Tag Archives: Adventure

Roparun 2016

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“To ad life to the days, where days cannot be added to life anymore.”

Roparun – an event with a good cause. While running non-stop in relay from Paris (or Hamburg) to Rotterdam (524 kilometer) in the Pentecost weekend, money is collected for people with cancer. Since 3 years I am member and coordinator of one of the 400 teams joining in this challenge.

Our team, Teamall4Friends, consists of 25 people: 8 Runners, 6 cyclists, 2 navigators, 5 drivers, 2 catering ladies, a masseur and a team captain. The run is a relay race with 2 sub-teams of 4 runners, each covering about 30 to 50 km per stage. In the end, each runner has covered roughly 65 km. The whole run takes about 43 hours. Throughout the year sponsors are contacted and events are organised to collect money for the foundation and for the run itself. After a whole year of planning, collecting funds and arranging the necessities for our run, Pentecost has come and we finally go to Paris.
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Roparun – 14 – 16 May
It feels good to see everybody again. The people in my team I know, but not on a very personal level. Yes, we spend 3 days together in rather tough circumstances. Non-stop, day and night we are on the road. We do everything together without much sleep, we eat little and are sometimes packed for hours in a small bus. It gives some feeling of intimacy. We talk, laugh, sing, complain, suffer, give compliments… we agree to be honest to each other. How will it be this year?
The weather is reasonable. Pentecost is early so it is cold, very cold. Especially in the night shifts. But it is mostly dry. The exciting feeling at the start is all we need for the first stage. The average speed is high, 12,5 km/hr. The guys love to run. We sub-devided the stages in small bits.1km running, 3 km rest, 1 run, 3 rest, and on and on and on. Until the stage is over and our next team is taking over.
I am a navigator. I keep us on track, inform the sub-team of challenges to be overcome during the stage and am the trouble shooter. If something happens, I find the solution, I fix the navigation, put batteries in the GPSes, feed the cyclists and keep the driver alert. I am the contact person for the base camp and our other team. A role I really like, because no stage is the same. I can look outside, make pictures and post them on our live site and on twitter and facebook. Just to keep the home front informed.

This year I will also run in one of the stages. Something I really like to experience myself. What do they feel, how do they experience the route, the supporters, the other teams on the road. It is only a bit more than 10 km, but I love it. Running in the beautiful countryside of northern France, crossing the border to Belgium, hearing the cheers and getting tired. I want more. There was not more this year. Maybe next year?

The days are intense. First night no real sleep. Just a power nap of maybe 15 minutes. Second day I still feel ok. Get a bit of sleep on a small camp bed on a parking somewhere in Belgium. Funny idea and part of the adventure. Just get into your sleepingbag somewhere and try to get some sleep in the open air. Lovely. Along the route are many villages giving us a warm welcome. People are awake day and night and party as long as the teams pass by. Next night again just a power nap. Fatigue is entering our bodies and minds. Small annoyances come up, but nothing too serious. Every year I am surprised how most people can manage, even though they must feel dead tired. Somewhere I seem to enjoy it so much, that it overcomes the negative feelings. We are on a mission!

In the morning of the third day we arrive on a large parking. We share it with all the other teams. Busy, tired faces, sore legs, but still eager to go for the last 60 kms. There are showers in the public swimming pool. Yes, time to take care of myself a bit. It is lovely and will keep me going until the evening. In the mean time the ladies from the catering are making pancakes and grilled toast with cheese.

After 43 hours in the race, and 55 hours of being ‘awake’ we finish in Rotterdam. We finish almost 2 hours ahead of planning, with an average speed of 12,1 km/hr. We are 26th of 252 finishing teams. We feel good! We meet our family and friends at the finish line and after the official ceremony and group picture we feel tired but so satisfied. We did it again!

Now, after a few nights of sleep I feel proud. I am part of a great team. Even though I meet some people only for these 3 days, I can still say sincerely that I love  them!

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Il fuego & il mare

For years and years I knew I wanted to see lava. I just never knew where to go to, until my work made sure I got connected with geologists. I learned  about Stromboli soon enough. A volcano, close by, erupting 360 days a year in the Mediterranean. In May 2010 I finally made the trip to Stromboli & Sicily with some friends. We arrive in Catania, get our rental car and drive to the north.
We stay the first day in the historic town of Milazzo. A quiet town, nice buildings, good coffee and beautiful views on the Mediterranean. We buy our ferry tickets to Stromboli for the next morning. A ferry takes us in no time to a typical volcano fantasy. A strato volcano in the sea. The sight is impressive and very quiet. No traffic on this island, just some small tricycle scooters. And the weather is lovely. We will go up the mountain at the end of the next day, so we enjoy the scenery and the superb food.

Hiking up Stromboli is a touristic event. The number of visitors is regulated, due to the danger on the volcano. We get a helmet, a safety talk (don’t run when she erupts, watch where the lava bombs are falling and duck away in time) and we leave around 4pm. The idea is to be on top when the sun sets. For an extra spectacular view. The hike up is easy and nice. Fantastic views on the island, searching for some small hexagonal pieces of lava in the ashes on the slopes. When we get to the top, the sun is already setting slowly and beautifully. Between us and the sunset is something I hoped to see. Stromboli is erupting from 3 craters. Wow! Red hot lava is spit meters high in the air. How powerful nature can be. The sound is like crisping wood in a fireplace. It keeps on exploding, and more, and more… until we need to go down. Unfortunately we only get roughly 30 minutes on the top to enjoy this show. Then we have to go down, skiing downhil through the ashes on our shoes, in the dark! We end the day in a restaurant, with a bad pizza and a nice bottle of wine. A little tipsy we enjoy the fantastic experience of the day. Something to remember for ever!

The next day we go back to mainland Sicily. We have a few more days and decide to visit another famous volcano, Mount Etna. After driving some hours through the countryside, passing historic villages and meeting a few locals in their orange orchard, we stay over in Linguaglossa, a small town with a beautiful view on Mt Etna. With its roughly 3.3 km height (this differs from eruption to eruption) it is the second highest volcano in Europe, after Mt. Elbrus. It is on the list of World Heritage Sites from Unesco, it is more than twice as high as Mt. Vesuvius and it is one of the most active volcanoes in world. We drive though a beautifull forrest and natural area when all of a sudden the road passes through a lava field. And then, in the distance, the volcano is looming out of the trees. Still with some snow on the top. It looks impressive and seems so harmless. The size of the lavafield, remains from very recent eruptions, tells us otherwise. We enjoy the scenery for a while and drive down to Catania.

In Catania we stay the night. But not before we do some sight seeing. It is a nice town, very Sicilian, with churches and a nice square. We enjoy a tasty sea food dinner and a good glass of wine (Nero d’Avola). It was a very short break, but worthwile in many ways. I am sure I will come back one day! Addio…


In Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth (Voyage au Centre de la Terre), Axel and Otto Lidenbrock emerge from their subterranean journey from the volcano on Stromboli:

Right above our heads, at a great height, opened the crater of a volcano from which escaped, from one quarter of an hour to the other, with a very loud expression, a lofty jet of flame mingled with pumice stone, cinders, and lava. I could feel the convulsions of Nature in the mountain, which breathed like a huge whale, throwing up from time to time fire and air through its enormous vents…

‘Come si noma questa isola?’ – ‘What is the name of this island?’ ‘Stromboli,’ replied the rickety little shepherd, dashing away from Hans and disappearing into the olive groves. We thought little enough about him.

“Stromboli! What effect on the imagination did these few words produce! We were in the center of the Mediterranean, amidst the eastern archipelago of mythological memory, in the ancient Strongylos, where Aeolus kept the wind and the tempest chained up. And those blue mountains, which rose toward the rising of the sun, were the mountains of Calabria.”

Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne