Maybe, you’ve just finished a 10k running race for the first time ever and now you are looking for a new challenge. What about walking 100 kilometers in 24 hours? The Dodentocht (Dead March) in Bornem is an event that takes place every year in August and is considered the ultimate challenge for every walker. Over ten thousand people start the challenge, but only half of them can call themselves a finisher the day after. Here are a few tips so you can reach the finish line succesfully.
Do not take the challenge too lightly. Hundred kilometers of walking is physically heavier than running a half marathon. A lot of starters do not know what they get themselves into and they have to endure the first painful muscle cramps only twenty kilometers later. Far too early if you want to complete the Dodentocht. The most important part of your entire preparations for the Dodentocht is the purchase of sturdy hiking shoes. Make sure that these are comfortable and that they are properly broken in before you start the race. This can be done by walking with the same pair during your training weeks.
Tip number two. Your challenge does not start with the start of the Dodentocht. No, your challenge starts with a good preparation. Start your training at least six weeks in advance and walk distances of 20 up to 70 kilometers. Make sure you build up enough to walk 70 kilometers during your last but one training week. After all, for most hikers seventy kilometers is a distance that your body will fail completely if you are not properly trained. The last week, a training of about 20 to 25 kilometers is sufficient so that you can start well rested.
A few days before the start there may be doubts about whether it was a good idea to sign up for the Dodentocht. Rest assured, it is common to everyone, but the closer the day comes, the worse the walking virus will emerge and soon you’ll start looking forward to your challenge. A big advantage is to walk the Dodentocht with some friends. It can be a motivation during the difficult moments that you will undoubtedly experience in your adventure. If you are walking solo on a trip, you must be aware of the fact that the Dodentocht is a mass event, without even taking the many spectators who encourage you in the middle of the night into account.
D-Day. If possible, get some sleep the hours prior to the Dodentocht, because
remember that you will have to walk a full night and a full day. Sleep deprivation can be a challenge as having a bad stamina. Walking in the night has other disadvantages. It is best to walk with long trousers to avoid cramps at an early stage. You can safely exchange them in the early morning for shorts if it’s get too hot. The hundred kilometers of hiking is divided into stretches of up to 8 kilometers. Sufficient resting places where you can get supplies. Eat and drink sufficiently during these moments. At the same time it is not necessary to take a lot with you on the way. Therefore, carrying little or no baggage during your hike is recommended.
The starting signal has now been given and you start enthusiastically on the hundred kilometers of hiking. But be careful! Do not start too fast and do not let yourself get carried away with the crowd. Some can deal with a higher walking pace due to their experience. Others, on the other hand, hit the wall in the early stages due to their speedy start. Dose your energy. Do not forget that you are in a long distance race. The first fifty kilometers you walk at night and that is also the moment when most atmosphere is present. Residents along the course constantly support the heroes who take upon the challenge. Once the sun rises, the many spectators disappear. It is also the first moment at which practically every walker begins to feel his fatigue. Fifty kilometers of walking is also creeping in, isn’t it? A useful tip to help you out of this and to give you a new boost for the next half is music. Bring your mp3 player with you and plan in advance that you take it out once you have passed the 50km marker. Like a reward for walking fifty kilometers. With violent beats or drunken melodies you get a mental and physical boost while you are passing by your sagging fellow walkers.
It helped, didn’t it? But every beautiful song comes to an end and perhaps you start to get serious problems with fatigue, cramped muscles and painful feet. No, do not take off those shoes, no matter how much it hurts. There is a big chance your feet are swelling and this would mean the end of your race. Now comes the most difficult part of the Dodentocht. Undoubtedly you now think: “I am beat and I still have to walk another 35 kilometers. That will never work! “It does work! Don’t think about how long it is until the finish but think about how far it is until the next resting post. Every resting post is now an goal in itself. This may also be the time to ask for support from the home front. No doubt their thoughts are with you and they can just let you know with a text, facebook or twitter! A motivational message can be a virtue!
Does the idea of giving up still haunts you? Think of the long distance that you have already covered. Would not it be a shame to give up now after that hard effort. The remaining distance may seem long, but with giving up everything has been in vain. Look around you and you will see that you are not the only one who is suffering. Lift your spirit by embracing the fact that there are still a lot of people around you in the same situation. Giving up doesn’t mean your legs and feet will miraculously stop hurting and abandoning the race will haunt for weeks. Successfully reaching the finish, however, is an accomplishment that will make you proud for the rest of your life.