April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the category “Trail”

Juneathon Day 19: Good signs

French trails are beautiful and unless you follow signs (that can be somewhat hidden), each of them will bring you to a new place every day. So much for my morning sarcasm. After a good night rest we hit the road at 6.45 am and went 8.5 km into the hills again and as we ran we found these: 

On the way back we picked fresh bread for breakfast and quickly checked the local tourist attraction: Les Grottes:

Another sunny day in Villecroze…

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Juneathon Day 18: Villecroze Trail

Woke up into yet another beautiful, sunny and soon to become HOT day. Decided to try what in NL seldom can be done and what trail runners call a ‘technical trail’. Well, at least a short piece of it. Uphills. Thanks to Google satellites I found something that distantly resembled a tiny path among the trees and chalk rocks above Villecroze and suggested to V to go up there and check it up, running.

Now it is an hour later and we are back, after 8 km and a geocache we are drinking coffee getting ready for a kayak trip. Enjoy the pictures (which translates as feel the pain and smell our sweat haha).

Juneathon Day 9: Barefoot!

After a windy night we woke up into a stormy morning. Hmm – I wonder if the wind calms down at all and if the sand dunes will shield us at all as we run against it. Those were my morning thoughts before we headed to a new running adventure in the dunes between Katwijk and Wassenaar. The area is beautiful, we knew that already – but the wind, the wind was killing. We decided to run through the dunes SW, to Wassenaarse slag, to have a coffee there, check our legs and plan where to go from there. It was cold.  Running against wind this strong, it felt like inside some kind of outdoor treadmill: my legs were clearly pushing but I was not moving forward at all. The initial 5 km took us about 35 minutes and we ended up rather exhausted. Coffee and hot chocolate at the beach saved us. Again, the feeling of Christmas holiday and skiing trip was setting in: apart from us, there were only dog walkers around and German hardcore holiday guests.

The wind was so strong we could hardly open the door of the beach pub as we were leaving and it was blowing sand and dirt into our eyes, ears and… well, just about everywhere. At that point, as we wanted to run back on the beach, I decided to take off my shoes. My first barefoot run was just about to begin.  Feeling the cold wet sand under my feet (in combination with running) was an entirely new sensation. I was so scared everything would start hurting immediately and I would have to stop quickly but nothing bad happened. Luckily I did not step on one of those:
V was running next to me checking all the time if I was okay and according to her, I looked very happy. And that is exactly how I felt.

We ran about 4.5 km back to Katwijk and it was with great regret that I had to put on my shoes again. I have no idea how my calves, shins and hamstring will feel tomorrow but I cannot wait to return to the beach for more.

P.S. Written with my gratitude to the Royal Netherlands Meteorology Institute: If they didn’t predict a sunny day we would have missed this incredible 11.1 km adventure!

P.P.S. Off to Oranje soccer game (now that Czech rep has lost so badly I might like to switch teams…).

Juneathon Day 5: Panbos Revisited

Remember yesterday I said it was so nice in Panbos I would be back – ehm, it took exactly one day in the office to return there. This time I took V with me and we ran together, chatting. The funny thing is that my time was exactly the same as yesterday (when I was not chatting at all). So here is how the dunes looked today:

And here is a special milestone as promised to Fortnight Flo – unfortunately no mileage on it:

The one picture that I’d like to share with you brings memories from my childhood: I used to attend a scouting group focusing on biology named Alcedo (Latin for kingfisher). Here he is:

Juneathon Day 4: Panbos

Around 7 pm the rain finally moved inland and as I was thinking about how much concrete/paved road my knees can have tonight, I suddenly remembered how I used to enjoy the long walks with April. Back when she could walk and run well we used to go geocaching a lot. So there came an idea: why not to return to some of the splendid wild sand dunes areas but a bit faster this time? In a few minutes I was ready to go. Since V is out there with her tennis club tonight, nobody did the shopping. They only edible items I could find were 4 hard old gummi bear. I grabbed them and left the house.

The entrance to the Pan van Persijn area is about 15 minutes driving from our house and the landscape is everything but flat and boring. This is where the trail starts:

About 2 km further it passes a rather impressive wall of concrete which is the remaining bit of the WWII Transatlantic Wall, the former 2600 km long defence wall that Germans built between 1942-44 to protect ‘their’ new territory against the anticipated Allied invasion:

After a piece of history, a bit further I bumped into tiny houses of the local inhabitants (unfortunately nobody was at home):

Then suddenly the path took me out of the forest and I continued running through the sand dunes. No music in my ears, just me and the path – there was so much to look at all the time:My feet were enjoying the soft surface, no knee pain at all. I guess for the first time in weeks I will finally suffer from good old muscle ache – no sore joints for a change. At the end of the trail I returned to the forest again. I wanted to run further but something was telling it is better to stop when it feels the best – I can always return to Panbos for further exploration.

Weekend Adventures

Monday was a national holiday so we decided to utilise the three free days and go outdoors. On Saturday, we went to BBQ with friends in the National Park Veluwezoom. The weather was great and we loaded the convertible with the tent and sleeping bags – and of course the running gear. Also, we added one new item: our new inflatable kayak Sevylor Adventure. Yes, my dear readers, there is a new sport discipline that we are adding to our scope (and a new huge bag with gear that has to be squeezed in the garage):


But first things first. The Veluwezoom is a beautiful piece of nature in the heart of The Netherlands. It pretty much kills the Dutch stigma of a flat country with no trees. The 5000 hectars of this old national park are (slightly) hilly and woody and the nature looks pretty untouched here… which we went to check on Sunday morning during our (semi)trail. Yes, that is the first adventure I want to mention today: running on unpaved roads as I haven’t done much of it yet.

After the Saturday BBQ and a night in this tent

I promised V not to wake her up too early and if I did, and if she decided to run with me, we would do just a short run. Well, plans are there to be altered. What you see below is what Dutch call a ‘mushroom’.

It is the official Dutch tourist bond marking point that hikers and bikers use all over the country. I used it as well during our run (V mostly on the paved biking path and me next to her in the sand where horses would run) but somehow (and please don’t mention the female disability to read a map) the trail got longer and longer. To cut a long story short, we ended up with 12 km of hungry and thirsty running in the forest. Any better idea of how to start a perfect day?

Back in the camping, after the coffee and a proper breakfast we slowly packed our gear and started looking for suitable waters (= very quiet safe areas) to test the kayak. We found a small paradise here (Wijk bij Duurstede):

All afternoon we were playing with the boat and enjoying it to bits and so we decided to go to look for some more adventurous waters on Monday again. And that is exactly what we did. After my morning run we packed the boat again and 12 km from our house (!) we found this:

Deeply touched by the forest trail experience a day ago, we were clever enough to bring food and drink with us this time so we could enjoy the proper kayak picnic. So here I sit, with my shoulders and legs burnt by the long weekend sun, trying to force myself to unpack, shower, turn on the washing machine… but as so many times, sitting down with the glass of wine is the one activity that will win the fight tonight.

How was your weekend?

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