In general, running seems far less popular on the continent than back home. Or perhaps it’s simply because cycling is so practical, safe and easy in the flat regions and therefore there are far more cyclists than pedestrians. As for the Netherlands, they have more cycles in the country than people – kind of like cars in the UK.
So far I’ve spoken or run with three runners across France, Belgium and Netherlands. You could say it was a bit of a surprise when in a tiny village last week the first runner I meet in Germany appears in a bright white estate car with the words “run the world” and “40,000km” written on the side!
It just so happens to be Dotknąć Swiata, a Polish runner who set off from home two weeks ago towards Germany, Belgium and France, with the aim of running around the world.
To say I was stunned is putting it lightly. I hadn’t even planned to be in town at that time of night but I needed to repair some kit (that’s another blog post…for now I’ll just say that from experience, “waterpark” in German translates as “Mosquito farm”) and have a proper sleep. I’d found a cheap guesthouse for the night, but had to return to town to use the cash point.
It was there that another person as crazy as I appeared. At first I thought it was someone paying me a surprise visit, having tracked me with my satellite beacon…I mean there couldn’t possibly be another person running around the world whose route just happened to cross with mine, and not just on the same day but within a couple hours of each other, and just as I’m standing here…
But it was!
In fact he’s more crazy than I! He kept his plans secret until three days before he set off, when he then told his village “I’m running around the world – I leave in three days”
Unfortunately he only has funds to last him a few more weeks “I have until Paris to find sponsors, if not I run the distance at home”
He seems pretty serious. If he can’t find sponsors in the next month he’ll return home but then run loops around his home village each day until he’s logged the 40,000km he wishes to run. It’s ballsy enough trying to take on the world, to do it without backing takes another level of self-belief!
I still can’t believe the coincidence but I made sure I grabbed a photo, so you guys back home know I’m not hallucinating from heat stroke or from eating the wrong wild berries in the woods…
In the smallest of villages, in the dark, two guys trying to run around the whole of the world, in opposite directions, just happened to cross paths!
I wish him the best of luck both with his search for backing and his challenge to run 40,000km in two years.
P.S. “I still can’t believe it…!”