Winter-wonderland-Lapland

Last Saturday saw me and my friends getting up in the dead of the night to travel to the airport and pick up our rental cars. After deciding who goes with whom and stowing away all our luggage, the 15 of us headed of on the 1000 kilometre journey to Äkäslompolo on the border of the Ylläs national park. The journey there was quite uneventful and we had the chance to admire the finish landscape covered in snow and lakes and the sea frozen over. We stopped st one of the northernmost points of the Baltic Sea, where we had a beautiful view of the sunset. Even though the view from the car was monotonous: trees, lakes, roads and more trees and lakes it was a spectacular sight to behold especially the long frost covered roads that continues straight onwards for dozens of kilometres without a single bend.

 

After about 14 hours we arrived at our cottage, waited for everyone to arrive, cooked dinner and had a nice sauna. On Sunday we had a traditional Bavarian breakfast, as we in Finland, do it like the Germans. Anyway, we had beautiful sunshine and only -13 degrees so we went for a hike in the deep snow and got completely lost and stuck in the waist deep powdery snow. After getting back on track we found a nice hut where we had a rest and then scaled the top of the “mountain” (530 metres) from which we had a great view of our surroundings and the sun setting on the horizon. The way down was even more fun since the snow covered all the rocks so that we could jump and slide over them with our little sledges or just on our belly or rear. This made the descent a lot of fun, event though the last half hour was once again walking through deep snow.

 

After the strenuous hike on Monday we decided to have a relaxing day indoors playing games and trying some uphill sledging. Traditionally the people use long sledges as a means of transport. They stand on the skis and push of and propel themselves forward with one of their feet. You can see them moving around in this manner to go shopping or just to bring their kids to school. We modernised this get up by the means of a rope and a tow bar. Thus we reached speeds of 35 kilometres an hour whilst sledging uphill. In the evening we once again played games and enjoyed some time in the sauna. It is really amazing, one sits in the sauna at 80 degrees and then you go outside to -20 degrees. Immediately your hair freezes and when you move your arms you can hear all the frozen sweat on your arms cracking. Then after a quick lie in the snow it’s back inside to warm up again.

On Tuesday we had booked a husky and snowmobile trip which was very expensive but worth it. Having doned cold weather gear we got an introduction to the snow mobiles and then set of. Travelling along the track was noise but really fun since at 30 kilometres per hour you were jostled around quite a bit. After a half hour ride we could hear the dogs already barking over the noise off our engine as they were cooling down. Whilst waking towards the husky camp the noise got even louder and we were introduced to the huskys and the technique of sleigh riding. We then each got allocated a sleigh and we’re good to go. As soon as the dogs noticed that we were getting to start their yelps, barks and bowls grew to a deafening crescendo and I got scarred since I’m not really a fan of animals. The dogs all around us in their cages started barking and were trying to pull the sleigh away from it’s parking position. Luckily, as soon as the rope tethering the sledge was unfastened, the dogs went wild and started running at a leisurely pace without making any noise, this was really nice. I took a bit of getting used to how one brakes and steers the sleigh but after a short while one really got used to it. At the half way point we switched drivers and I got to actually sit in the sleigh. Here one was at eye level with their dogs and could also smell them… Once we got back to the camp we talked with the musher’s about the dogs and we’re soon back on our way with the snow mobiles. But this time, the speed limit was switched of so we got the machines to a staggering 75 kilometres and hour. Doing a kick start like this one could really have fun on the wide expanses of open like and straight tracks in the woods were it sometimes was even possible to jump over smaller hills. After having had this experience driving and drifting in the car was really boring in comparison.

Wednesday saw us practising a traditional finish sport: cross country skiing. After trying to help everyone else with their technique and how to move forward we decide to head into the hills to the hut we had already visited on Sunday. Heading upwards whilst skating was very strenuous but lots of fun. After having rested and warmed ourselves up in the hut and having eaten some cookies and roasted apples and bananas on the fire the fun downhill part started. Taking a slightly longer route back we arrived back at the lake and the town in time to witness a beautiful sunset with colours ranging from blue through to purpose orange and turquoise. During the evening chances were high of seeing the northern lights, so we headed about 25 kilometres northwards to a remote hut to try and see them, and see them we did. Already driving there everyone was really excited and ooming and aaing. After walking to the hut I also could behold this magnificent natural phenomena. Green lights chasing each other through the starry sky, each one with a different form, size and strength. The lights were intermittent so we stayed outside for about 1 1/2 hours whilst it was -28 degrees always hoping that the next lights would be better than the ones before. Once we then got back to our house e all warmed up in the sauna.

On Thursday we decided to travel faster through the nature and rented some fat bikes. These have got extra big tires do that you can cycle through the snow, but once you get to slow you mostly fall of and can’t start again. Also, because the tires are so big the resistance whilst cycling is big and thus using this means of transport is very strenuous. Once again we stopped in a hut, burnished ourselves and tried to defrost our beer and alcohol which had completely frozen. After a longer brake we headed of again abs got lost. We then followed an official oath which was completely covered in snow and whose only other followers had been some animals. The snow here was really deep, so pushing and carrying the bikes was tiresome but the descending sun made it bearable. After having rounded a corner we came to a bigger clearing where we saw around 100 free grazing reindeer, completely oblivious to our presence. We edged closer and closer to these creatures and they did not seem to care. Some of the braver ones even cane to take a closer look at us. We stayed with these animals for about 30 minutes before heading onwards following a really nice trail which meant that biking was quite technical, jumping over and ducking under trees and branches whilst trying not to loose the path. Once again we were rewarded with a mesmerising sunset on the lake. In the evening chances for northern lights once again were high. Since we didn’t fancy driving again we just headed of to the lake and were rewarded with even better lights than the night before. The colours weren’t just green but also red and purple and the lights were gigantic moving similar to transversal waves. Once again it was so cold that my beer froze barely minutes after going outside and my eyelashes and other hair in my face caught my freezing breath.

Friday was our last full day in Lapland, after having a lie in, some of us decided to go for a nice little hike. After going along the trail we cycled along yesterday we had a short brake in an interesting art gallery and cafe. We then headed back to our house but on the way followed signs to a reindeer fence. There we found about 50 reindeer grazing and munching some hay. Once again they were not interested in us and let us get quite close. What surprised me most though, was the the farmers had left their snowmobiled ungraded and with the key in the ignition. How trustworthy these people are! In the evening we once again played some games and went into the Sauna.

On Saturday we then got up early and made the 980 kilometre journey back to Helsinki. Whilst driving we saw a beautiful sunrise and driving along the long empty roads in Lapland was a lot of fun. Once in Helsinki we also caught glimpses of the sunset.

Summarising the trip I can say that it was the experience of a lifetime: seeing the northern lights and reindeer’s, taking a husky and snowmobile ride and spending time with a great bunch of funny and cool friends!

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The first month

It’s been some time since I last wrote and since then it’s snowed and snowed and then thawed and now it’s snowing again. With it being so cold all the lakes and bays have frozen over and its really fun running, hiking and skiing over these snow covered expanses of water.

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A few weeks ago I went to an ice hockey match which is Finland’s national sport. I thought that the atmosphere would be like at a football game but the stadium wasn’t even fully packed and the people weren’t shouting and chanting that much as I expected. Additionally, it was difficult following the game since I didn’t know the rules. But it was a good experience so I can check that of my list.

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Then, 2 weeks I took the typical student journey to visit Tallinn. After getting up really early we took the ferry and we’re rewarded by a beautiful sunrise and the reflection of the glimmering sunlight in the frozen Baltic Sea. What surprised me was that about 20 kilometres out there was a line in the ice where the ice just stopped and the open sea started. Tallinn was a really nice town with lots of quaint, colourful houses and nice old town, from whose ramparts one had a great view of the city. On the journey back I fell into the trap, as did most of the other passengers and bought the cheap alcohol in Tallinn and on the ferry. It really is incredible not only seeing students but also family’s and elderly people having a day trip and carting back loads of alcohol since it is far cheaper than in Finland.

2 weeks ago I then had my first sitsit, which is an academic dinner party. The dinner party is lead by song masters which guide you through the evening and give toast and sing songs. It’s a really fun event where everybody can join in with the singing and later on the dancing.

2 weeks ago we had another trip to Nuuksio which really was fun since we found some steps to slide down, crossed the frozen lakes and had a nice barbecue. Luckily we also managed to catch the bus with only seconds to spare which was good because otherwise we would have had to wait 1 hour until the next bus.

Last weekend I organised a beer pong tournament for the Erasmus Student Network which was really fun but a bit stressful as well.

Next week we are travelling to Lapland which I am really looking forward to, pictures will follow soon 🙂

Tervetuloa Suomeen – Finland here I come!

Its now been more than 2 1/2 weeks that I arrived in Finland and a lot has happened since.

My journey started of in the last year when I left Erfurt by car and travelled to Travermünde to take the ferry from there to Helsinki. During the drive I could already see all the fireworks going of around me, since it was the 31st and already quite late. Boarding the ferry was nice and easy and I quickly went to my room and then on deck to view the fireworks in the harbour. Unfortunately I missed the start of the new year since when I boarded the ship it was 23:40 German time but already 00:40 Finish and onboard time. Anyway, the fireworks were great and I started the new year of right by then going into the onboard sauna. Other than that the journey was quite uneventful if a bit stormy.

I arrived in Finland on the 2nd of January and immediately got the keys to my flat in Helsinki and then drove to the campus and my flat between Helsinki and Espoo. After then doing all the administrative stuff I went for a long run and after that had a great Sauna. It was really cold and windy outside with about -8 degrees so if you stopped during running at the lights you got cold quite quickly. The other days of the week were spent with tours of the campus and other freshers inauguration events and a welcome sauna which was really fun. I will probably write an entire piece about finish sauna culture, but let me tell you this, its completely different from what I am used to from Germany! Anyway on Saturday I and a few other Electrical Engineering students who I had met during that week explored Helsinki and on Sunday evening there was another sauna party. After that the new term started and I had my first class.

The finish study system is divide into 5 periods. 2 in the autumn term and 3 in the spring term. Right now we have started the 3. period and I am only taking 3 classes which  means at the moment it is quite nice and relaxing. This means that I mostly adjust to the finish daylight hours and go to bed late and have a nice lie in in the morning since cases mostly start around 12:00. The first study week also saw the first major Erasmus party happening in Helsinkis city centre which was really fun. Unfortunately the prices for alcohol in Finland are quite expensive, especially in bars and clubs so we had some pre drinks at a friends place and played some fun games. On Friday we had another Sauna party which was held in the biggest sauna on campus which easily fits 60 people. Additionally it is situated directly next to a bay where there is an ice-hole. After the sauna you can cool yourself down there. So far I have been there about 8 times. It is really great, coming out of the warm sauna to a surrounding of -6-10 degrees and then jumping into the ice cold water, the experience gets even better if you also sink your head into the water.

Saturday saw me practising my cross country skiing technique. The last time I have tried this sport was probably something like 4 years ago so I was surprised that I actually was not that bad and enjoyed the sport and I only fell down once.

On Sunday I then joined a trip organised by the Erasmus Students network to the fortress island of Suomenlinna. Though we missed the ferry and had to wait one hour to catch the next one it was really fun exploring the island and all its barricades. At the end we were treated to a snow-storm where you just could not see anything for a few minutes.

This last week was more or less uneventful, except for the Talvipäiva – Freshers Winter Day. Here all the associations and guilds had stalls on campus and you could go around, inform yourself about what they are doing and in a team collect points by fulfilling various tasks and games. After that, all the saunas on campus were open and I managed to make it to 3 different ones, including one rooftop sauna. Unfortunately though all the saunas  were completely packed, which dampened the experience a bit. Once the Saunas had closed there was an after party close to my flat, but after spending a considerable amount of time in the sauna I was quite knackered and did not stay that long.

This last Saturday we had excellent, if quite cold weather, beautiful sunshine and about -10 degrees in the morning. I had to get up early since we had planned on going hiking in the nearby Nuuksio national park. There, everything was covered in beautiful fresh white powder snow and we had trouble sticking to the marked paths. All the lakes were frozen so you could easily used them as a shortcut by cutting across them. Some nice viewing points gave us spectacular glimpses of this swampy, lake filled, wooden area. In between, we stopped at a lake were there was free firewood and we had a little bonfire and grilled some stuff on the open fire. After getting warm a bit again, we continued our hike and finally made it back to the bus stop just as it was getting dark, thus using up all of the daylight time available.

This coming week it is supposed to snow even more and get really cold with an expected -18 degrees on Monday night so I will see how I adjust to these cold temperatures.

Annual Year Recap – 2018

Summing 2018 up one could say it was the best and the worst of years from me.

Running wise I only came up to 634 kilometres this year in 43 hours, running an average of 4:03 minutes per kilometre. Comparing this miserable distance to the one I ran last year, last years was more than double that. A long stay in hospital due to a ruptured appendix and a few other reasons kept me from running this year.

However the 3 races I did participate in well went all right. I ran the Rennsteig Half marathon as usual and became 15th overall. Unfortunately though, the time was not to good with 1:21.53. A few weeks later I was back on the Rennsteig, this time with my fellow runners from my sky club. Our youth team ran a personal record braking 13 hours and 2 minutes for the entire length of the Rennsteig. Other than that I did not go running a lot due to other projects and adventures I was having.

During the summer months I was the main organizer of a beach bar on our campus in Stuttgart which was really fun and rewarding, and showed me that with a few motivated people one can achieve a lot.

This years highlight for me though definitely was my trip to Springsteen on Broadway in January. First seeing Billy Joel in Madison Square Garden and then Bruce after visiting his home town and wandering grounds in New Jersey was a once in a lifetime experience!

Another concert I went to this year was Chris de Burgh which I really enjoyed and which I am again looking forward to next year.

In November I had another great week in London during the Global Students Engineering Conference on Disruptive Technologies where students from 7 different countries from all over the world participated in different workshops and projects. Meeting old friends from last years conference and new once was really great and I hope to see them all again at next years conference.

Starting of in few hours I will be heading north to Espoo, Finland for an Erasmus term abroad. I am really looking forward to getting to know the finish culture and lots of new people so stay tuned on my blog for my adventures in Finland (I will hopefully be writing more than this year).

Another new years resolution for next year is going running more and once again doing a bit of orienteering which I have neglected these past years.

I hope you also all had a good 2018 and I look forward to seeing you in 2019!

15th place isn’t that bad, or is it?

As usual the month of May saw me taking part in Europe’s biggest cross country race, the Rennsteiglauf. As the last two times as well, I took part in the half marathon. I was hoping to run in the top 20 and run a time around 1:17. I was especially hoping to defend my third place in the students ranking.

Although my preparation in the weeks leading up to the half marathon wasn’t to good, I believed to be fairly fit after having run a 34:10 over 9,8 kilometres only weeks before. As last year, I had a starting place in the elite field, ahead of the other 7800 participants. I had memorised the new stretch and all the ups and downs on the 21,095 kilometres, but I was still pretty nervous on Friday and Saturdays morning. After having arrived in Oberhof and walked to the baggage collecting areas, I couldn’t wait for the start…

Starting In the third row, we had the usual sing along of the Rennsteig Lied and the Schneewalzer. After the last 10 second countdown the race was on, slightly to warm with about 18 degrees and sunny but dry conditions meant nearly ideal conditions for the race.

I started of and quickly found my place among runners my age, under the top 20. Running down the first hill into Oberhof, I already noticed that my legs were closing up, which meant that I couldn’t run at full speed downhill. After the first 4 kilometres we finally headed on the actual Rennsteig and immediately encountered the first proper incline. On the hills I could mostly overtake a few runners but they overtook me on the downhill stretches which meant that I was mostly running with the same group of people all the time. Unfortunately I never really found someone running my pace, which meant that I was always running between two packs.

After 7 kilometres the stretch was different to the usual course, a rather rough path leading mainly uphill, making the incline to the highest point at the Schmücke after 11 kilometres thougher than usual. After that the profile changed, with the course leading downhill. This meant a disadvantage for me, since I couldn’t run fast enough down hill. Just before kilometre 15 I knew another hill was looming around the corner. Because of that, I decided that I had enough and that the time I wanted to run was impossible to reach, therefore I took the pace out a bit, running a pace of 3:50 instead of the planned 3:39 per kilometre. After having been in 10th place for quite some time, a few people then overtook me. After reaching the crest of the hill, I just wanted to stop running, but I carried on, especially because a fellow participant was cheering me on. After passing the 17 kilometre mark, I knew that it wasn’t that far, but still couldn’t push my usual pace. Already hearing the cheering of the crowd in the finish and the guns going of signalling the coming of the winner of the half marathon race I knew that it wasn’t that far to go. I still had to let a few people pass me, but soon enough I was in Schmiedefeld:

Cresting the last minor hill, I was heading down the finish line and seeing the clock tick down, seeing people among the crowd cheering me on (you know how you are if you read this :p) helped me get into the finish.

In the end, I ended up in 15th place from 8000 participants, with a time of 1:21:50 and 6th place in my age group. I even managed to maintain my third place in the students ranking, but unfortunately they forgot to put my name in the list…

Overall I am not to pleased with my time, my performance and my place. Considering the different stretch, everybody was 3 minutes slower than their best time, but having run a 1:16 last year, I was still 3 minutes slower than that, which probably is due to my lack of training. All in all, I managed to get into the finish with only minor blisters and bruises and hope to run better once again with more training in the next year…

New York, New York – Springsteen on Broadway

A some of you might have figured or guessed by my many posts about Bruce Springsteen, I am an avid Bruce Springsteen fan, maybe even a bit on the crazy obsessive side…

Anyway, after hearing that Bruce would be playing multiple night shows over months on Broadway, and with chances being low of him doing the same in Europe I decided to try and see if I could get some tickets for one of his shows. In the first run I did not get any tickets since Ticketmaster thought I was not a “verified fan” (as if anyone can believe that…!). Luckily in October, during the second run of tickets I scored tickets for Dad and me. This meant I would be travelling to the United States during the third week of January.

So, since the US is not on my top priority list of countries I wanted to visit I was still a little sceptical if I really wanted to go to the States, but then again, you only get one chance to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, so I took my chances with the US.

On the 11.01 it finally was time to pack my suitcases, travel to Frankfurt and take the 6 hour flight to Newark. The flight alone already was a highlight for me, seeing all the space and weight wasted for the commodity of the travellers. Additionally the views of Wales and Ireland as well as Nova Scotia and frozen lakes and rivers, as well as Manhattan’s Skyline during the landing were spectacular.

After having to wait 2 hours at the border control we finally took the train into Penn Station and were immediately in the centre of New York, directly below Madison Square Garden. As a frequent concert goer I had already checked out events in New York that day, and Billy Joel was playing his monthly show in the Garden that night. With having about 1 hour until the concert started we got some last minute tickets and had a pizza across the road. We then encountered a problem: we had two big suitcases of luggage and 2 smaller ones with us and needed to get these into the venue. Even if people were looking at us out of their corner of the eye wondering what we were doing there with all our luggage and with two explosive sniffing dogs checking our baggage the local staff were really friendly and helpful and stored our baggage in an extra cloakroom. We were then ushered to our seats and as it turned out, the spare tickets we got were some of the best in the house. Directly opposite from the stage with sufficient legroom and our own personal steward. What a luxury!

After waiting a bit the concert started and what a concert it was. having so far only ever seen video of Bruce playing in the Garden it was great to finally be there ant then get to see Billy Joel performing in front of his home crowd. Starting the night of with Miami 2017 (Seen the lights go out on Broadway) already was spectacular. Hearing him sing of all the places just outside the venue doors. Each time he mentioned a local sight the crowd would cheer and it would pop up on the video screens in the background. After that the setlist was pretty much similar to the one I got to here in Frankfurt two years earlier. What I really liked was that he always told a little story about the next song and gave the audience a choice of two songs and the one which got the loudest cheer was the one he played next. Some of my favourite songs he played were The Entertainer, Allentown, New York State of Mind, obviously We didn’t start the Fire, Downeaster Alexa, Piano Man and Uptown Girl.

After the concert and with the time difference I was knackered but what a start to a week in New York that was. Our hotel was only a short walk away from Madison Square Garden and with a room on the 40th floor (it actually only was the 39th since they forgot number 13th… funnily enough they have got a platform 13…?) we had a great view of the Empire State building at night.

The next morning after having a lie in we explored New York on foot, looking at all the sites like Times Square, Central Park, the Rockefeller Centre and Grand Central. On the way we stopped by at the Walter Kerr theatre to take a scope of the venue and take some obligatory tour photos. At the theatre we spotted a few fellow Bruce fans how had obviously come to New York for the same reasons as we did.

What quite surprised me was that it was so cold that Central Park was covered with a thick layer of mist and that all the lakes were frozen. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, and after having some spicy Indian food at Grand Central we got soaked walking back to the hotel. In the evening we then waited 3 hours in front of the theatre to get a chance of a photo with Bruce and an autograph. Dad was lucky enough to get to talk to Bruce and thank him for playing a song for us in Paris during the River Tour 2016 but I was unlucky again.

After being quite downcast about this we headed of into Chinatown and had a great meal. Did I mention that the portions everywhere were gigantic. Dad and I took the leftovers from the Chinese back home with us and had them for the next two years. How can people manage to eat these portions during one meal?!

Anyhow, after that we walked down to (…the River and into the River we dived – it was just slightly cold…) the East River and I took some great photos of Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge at night. After that we got slightly lost walking back through Chinatown.

The next day was a nice sunny but windy and cold day. So we walked to Ground Zero and had a look at the One World Trade Center. After that we walked along the Hudson River right down to the Battery Park were we boarded the Staten Island ferry and had some great views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. We then took the tube up North to look at the Flat Iron building which I really wanted to see before we then headed to the Chrysler building and the United Nations headquarters. Here I just want to mention how negatively surprised I was about the local transport in New York, the tube system was chaotic and hard to understand, nothing was signposted and it was easy to get lost!

The next day we got a hire car and drove into the most important State in the United States: New Jersey, the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen! Our trip here included all the major sights of Bruce’s life and the places he sings about, like Asbury Park Convention Hall, the Boardwalk and Madam Maries. We had a short stop at the nearby hotel were there was a great exhibition of Bruce photos from Danny Clinch and were we met an entire bunch of Bruce fans from the UK all there for the Light of Day Festival. I then took some photos of the Stone Pony before we headed of to the famous street crossing of 10th Avenue and E-Street.

We then checked onto our nice little quaint hotel in Ocean Grove, before we had some pizza at Federici in Freehold. We then stopped by at the Light of Day Festival to an interesting array of bands in the Saint. The next morning we travelled back to Freehold to look at the houses Bruce had lived in on South Street and Randolph Street. We then tried to figure out were the Giant Maple tree had stood before we looked at Bruce’s old school and the small house at 39 1/2 on Institute street. Here again I tried to re-enact some of Bruce old photos. After that we stopped by at the textile mill factory Bruce sings about in My Hometown.

After that trip down memory line we decided to drive down to Philadelphia. Before we got there we had to continue our stalking trip so we checked out Bruce’s homes in Rumson and the Thrill Hill recording studios. Unfortunately we only got to see his body guards and not the man himself… It was incredible to see these huge ranches with all the pastures and miles between the next houses, with huge stables and extra ranches. What sheer wealth existed here as well as along the coast in towns such as Deal (which actually is the Hometown of Patty).

After finally having found Bruce’s home we then travelled down to Philadelphia were we got to see the Liberty Bell on Martin Luther King Day as well as the Independence hall were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were singed. We then had a stroll through Philly and were surprised to remember that this was the town were Rocky prepared for his boxing matches against Apollo and co., so we just had to climb the famous steps and follow in Rockys footsteps.

We then travelled back to New York and searched ages for a restaurant that was open after midnight. Luckily enough we still found an Irish pub, with way to expensive beer, how can you pay 7 bucks for a bad beer?!

The next day was show-day, after walking along an old abandoned railway line in Manhattan (the Highline) with some great views of New Yorks streets and building sites from above I finally went for a run in the Central Park. Next to seeing Bruce and the Flat Iron building this was the thing I was most looking forward to New York and how great it was. Starting of in the middle of Manhattan I first had to navigate the New York traffic for 10 minutes before reaching Central Park, funnily enough, only the bikes next to me in the bike lane were faster then me since the cars had to wait at all the lights and got stuck in the traffic. After finally surviving the traffic I reached Central Park. In the midst of the giant pulsating city you could find quiet solitude in the gigantic park and take a stroll along the lakes and through the small winding paths and completely forget that you were in the middle of Manhattan. Another great running experience I had after my run in the Central park was scaling the 40 floors in our hotel. After reaching the top in 4minutes I was not just starting to feel dizzy from all the turns but my legs were also aching quite bad.

After freshening up I then tried once again to get an autograph in front of the Walter Kerr theatre and this time after waiting for about an hour I got lucky, I finally got an autograph on his vinyl Born to Run album. Finally after so many failed attempts over the years… now the next thing is a photo!

A few hours later it was time for the highlight of our trip, seeing Bruce play on Broadway. Upon entering the small theatre we were guided to our seats and advised not to take any pictures, so I haven’t got any of the actual show, but that was not necessary. After a short wait Bruce entered the stage and conjured pictures of his own. In his very own style he described his life story similar to his autobiography, mixing jokes and quotes from his songs in a humoristic way. Each stage of his life and about the people he met was accompanied with a short story, shedding new light on songs I thought I knew. Adding these insights to the places he was singing about that I had visited only days earlier opened my eyes and ears to a whole new level of intimacy in his songs. The theatre was a great venue for this kind of revelation, its peaceful, tranquil atmosphere and only 900 spectators meant that you could hear every chord that Bruce was playing and hear every slight change in his voice.

All in all the 2 1/2 hour show was unlike any I have ever seen and probably will ever see again. Its style was similar to the Devils and Dust tour back in 2005 but it was far more intense. During the show my mood and emotions were rapidly changing from happy to sadly crying, overjoyed and miserable, ecstatic and thoughtful. How one man can put so much  thought, effort, energy and devotion into one lyric, one song, one album and still think of the bigger picture and be hopeful about the outcome of our future is still a mystery to me, but it started to unravel itself to during that evening. That we, as the tiny observer in this endless flow of time,  are just stranded here for a short limited amount of time.

How lucky am I, to roam this place we call home at the same time as this man…

Returning back to our mostly boring live after a show like this is one of the most difficult challenges after every tour, but this time it was especially hard. Flying back home to Germany, university, deadlines and technical drawings still left to do left me thinking about the bigger picture and the part I play in this epic untold storyline ahead of us.

Thus, all this writing and listening to Bruce has got me way to pensive, thanks again for meeting so many old and new friends during my stay in the states!

Alas, it is time to say goodbye, so until we meet again further on up the road:

Stay hard,

Stay Hungry,

Stay Alive!!

PS: If you get the chance to score tickets for Bruce on Broadway, try and do everything you possibly can to get there. It is definitely worth it!

 

Annual year recap 2017

With 2017 nearing its end and 2018 looming up ahead of us, its time for my annual recapitulation of the year. As usual I´ll start of with summarizing my running highlights and then head on to some other great experiences I had this year.

2017 stood under the term of”ballern” which literally just means shooting of into the woods and running as you feel without thinking about training effects or split times. Its really fun and doesn’t get you worked up and looking at the watch to entire time and thinking that you are either to slow or to fast. With “ballern” you just go out enjoy yourself and mostly come back with faster split times then if you would have concentrated on running them on the spot. Ballering through 2017 left me running 1331,06 kilometres in 93 hours and 24 minutes. Even though a wheat intolerance left me weakened in the last third of the year I managed to go running at least once every week, maintaining my running streak from 2016!

Because my studies are quit time consuming I didn’t mange to run as many competitions  as I had planned, but still the 7 competitions I participated in went fairly well, with me coming in under the top 10 every time.

My personal highlights were the Rennsteiglauf, were I ran an amazing time of 1:16:36 over the half marathon distance and came in 10th from more than 6000, and the Rennsteiglauf Team relay race, were I improved my time over the 6th stretch and our team managed to improve its time from last year!

In the coming year, I hope to improve my half marathon time and my 10k time once again and would like to try a trail race in the Alps.

2017 also saw me continuing my studies of aerospace engineering which are quite tedious. Luckily enough I got the chance to recharge my batteries and get motivated for the coming year with an interesting excursion to Bremen where I visited the production sites of Airbus and OHB (a satellite company building the Galileo satellites). Another great highlight was the Global Students Engineering conference in London were I spent one week with students from all around the globe discussion the topic of sustainable cities.

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In March me and my dad had a great road trip through the Alps, seeing the snow covered mountain of the “Drei Zinnen” and the “Marmolada”. Continuing my spree of road trips I had another short trip through the Vosges mountains and to Strasbourg.

The little free time I had during the summer I spent at the Baltic sea, were I had fun running along the beach, visited Poland for the first time and got to see the production site of Hitlers vengeance “Wunderwaffe” V1 and V2.

2017 also saw me getting more engaged in our students union and work in our faculty, where I helped organize party’s and other minor events and helped out during our freshers week and especially our freshers weekend, where I had a really fun time in the middle of the black forest.

Coming to the last part here are some of my favourite photos I took this year:

So, enough of the writing, I wish all of you the best for 2018 and until we meet again further on up the road,

Stay hard, Stay hungry, stay alive!

Running on the Campus

Last Thursday saw the Campus run taking place nearly directly in front of my doorstep starting at the nearby running track. I decided to opt for the 12 kilometres, which consisted of running the 6k round two times. Initially I had hoped with a good time around 43 minutes and a placement under the top 3. The weather looked to be a nice cool, cloudy day, but you shouldn’t trust the forecast. As it turned out it was a sunny day with about 25 degrees, so not very suitable for me…

Anyway, I had memorised the stretch and was felling pretty fit. I started of together with another runner at the head of the field in a pace of 3:30. We headed out along the bendy and curvy course and after traversing the first flight of steps I was leading a group of two runners on the course. After grabbing a drink we struggled to find the official stretch while crossing the road and ended up on the wrong side of the barrier. After running through the woods I was in second place and we finished the first lap of the course. We then headed out on the second round, overtaking some stragglers whilst the front runner gained some distance on me.

I kept running my pace trying to keep up with him, and maybe, if I would have pushed myself a bit more I could have stayed with him?

In the end I finished in second place with a time of 45:51 meaning a pace of 3:40. I’m not to pleased about the time and the pace, even when considering the slower pace due to congestion on the course and slowing down due to all the sharp bends and steps.

Hopefully next year will be better…

Here is my GPS-Data

Running 172,8k in a team!

Better late than never! I finally got round to writing my recap of the Rennsteig relay race nearly 2 weeks ago. The relay team consists of 10 runners, running stretches of 14-20 kilometres on hilly, stony and muddy terrain. In total 172,8 kilometres of the old path in the thuringian forest are traversed. As usual I ran in the mixed youth team of my ski club and got the worst stretch of the entire race. Close to 20k with a tendency of going uphill. Luckily, in comparison with other runners that run the first stretches I could have a lie in. Therefore, I had to run in the sweltering midday heat. This really was a problem for me since I rather run in bad weather and the temperatures on Saturday were quite high. Anyway, my aim was to beat the 1:20 mark on my stretch, which I had closely missed 2 years ago.


After the nervous wait until I was handed over the baton from my teammate, it finally was my turn. I tried to head of slowly on the 20 kilometres ahead of me. Snaking my way through the woods, across roads and up hilly trails I was feeling pretty good, but lost my teammate accompanying me on his bike. Reaching the halfway mark and the highest point on the stretch, I was anticipating the aid station with a nice cool drink, since temperatures were exceeding my comfort zone. Unfortunately though, I incorrectly believed the drinks to come 4 kilometres earlier so from kilometre 11 onwards I was craving something to drink which didn’t come.

Finally, after a tricky descent down the other side of the “großer Beerberg” I reached the drinks station, greedily gulped down some water and had a short shower. The break cost me about 2 minutes, but my time was good and after some drinks I felt better, so the last 5 kilometres went really well. Running down into Oberhof, I had the last steep hill ahead of me. After going up way to fast two years ago I decided to go easy up the hill and try and run a quick pace down the other side. This worked pretty well and just as I reached the top of the hill, my teammate caught up with me again. This was a great relieve for me, since it meant that the following runner waiting at the end of my course would know when I would be coming.

I ended up running 1:18:28 in a pace of 3:57 which I am quite pleased with. After a bit of relaxing and travelling to the next changing point, I cycled the last two remaining stretches into the finish. In total our team reached the 13th place and was only 5 minutes slower than last year, so I’m satisfied with that result as well.

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Running against the heat

Due to the prevailing hot weather conditions, my motto for the race last Wednesday was the faster I go, the bigger the wind chill factor, the cooler I am. Of course, I forgot that at these high speeds friction also has to be taken into account…
Ok, back to the serious business: I must say that I’m no big fan of running in the heat but as it turned out during the half hour race in Ichtershausen, with a bit of wind on the home straight and drinking a lot on the way, I can cope quite well.

Starting with my usual surge ahead of the pack I maintained that position right until the end. Unfortunately though, my lap times were getting slower and slower, which was probably due to the heat taking its toll and me grabbing drinks at least every second round. That’s why I thought it actually wasn’t going to well and I was already counting down the laps needed to reach the 8000 metre barrier. I passed it with time to spare and maintained a steady pace during the last one and a quarter laps.

As the gun went of at the end, I managed a new personal best of 8676 metres, surpassing my old record by about 100 metres! Now it’s time to take it a bit more easy and get ready for the Rennsteig relay race next Saturday!