Although September was drawing to a close it was a warm, balmy night as we set off on the long drive to the Eifel Park in Germany and our fifth marathon in the 12 Country Tour.
The journey was familiar to us as we had been in a Holland the month before to run in the 3 country challenge – although this didn’t stop us getting lost and overshooting the destination. It was at this time that I discovered that my German wasn’t as good as my French when I went to ask the lady in the service station for directions and came out clutching the key to the loo!
However getting lost, the 12 hour journey and everything else was forgotten when we finally arrived at The Eifel National Park and saw the stunning views across the lake to the hills beyond. We had done it again – a bit of a stab in the dark with google earth and we had ended up here – runners paradise!
Anyway, because of our late arrival, there wasn’t time to congratulate ourselves, just get the gear on and start running! There was an undulating path that ran around the lake, dipping through trees, one moment touching the shoreline, next climbing up a narrow escarpment. We tried to be disciplined and not pause to often to take photographs, because we knew the actual race was with the light, but it was hard not to. Being Germany everywhere was immaculate – wooden benches (for those lucky enough to be able to sit!), convenient loo stops and places where you could buy water.
We had learnt our lesson about hydration for our marathon in Champagne and so were well prepared with plenty of water and we had learnt another lesson about nutrition from our Three countries Run – we were becoming experts at this!
We had both done a half marathon 10 days previously but were moving well and for once had no niggling injuries or coughs or colds – Eureka! We’d cracked it. On an on we went marvelling at the scenery and the diverse landscape before we arrived at a huge dam and decision time! Now if you’ve been following our escapades so far you’ll know that we are not big on planning or maps – stick the shoes on and start running – that’s our motto! But now with 13 miles on the clock we had to decide whether to double back or continue around the lake. The weather, which had been beautiful, was starting to turn and there were storm clouds brewing and we had no idea how big the loop was if we continued and we certainly couldn’t decipher the map in the car park. Then, as always seems to be the way with us, fortune came to our rescue – a charming couple, the man from England and his friend from Germany pointed us in the right direction. Thanks for that you two – you were right it was a long way and it was absolutely awesome!
We ran across the dam – another photo opportunity, and off down one of the inlets and a winding cinder path. By now it had started to rain and we knew it was going to be a race against time to get back to the car before the light went. There were very few people about and as adventurous as we were we didn’t want to be in the woods by the lake in the dark!
We were soaked through but didn’t care – this run was sensational. We turned a corner and there was the car, but we looked at the watches and realised we still had 8 miles to go. Pouring rain, light fading what were we to do – we grabbed some water for the car and then started at a cracking pace to complete another mini loop to take us to the magic 26.2 (come on – you didn’t think we were going to stop did you!) we had jettisoned everything to lose weight except for a couple of cliff bars.
On and on we went, faster and faster racing against the light. Then as we power walked up a hill, lungs bursting we checked the watches and knew that a sprint down the hill and a couple of miles round the lake would take us back to the car – we were going to do it!
At last, after what seemed like an eternity, we saw the car in the gloom waiting for us. As we lifted the tailgate the last of the light faded and we were plunged into darkness – we had done it, what a place, what an adventure, what a life!
Enjoy the stunning video which captures this wonderful place by going to our YouTube channel.