Well, what a week we’ve had! I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but it was an absolutely top week in Germany. We got looked after by everyone and even rewarded ourselves with a bit of luxury… a super speedy hire car!

Let’s rewind a little first, because I really don’t want to miss too much out of these blogs. I’m worried that my brain is being filled daily with new moments of awesomeness and the old memories will fall out.

So back to Marrakech first. Our last day there was Monday 1st. Daz and I didn’t want the whole trip to Morocco to just be about walking around town in Marrakech. We decided to take a trip to the “valley”, an area in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. We used the directions Mustapha gave us, headed to the taxi rank and got into some pretty ferocious bartering to get a Grand Taxi out to the Setti Fadma. It was a long and pretty boring drive. People really made the most of the cabs on the way out and Daz even saw one of them with 5 people in the front bench seat of an old Mercedes cab. What I did notice was how much unfinished roadwork there was. Plenty of the towns are obviously set up to sell junk to tourists, but the roads through the towns were so mashed up, I’d be surprised if anyone even tried to stop. I think you’d only stop if your driver had a shop he recommended (read – received a kickback from).

When we got to the end of the line, we were accosted by a number of guides, locals promising the tour of a lifetime for only $10 each. We basically followed the young guy, Aziz, for about 45 mins and ended up back in town. I would have preferred a decent coffee. The waterfalls we saw are undoubtedly very beautiful, but the tour is a joke and totally unnecessary, you should just follow the path up the hill. What was really cool was the views of the snow capped mountains not too far above. As we climbed higher up through the valley, you caught glimpses of these majestic peaks and felt like you could be anywhere in the world – New Zealand, Australia, Canada. The feeling you get when you’re high in the mountains, with fresh air and gushing streams fed by melting snow, is really rejuvenating. It was far from ideal to be climbing over rocks and trying not to slip with my runners on, the day after a marathon. We even tried climbing a rock face and would have slipped, but for a guy that was supporting us from beneath. Great views though and a nice outing.

That was until we were cruising back to town.. I had my iPod in and was falling asleep to the sounds of Doves (awesome band!), while Daz was watching the world go by. Then – heavy brakes, honk, skid, thud.  I opened my eyes as we came to a stop. Daz was sitting next to me with a horrified look on his face. The driver got out and started to look under the car. I asked Daz what was going on, but he’d now stuck his fingers in his ears and couldn’t hear me. I still had one ear piece in, so couldn’t fully hear what was happening, but Daz says – “It’s a dog, he hit a big dog!” I looked back and saw nothing in the road behind us. The driver took a look at the front of the car and then got back in, taking off with a nervous shrug.  Daz just kinda freaked out, saying he could here the dog squealing under the car, but I must admit, I couldn’t here it. The driver clearly hit something though and Daz was really upset to see something get killed or injured. Boo to that, nice way to ruin a lovely day in the country.

We got back into town and got changed. Daz and I were meeting up with Maxi and Hamish for dinner and I was looking forward to chatting to some Aussies. Maxi just happened to be coming to town the same time as us. As the daughter of one of my 3AW radio colleagues, the wonderfully radiant Danielle Irvine, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch up. We met in what had become our favourite food place, Chez Chagrouni, and had a good chat about their travels so far and what they planned to do next. Maxi had gone to Amsterdam to nanny for a year, but had ended up with a family that treated her like crap and so she chucked it in after nearly 6 months. I’ve heard some awesome stories and horrible tales about those situations, so was sad to hear she’d copped the latter. Hamish had chucked in his job to come over and tour with Maxi a bit, but they were both on super tight budgets and were rationing their meals each day. I forgot how hard it was for young backpackers. Both Daz and I had been there at times in the past, so could fully empathise with their situation and insisted on paying for dinner – all of $20, so not really a huge gesture. I made Maxi promise she’d eat one extra meal the next day! I hope their tour continued to improve, coz they’re a really lovely young couple and Maxi is a credit to her Mum.

The next day, Daz and I got the hell out of dodge. We’d had a good time in Morocco, but I’ve been to more enticing places on holiday. I would definitely go back and check out Casablanca and the coast though. I’d like to see what the surf is like and I reckon Spring time would be hot, fun and cheap in Maroc!

As we flew over the Mediterranean, I thought about how cool it was that I’d just run a marathon on another continent, my third in as many weeks. I’d now covered Asia, Europe and Africa, plus I’ve run in Australia a number of times. People dream of running on all 7 continents and I’d have 6 in the bag by July – as long as I could keep going. Unfortunately Antarctica would not get complete this year, as you need a good 10 days or more in January to get it done and the dangers of doing it and trying to back up with another within a week were out of the question. I’m crazy, but not completely stupid… not completely.

We flew back over Europe and I could already see snow capped mountains. The further north, the more snow. As we came closer to Germany, just cloud cover. We started to descend into Frankfurt and flew through the thick white blanket, the plane jolting through the turbulence. We seemed to sit in this haze for a ridiculous amount of time and as I looked down I couldn’t make out any sign of land. I began to wonder whether the pilot knew which way was up, let alone if he knew when the ground would start scraping the bottom of the plane. Then, what seemed like only 300 metres below, I could make out shapes, then roads, then houses, all covered in a think white blanket of snow. We finally emerged into the depths of one of Germany’s coldest winters. As we came closer to landing the turbulence was more ferocious and people groaned when the plane dipped sharply. I hate the feeling, but Daz really really hates it! He closed his eyes and gripped the armrests. I looked out to see the ground looming around us and the plane dipped again, so heavily that I thought we’d touch down prematurely. The pilot kept his cool and with a slightly sideways movement and another sharp dip, we slapped into the ground. I had to clap! That was so close to a complete disaster, but he pulled some magic out of the bag. General applause followed, which I’ve only ever seen in Europe. I started laughing, simulating the conversation in the cockpit for Daz: the pilot gripping the joystick like he was playing a flight simulator, saying to the co-pilot, “steady… hold… nearly…maybe….wait…a little left Hansie…hang-on, Sheiz, that’s a bit much mate…steady…oh, bugger this, we’re screwed either way – LET’S AV IT!”, and bang down on the joystick, bit of a bounce and high fives all round!

We walked outside of the aircraft and Daz and I looked at each other incredulously. SO MUCH SNOW! They’d had to scrape the snow off the footpath just so we could walk to the terminal. How they kept the airport open, I had no idea.

We walked down and grabbed a bus to Heidelberg. We’d have to ride the bus for a couple of hours, then get a train for about 45 minutes out to Zwingenberg Baden, where Dave, Nina and Asa live.  As the bus cruised through the countryside, I just couldn’t compute how we’d just left Morocco and the stinging sun of their Winter, to enter a complete white-out. Daz and I just kept looking outside and laughing. We got to Heidelberg and hopped onto the S-Bahn train. Some 13 stops later we were off and there was Asa and Dave, to welcome us. I was so happy to see some friendly faces after 12 hours of travel.

They drove us to their place, only a couple of minutes away by car, an amazing 3 story cottage, completely covered in snow. It was very German in design, looking much like a ski lodge. Asa and Nina had built an impressive snow bar outside and apparently they had been inviting all the locals over for a drink on the weekend, serving up icy cocktails in their driveway. Hilarious! The house had been built by the sisters’ grandfather, who’d also been instrumental in the creation of the township. Their grandmother lives on the bottom floor, Dave and Nina live on the first floor and Asa at the top. It’s a cozy setup and we were impressed to see how cool the interior was too. Dave and Nina had been busy renovating the space and it had a real retro chic to it, almost art-deco. Asa’s place had a similar feeling and there were pictures and models of old Combi-vans everywhere.

Dave is Daz’s mate from New Zealand. He’s an artist and teacher and they flatted together while studying in Dunedin, along with the super friendly giant, Kerry, who we’d met up with in Mumbai (sorry I didn’t write much about Mumbai…). I’d heard a lot about these guys, now meeting two of them in a matter of weeks. Kerry was a lovely individual, a lawyer who lived in a farming community back in NZ.  Meeting Dave, I realised that Daz didn’t have any crap Kiwi mates. They were all much like him – genuine, easy going, funny and a pleasure to be around. I’ve now had the pleasure of meeting a lot of them and have never had a bad experience. Maybe it’s just a Kiwi thing.

Dave and Daz had been to Ibiza a few years ago, actually the same year that Daz went there with me. At Bora Bora beach bar (really fun place to go!) the boys met two sisters. The sisters were as crazy as the boys, so they got along famously. They hit a bunch of clubs together and partied themselves silly, Dave and Nina getting to know each other super well in the process. Dave tells Nina that he wants to see her again, Nina says “Yeah sure, come see me.” Dave says he will and they part ways.

A week later, Dave calls Nina and tells her he’s bought a ticket to come see her… As she told me, “I couldn’t believe that such a nice guy wanted to get on a plane and come to see me. He didn’t ask me to come visit, he came to me! This has never happened before!” Anyway, long story short, they fell in love and have travelled the world together, now settling in her hometown for a while.  Dave teaches at an international school and travels 3 hours each day, just so he can stay living with his lovely girlfriend.

Daz hadn’t seen Dave or the girls since Ibiza. Their reunion was impressive to witness, with everyone getting excited and reminiscing about the good times. Unfortunately Nina was terribly sick, with some sort of bug that Dave was just recovering from. We were all a little worried that Daz and I would catch the same thing.

We crashed out and I slept like the dead till 10am. I hadn’t slept like that for a while. I find it difficult to sleep properly in hotels and hostels, because you always feel the need to stay a little alert. At a friend’s house, you can let your guard down and just stop. I really needed that. When I got up, I just got stuck into writing reports and catching up on emails.

The next couple of days were super relaxing. I was able to catch up on some sleep and work. Dave was still a little sick and Nina wasn’t going so well, so everyone stayed home for the first day. There was so much snow outside that, unless we were going snow-boarding, then there wasn’t much point to being out there. The snow storm a couple of days before had left thick layers of powder on the roofs, like thick icing on a wedding cake. As it began to thaw, you’d hear a loud rumbling noise, followed by a thud, as sections of the icing slid from the roof, clobbering unsuspecting passersby.

The following day was a lot clearer and Dave and Nina both had to go back to work. It was a Thursday and the rain dwindled in the morning, so Daz and I decided to go for a run. I didn’t want to enter this next marathon feeling nervous about whether my legs were working or not. It turned out to be quite difficult to find a path we could run on, even though we followed Nina’s directions. Snow or slush covered most everything, so in the end we hit the roadway that follows the river Nekker out along the valley. This is a huge river that feeds into the Rhine near Frankfurt. There are old villages and castles here that have stood for hundreds of years. The castle for the local Prince is just nearby the girls’ home and from the roadway it looks pretty spectacular. Apparently it’s still in use though, so was only available a few days a year for a sticky beak. Asa told us that he wasn’t the Prince Charming of fairytales, indicating that he was a somewhat average looking bald fellow. Nonetheless, he was a prince and a figurehead for the area.

I began to laugh as we traipsed along the roadway, trucks and cars barreling past at ridiculous speeds. We were going for a casual run in icy Germany, in a storybook valley, with medieval villages and castles, just days after running a marathon in the very warm Muslim cultural centre of Marrakech. Here you could see our breaths against the cold, frigid air passing our lips to keep us going. I found it hard to believe that we were running in these Wintery conditions. We trotted up the river, turning around near a large loch. A big barge cruised past, heading down river, loaded with scrap metal. There must be a bit of money in scrap metal, because Captain Kruger had a shiny new Audi sitting on the back deck.

We ran back through the snow covered forest and Daz began to struggle a little with his knee. He was to run his first half marathon on Sunday, his birthday, so this wasn’t a great sign – but we had some time to recover and when we got back, Daz knelt in the snow for a while, getting a quick freeze.

Asa is a great fun girl and the sisters are very close. Asa was waiting to find out if she’d scored a new landscaping job, so she was at home during the day. Tough time for landscaping too, but she’d been in practice with the ice bar. She’d already made us a big pasta salad when we came inside, so we were being well looked after. Asa had plans for us too, driving us up through the countryside, some 20kms away, to her mother’s house. It was an amazing old cottage, over 100 years old, with large barns around it. They had a sheep dog, which I started to correct them by telling them “back in Australia we call this dog a German Shepherd”, but I trailed off as I realized that was like calling a Bluey an Australian Blue Sheep Dog – just sounds kind of stupid announcing your own country in the name.

We went outside after a coffee/cake fix and played catch with the dog, throwing snowballs into the air for her to chase. Mrs Müller had ducks, geese and all sorts of trinkets and collectables around her house. It was an awesome farmhouse experience, something akin to being on the set of The Darling Buds Of May. Then Daz got nailed by a well aimed shot from Asa… You almost knew it was coming, but it’s always funny to watch it unfold. In fact I’ve watched the video quite a number of times and still chuckle – check it out. Later we had dinner with Asa’s friend Magda. She was a really cool girl and she even said that mine was her favourite name of all time, asking if I knew about the story of Tristan and Isolde.. I did know the story, a tragic tale that is the basis for my name, but told her I’d never met an Isolde (remember this for later).

Next day, we went with Asa and Nina into Heidelberg for a walk around. There’s a huge old castle, now owned by the state. It’s clearly a pretty big tourist destination, but apparently not too much inside, so we just walked around. The town itself has a long street mall and with dozens of shops. Daz jumped a train to go to Dave’s school and help him with a sports class – apparently they had a great time and Daz kept trying unsuccessfully to give “Mr. Henderson” crap in front of the kids! I stuck around in town and bought Daz a birthday present, a funny blue t-shirt with a picture of some guy called Bud Spencer as “Banana Joe” – a crazy 80s character from a slapstick action film. This guy has a huge following in Germany and Italy, so it seemed like an appropriate joke.

When the boys got back into town, we had a meal and went to a nice little bar, called Destille, with a big tree in the centre. It was small and cool and we knocked back some very unfortunate shots to celebrate Daz’s birthday. I can’t remember what they’re called, but there was Tabasco involved, sugar and flames. They were pretty disgusting, but everyone had their fair share and I tricked Daz into having a couple of extra. The fantastic outcome was that Dave and Daz got drunk enough to take their shirts off and do a Haka at the stroke of midnight to celebrate Waitangi Day (New Zealand’s national day). I had the music turned down and introduced them, Dave leading and Daz following in a glorious rendition, especially from Dave! The other patrons were pretty surprised by it all, especially because my introduction was in English and probably didn’t mean much. I loved it though and they got a round of applause for their efforts!

Next day, nursing a hangover, I went to pickup a rental car, a VW Golf wagon.. This has got to be one of my brightest ideas so far. It was half the cost of getting a train to cover the 500kms to get to our race in Bad Füssing, but better than that, it meant we weren’t standing around in bus stops and on train stations in the freezing cold. We even upgraded to get the Sat Nav system, though initially I thought I’d follow my nose and trace the map route I’d “memorized”. An hour later and we were lost. I punched in the co-ordinates to the Sat Nav and it told me I was a clown and shouldn’t be driving on German roads…well that’s how I interpreted the “please make a u-turn if possible” monotone woman’s voice. But we made pretty good time and covered the bottom half of Germany in just 5 hours.

The great thing about driving on the autobahn, is that the speed limit on the roads says 120 kmph, but you can drive as fast as 140 without getting booked and it actually feels about right . The scary thing is that everyone will do that speed even though there’s snow everywhere and it’s raining outside. The truly terrifying thing, is that we were traveling at 140 and cars/vans/trucks and donkeys were passing us as though we were standing still. These Germans have fast cars and they’re not afraid to use them. Most cars on the road here are quite new, with a fantastic government initiative to subsidise the purchase of new cars and trade in your old ones. I do find it strange that most Germans are pretty regimented and stick to most every rule shoved their way, but when it comes to hitting the autobahn, they chuck the rule book out the window, mercilessly crush the pedal and rely on German precision technology to keep them from hurtling through a barricade and into a picturesque river. I was scared of all of them. Zie Germans, zey love zie dancing and zie insane race driving…

We headed to Bad Füssing, powering along the roads in Freddy (now the car’s name), following the commands of the Veronica, the dominatrix in the dashboard. She delivered us right to the door of a huge complex in what seemed like a pretty regional area. The marathon was an event organized and promoted by the Johannesbad Spa Complex, a huge thermal pool resort that Germans go to for holidays and rehabilitation. The place was full of patrons and the foyer was bustling with a little running expo. We asked for the race director, a gent named Jürgen Knaus. The guy we spoke to, asked, “Who shall I say?” Tristan Miller is my name. “Ahh, the crazy Australians..” Ahhhh haha, yes, we replied..

He directed us upstairs and we were soon introduced to a tall affable guy. He was pleased to see us, but also clearly very busy. “I have a got your race entries downstairs,” he told us, “and the directions to the complimentary hotel”. Fantastic! “You should eat at the pasta party now though as it will end soon.” Ok, sounds good. Free food, accommodation and a race entry – outstanding! “Just one question though,” he paused, “52 marathons in one year? Are you guys crazy?” He laughed. Haha, yeah, that’s the plan. So far, so good. Jürgen gave us all the info and took us downstairs to the food hall. People packed the tables in different team race jackets, eating bowls of pasta and drinking non-alcoholic beer. It was a pretty good atmosphere and although tired, I was happy to be there.

We gave our directions to Veronica (the GPS) and she told us where to go. The car pulled up in front of a fantastic old resort, completely surrounded by snow. We were very lucky to have a car and the fact that the Johannesbad management had looked after us so well was quite phenomenal.

The next day, we drove back to the resort to find it completely surrounded by cars! The place was packed and punters were all wearing body suits and Skins of all descriptions. I was impressed at how many people they had there, with around 1200 competitors braving the cold to be part of the 17th running of this race. The start and finish was at the front entry of the resort, so you had a ready made crowd and support area. Most runners waited inside till it was a few minutes to take-off and then everyone got outside to get into it. Daz and I stood in the crowd, ready to start a race together for the first time. It was his birthday and we were standing in the middle of snowy Bavaria about to run into the whitened countryside. Daz was a little nervy, but pumped too. The race kicked off with a bang of the gun and we funnelled over the line.

It was a lovely run actually. There were runners in costume and people were chattering away as Daz and I dodged through the crowd a little to get past some of the slower runners. We ran along roads that had only been cleared of ice the day before. Everyone seemed very prepared for the run and quite happy to be there. I like the Germans, they really get into this fitness stuff with big smiles on their faces.

We passed a few “Deutsch 100 Club” runners. Their seemed to be a lot of very experienced players in this crowd. As we drew past the 5 km mark, we passed another drink station and they were handing out cups of ISO (pronounced EEE SS OOO, apparently). Daz grabbed one, gulped and made a face. “Heated?” I asked, thinking of my Zurich experience. “Yeah man, that’s weird”, he replied. It was weird, but I guess it made sense in these conditions.

Many supporters braved the cold, especially as we passed through the villages. Daz was coasting and we were doing close to 5 minutes per k. It was really fun to run with my mate, getting some photos of us in this most unlikely of running destinations. If you had have asked me a year ago if this is what I’d be doing, I’d look at you suspiciously – do you know something I don’t? If you asked Daz, he’d laugh at you, put his birthday disco pants on and be back in 2 days. Yet here we were, a couple of pals, blazing a trail through the snow in southern Germany.

People were mostly running in as teams in this race. Sets of two and three people running together. I don’t know why I noticed this, but it seemed kind of different to what I’m used to. Maybe people huddle against the cold by instinct, even in a marathon. Anyway, after about 8km, I noticed I was losing Daz. I’d be running with him next to me, then all of a sudden he’d be 20 metres behind. I slowed down a few times, then said I’d probably go. But Daz picked up the pace! He ran really well and we stayed together for another 4 kms. The race is a double loop of 21kms, so the further we stayed together, the closer Daz was to home. I ran next to a nice guy called Rudy and we chatted for a bit. He was training for the Barcelona Marathon. I’d met a number of people doing that marathon, which made me think I mighta missed a really good one by leaving it off the list. I tried explaining what I was doing in broken German – “Zwei und funfzig marathon in zwei und funfzig wochen”. He got it, but still looked at me as though I was talking gibberish. “Wow!” was pretty much where it ended.

I said bye to Daz after 12km. I looked at my watch and it was a little past the hour. I’d been planning a new strategy and decided it was time to implement. With all the travel and the recovery, I wasn’t getting much chance to do speed work. I figured that I could run at least 10kms of each race at my ideal pace and then expand on that as I progressed through the months. Now was a good time, as my legs were warmed up, so I started to run a little faster, intending to slow down again after 25kms. I was passing people now and feeling good, so it wasn’t long before I was running through the finish line for the half marathoners and heading out for my second loop. I’d passed the half at 1:43, now a fair way off posting a fast time, so I wrote it off and took this as a training exercise.

Daz’s leg was knee was seizing up when I left him. He told me that he was really struggling around 17km and started to walk/run, walk/run. Then at 19km his legs were completely numb and he ran again, pushing with everything he had for the last couple of kilometres to finish just under 2 hours in 1:58.58. Top effort by Daz and he felt like a hero after that. He’d even stopped at every single stop and grabbed chocolate biscuits, drinks and fruit. That’s what pulled him through apparently, especially coz “It was free Bro!” Haha, never one to pass up an opportunity of a free feed.. I loved it!

I dumped a GU after the halfway mark and it gave me some extra gas. I kept pushing at the same speed, thinking I’d slow down around 25km. By this stage I was picking up runners and passing them easily. A few times the runners I passed piped up, saying something to me in German. It sounded like, “Hey, you’re looking strong!” I had to reply that I didn’t speak Deutsch – “Sorry, only English!”

But I was pumping. I looked at my watch and I’d definitely picked up a couple of minutes.. Maybe I’ll just hold it and see where I am after 30km. The 30 mark was way out in the middle of nothing, right by a frozen dam. How cool would it be to go ice-skating?! C’mon, focus, still running. It was beginning to hurt, but I wasn’t ready to give in. I dumped GU number 2.

I always like to assess how I feel and what time I’m on at 32km. That means I’ve only got 10km to go and I can easily work out what kind of time I’ll be looking at for the result. As 32km and a drink stop appeared ahead, I looked at my Garmin and saw 2:30 ticking by.  Hmmmm… Assuming I can hold under 5 minute kms, I’d be done by about 3:22.. I was pretty sure I could do that. In fact, if I held my current speed, I might even go under 3:20.

That was a little silly… But feasible… But stupid… But possible.. Crazy, crazy, crazy… but maybe, just maybe..

I looked to my left. Frozen fields of wheat. I looked to my right, fields and fields of nothing but snow. Nothing but white, with a few trees and houses sticking up. Mountains covered with icing in the distance. Holy crap, what am I doing out here???

My watch beeped at me as 33km rolled by – 4:19.. Hang on, I’m going quicker. Ahh, ok, I can hold this. 1km later 4:23, haha, now I’m struggling. No more sub 4:20, just hold under 4:30 and when I’m close to the end I can slow down and let  a 3hr 20min finish come up. I looked at my Garmin and the heart rate said I was going to be dead in the next couple of minutes, with my reading sitting at around 230bpm. Well that can’t be good…dodgy Garmin..

But, of course, I didn’t drop dead and I didn’t slow down. Each km came by and I was still sitting under 4:30. I recalculated and considered that I was now going to jam out a 45 minute final 10km. That would have me in PB territory again. Not possible. Stupid. 5km to go.

I had 2hrs 53 on the clock. Holding 4:30 per km, I was looking at 22 and a half minutes for the final leg, but that didn’t take into account the last 200m, a guaranteed minute. But also, because my Garmin had managed to add a few hundred metres more, I knew it would come down to about a minute. Try calculating all of that after 37km of fast running.

Now I wanted it. I thought about how cool it would be to pull out another PB and decided it was possible if I could hold under 4:30 per km. I pulled out a 4:19 in the next km and knew I could do it. Everything was screaming and I had earlier past a sign for a village called Hart… All heart buddy, I thought, all heart! My brain was now saying no, my body was saying no, but my heart took over and drove me on for one last rush. I passed some more runners, including a woman who was also running strongly.

As I entered the final kilometre, I passed some supporters huddled and they cheered me on. I turned the last corner and powered past the 42km mark, stretching my legs for the final 200m. I was home, but not by much. The clock was ticking over 3:19 above the finish line, but I knew that I’d started a couple of minutes after the gun. I sprinted across the line and was stoked to see Dazzler waiting. I really didn’t think he’d be there, because I was far too early. But here he was with a look of amazement! “Whoaaah Brooo! That’s an amazing time!”

I stopped and nearly dropped… I looked at my watch and had beaten Las Palmas’ PB by 40 seconds. My body was screaming and my lungs were tight. My left calf was hurting and I felt a little dizzy. My face was frozen from the cold wind. And all of a sudden, I was annoyed at myself. That was a huge amount of effort for 40 seconds. I’d taken 7 minutes off my first half time to get it, which is really far too much after such a huge month. It was dangerous and foolish and I realised I’d made a mistake that day.  I looked over to Daz and grinned tiredly. “That was for you buddy”, I said into the camera, “Happy birthday… And to Kirsten and Nick, wishing you all the best.” Kirsten’s Mum was really sick and we really wanted her to know that we were thinking of her. Nick is our Press Manager and Kirsten works with our web agency, Areeba. They’re an awesome couple and two of our strongest pillars.

Daz and I went inside and headed straight into the massage area. I peeled off my Skins, which had kept me warm for the long run. They were caked in salt at the back, absorbing the sweat as it seeped from my legs. A girl named Ann-Marie worked on my legs for a while. That’s the beauty of this marathon really, it’s an amazing recuperation resort, so the PERFECT place to be after such a strenuous body beating.

Then mistake number 2, apart from running too quick. I didn’t go outside and sit in the snow. I went down with Daz and got straight in the Thermal pools that were +35 degrees. Half the pools are inside and half are outside. We opted for outside, where it was still only 2 degrees above the pool, but nice and toasty in the water. If you don’t intend to run much in the following week, then that’s not a big deal, but for a quick recovery, you really need to ice your legs. And I only had a 5 day gap to the next marathon….

I knew I should get in the ice. I wanted someone to lead me out and put me in the snow. I should have said something to Daz. But instead I just stayed in the lovely hot water and let my body relax. I can’t tell you how nice it felt and Daz kept laughing about how awesome his birthday was.

Later we met the Chairman of the group, Johannes Zwick, as well as the Senior Director, Helmut Karg. They loved what we were doing and even gave Daz and I t-shirts as a present for his birthday. Jürgen was there and we thanked all of them for the extraordinary kindness they’d shown in supporting our marathon effort. I really was taken back by their generosity. Truly genuine people, with a great business, an awesomely well organised marathon and a wonderful attitude to life. Thank-you so much gentlemen, I am indebted!

Strangely, I also got to meet the female winner of the race.. She was the same girl I’d passed running strongly toward the end. She was the next finisher after me, just a few minutes behind. And it turns out her name was Isolde! Freaky and kinda cool. Though I am glad I beat her, haha! And just before we left, we met a really lovely couple that Daz had been talking to in Zurich at that marathon, Günter and Barbara. It was great to see them and they are very active in the marathon world with their own website, so we are bound to see them again. Thanks for your support guys!

We hopped in Freddy the VW and powered to Munich. The next night we would fly to Egypt, but for that night, it was still Daz’s birthday. We met a really lovely young Spanish couple, Carlos and Mareya (I’m sure I spelled this wrong), along with some really nice Swedish girls, though I only remember Amy’s name. We drank shots of tequila and a few beers and it wasn’t long before Daz and I needed a long and well deserved sleep.

The next day we tried to walk around Munich, but at -4 degrees, we didn’t last long. Booo to the cold, time to go to Egypt! 30 degrees, here we come!

One last happy birthday to Daz. He’s a champion on every level I can think of and I love him like my brother. Thanks for being there man….


PS. I know this was long and a little slow, but this is still the only journal I’m ever likely to write, so I have to get it down. But don’t give up on me, because the Egyptian experience has been insane from start to finish and will be an awesome read. I’ll have it up in a couple of days. You’ll love it!