan, thousands stand at the roadside. It’s like a stage of a professional cycling race. Hundreds welcome me in the central square. Television and radio broadcast my arrival live and for the first time the hype is clearly too much for me. I get questions shouted at me from all sides and mobile phones stuck in my face. A radio man recognises my distress and takes me to his studio where we can do an interview in peace.
People on the side of the road are always giving me gifts. These are usually drinks or local fruit. When I get to Tehuacan through a melon area, I am offered 6 melons that day. At the end, a woman walks behind me and puts another 2 melons in my trailer, which already contains 15 drink bottles. Not accepting gifts is considered very rude in Mexico, and as I am never alone, I have no opportunity to get rid of them. In the evening, as I climb a steep hill to the stage town, where many people are standing to give me more gifts, I almost can’t make it up the hill because my trailer must weigh 30 kilos.
Hundreds of people are standing at the border to the state of Oaxaca. The television broadcasts the border crossing live.
The next day there is an 1800-metre climb, in serpentines up to 2300 metres. Most of the 20 runners give up after 1 kilometre of ascent. Only one makes it to the top. One of the policemen walks 3-4 kilometres in full gear and with a gun. It is not dangerous here in the area, but they are not allowed to take off their weapons.

 

 

 

September 2021

WEEK 48

I arrive in Oaxaca City, one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. As I run through the beautiful old town, I am accompanied by many runners and an entire police detachment. The city is a hive of activity with a reception at the cathedral in the main square.
The next morning starts completely flat, with lots of company through the agave fields. This is the area where Mezcal is produced. For lunch we stop at a mezcal factory and for dinner, of course, mezcal is on the table and afterwards I am invited to the sausage fair. It is the worm of the agave plant, called gusano de maguey. It is another long day to Villa de Mitla, where there is the next reception.
In Mitla I get a beautiful shirt, which is produced here, and a bottle of Mezcal. In the evening, an invitation from friends for dinner and a guided tour of a Mezcal distillery and an Algave plantation.
In the morning, we continue on a remote mountain road.
The fellow runners leave me one by one and only one police car stays behind me and I have 4 days of peace and enjoy the beautiful nature here. have a lot again In the first and second after I always stay overnight with acquaintances of theirs. One night, when there is no village nearby, I have permission to pitch my tent in a chapel, by candlelight in front of the altar. Very special.

 

WEEK 49

It gets hotter and more humid with every kilometre further down into the plain on the Pacific.
The 5 days on the coastal plain above Huazantlan are hell. I start early in the morning and run the first 30 kilometres, but it is so brutally hot that I get headaches and once even muscle cramps, which has not happened to me for years. Before Juchitan, about 15 runners accompany me. One of them, a former football player, has lost his leg after a tumour and accompanies me on crutches. His motivation is unbelievable! He is training for a marathon and actually manages 8 or 9 kilometres on crutches. In Huazantan, a complete police detachment is waiting, about 20 men in uniform, who run along for a few kilometres, singing their marching songs.
The landscape is tropical, but I never get to see the sea. The crossing into the state of Chiapas works perfectly again. The police and a TV station and some runners are already waiting. Still 30 days until Cancun.

 

WEEK 50

A police detachment of 20 men follows me out of Juchitan, but they quickly leave. For 2 days I struggle through the coastal plain with the extreme heat – 35 degrees and high humidity.
On the road I want to take from Arriaga, there are again safety problems and for safety reasons I decide to take the motorway despite the police escort and as there is only a toll station after 65 kilometres where I get something to eat and behind which I can sleep safely, this day becomes the longest so far.
When I get to Tuxtla Gutierrez, over 100 runners accompany me and the town welcomes us in a park with a marimba band. The run-in gets a bit out of hand. The runners keep touching my car and everyone wants a selfie, so I can no longer run at my rhythm.
Between Tuxtla Gutierrez and San Cristobal comes the royal stage. Tuxtla is at 450 metres, San Cristobal, 50 kilometres away, at 2000 metres. The road always leads along the slope, with a view over the valley, and while it is still hot at the bottom, further up we come into fog and it gets really fresh. The closer we get to San Cristobal, the more runners join us. A policeman from the escort, who used to run marathons, gets out of the car and runs 20 kilometres with us.
Exactly 1000 kilometres to Cancun.

 

WEEK 51

Out of San Cristobal I take a small side road to Palenque, which on the one hand is famous for its spectacular nature and on the other hand is considered extremely dangerous. I am constantly accompanied by about 10 policemen. At night, 2 policemen with machine guns stand in front of the hotel and even when I go swimming to the waterfall, I am guarded by 3-4 policemen.
Directly after San Cristobal, the route leads through beautiful coniferous forests up to 2000 metres to Ocosingo and then back down through the jungle.
In a village on the way, they wait for me to offer them local specialities. First homemade sugar cane schnapps and then podzole, the national drink made from maize in Chiapas. They also eat rats here. A local speciality is a rat stew, which is supposed to give a lot of strength, but luckily it is not ready yet. Hundreds are waiting on the central square in Ocosingo and I escape the hustle and bustle by having the police take me in a pickup truck and drive me zigzag through town to the hotel, so that no one knows where I am.
We continue through the hot and humid jungle with daily heavy rain showers.
When we arrive in Palenque, I have been running for 96 days and have completed my 100th marathon.
From now on, the route remains completely flat and leads dead straight to Cancun. The thermometer rises to 35 degrees, the humidity is very high and there is no shade. This combination is extremely tough.

 

WEEK 52

Campeche is completely flat. The road goes straight for 50 kilometres. Bushes to the left and right. A crossroads or a small bend and another 50 kilometres straight ahead. Apart from a few stretches along the coast, it remains extremely boring. The daily distances vary between 35 and 60 kilometres, depending on where I can sleep. I always start in the dark at 6 am. Until 10 am it is bearable, but from 11 am the heat becomes unbearable. Sometimes I manage a complete marathon in the morning. For longer stages, I run half a marathon in the morning, then rest for 3-4 hours in a restaurant, and then run another half marathon in the afternoon, arriving at sunset.
When I reach Sabacuy, on the Gulf of Mexico, it finally gets more interesting. The road runs along the sea.
After two more long stages of 60 and 56 kilometres, I arrive in La Campeche, the capital of the state of the same name. La Campeche has a beautiful old town from colonial times. I am welcomed by the Ministry of Tourism and the media and am invited back. As I arrive already at noon, I have enough time for some sightseeing, good food and relaxation at the hotel pool.
Campeche is considered safe and the streets are wide with hard shoulders. I enjoy being my own boss again without an escort.

 

October 2021

WEEK 53

After Campeche it gets boring. I have to consider whether there is any highlight at all. To the left and right of the road, bushes and always straight ahead. After 3 days I arrive in Mérida, the largest city in the Yucatan. Many fellow travellers accompany me into town and once again there is a reception. The heat, which rises to 40 degrees during the day with high humidity, gets to me. I first run on the motorway and then change to a small, parallel side road. I have a police escort again, which is a good thing on the narrow road.
All the newspapers and TV have reported again and every few minutes there are cars on the hard shoulder, so I have to swerve and then stop for photos, which always throws me off rhythm. It’s all very nicely done, but it’s also annoying.
In Merida, the mayor gives me a pyramid and a palace made of stone, both weighing about 4 kilos. Very interesting.
Arrival in Cancun is Monday 01:00 pm.

 

ARRIVAL IN CANCUN

I start at 07:30 for the last of my 120 marathons across Mexico. There are still 65 kilometers to the finish. In front of the hotel a few runners and cyclists are already waiting. Eli and Leonardo want to try to run the whole distance today and Markus runs the first kilometers. The film crew is there and also my father runs a part of the distance.
From the city border of Cancun we are escorted by several police cars and motorcycles that stop the traffic for us, so that we can run through the middle of Cancun without stopping. More and more runners join us and make a spectacle behind me. After Cancun, we head for the 20-kilometer home stretch to Playa Delfines, where hundreds of people give us an enthusiastic reception at the finish line.

 

November 2021

WEEK 54-57

After the hustle and bustle of arriving in Cancun, I can stay in a hotel in Cancun for a few more days. The ravir-Film team, Eli, Roberto, my father and Martin are here. The new book has to be finished. Then I accept an invitation to a beach hut in Colum and still have lots of interviews and podcasts. Eli and I spend a few days on the island of Holbox and slowly it becomes clear that the crossing to Portugal by sailboat or cargo ship is not going to work. The hurricane season and Corona once again throw a spanner in my plans.
I accept another invitation from a triathlete to the island of Cozumel and finally have some time to enjoy this paradise.
On 29 October, I fly to Portugal and look forward to seeing La Esposa again.

 

WEEK 58

I arrived in Lisbon and Esposa is already waiting for me. Markus is here. He will accompany me until Seville. In continuous rain, I head for the Algarve. I don’t take the direct route to Munich, but drive a big curve south and take every hill along the way to get to the missing 4000km. First we drive along the coast and then turn off on hilly dream roads through olive groves towards Spain. On the 3rd day we cross the border and on the 4th day we reach Seville.
I want to avoid driving in the early darkness and only manage 160 kilometres a day. From now on we head into the mountains, where it gets uncomfortably cold at night, but I am compensated with beautiful mountain roads.

 

WEEK 59

In beautiful Seville, Markus leaves me to fly back to Germany. Then comes a winding climb. At sunset I am at 1000 metres and after dinner I suddenly feel sicker than I have in years. I stay in a hotel for 3 days before I can finally get back on my bike. Progress is slow. I have adjusted my route and taken out a few metres of altitude and now ride more towards the coast where it is warmer.
After the built-up coast around Malaga, it gets really nice again. I’m back on beautiful mountain roads with lots of altitude metres. My schedule is messed up by the illness. That’s why I’m now riding daily stages of over 200 kilometres again, passing Alicante and Valencia.

 

WEEK 60

From Valencia I leave the coast and take small dream roads through the mountains running parallel to the coast. An editor from BILD accompanies me into Barcelona. In Gerona I have an invitation to the hotel of triathlon legend Jan Fredeno. In the morning, Jan Fredeno, two other professional cyclists and the CEO of my sponsor Meetyou accompany me across the border into France. I spend the night in the house of my sponsor, who runs his company virtually from here. I cycle along the coast, through the Camargue. In the distance I can see the Pyrenees, now already covered in snow. It is slowly becoming winter. At night I feel really cold for the first time. In Avignon I meet Markus Weinberg, who accompanies me from here to Munich. We make a small diversions via the legendary Mont Ventoux. The road is already closed for the winter, but we can still get up easily by bike on the south side. At the top -1°, but with a spectacular view. The descent via the north side is bitterly cold.

 

WEEK 61

We drive up and down, on small back roads towards Grenoble. One morning we start in dense fog before we reach 800 metres of glorious sunshine with a perfect view over the sea of fog. In the French Jura it starts to get wet. We cross the Swiss border and drive to the vicinity of Neuchatel, where we accept an invitation to spend the night with two Instagram followers. The next day, several cyclists are waiting in Solothurn and Balsthal to accompany us to Aedermannsdorf in the Solothurn Jura, where my father and his partner live and where my official residence is. The municipality and the Thal Nature Park have prepared a big reception with brass band music and about 100 visitors. Only 3 more days until Munich!

 

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