2018 in review

Legends Trail

Legends Trail came a lot earlier in my running career than I ever expected. But after successfully finishing Legends’ the Great Escape and Bello Gallico 100 milers, I thought, why not? With all the support I got from the volunteers, and decent experience and navigation skills acquired in trekking, I managed to finish this 250k ultra. Even better, I enjoyed it! The first 100k I did in the company of others. The next 150k I was on my own. Being in my own zone with the support from others definitely proved to be my strong suit.


I apologise to those who I am connected to on social media for all the pictures from Oskar I have posted this year (well, not really). He arrived from a Portugese shelter end of February, and he’s adjusted just perfectly to turn in the awesome little buddy I hoped he would be! If there’s one thing we share, it’s we much prefer fast hillwalking over flat running.

Brecon Beacons & Ultra Trail Snowdonia

Over the past few years, I've really came to love the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia in Wales. This time would be no different. In May I set off to Wales for a short and easy 3-day trek through the Brecon Beacons. The weather was quite unusual, so I even ended up going for a swim in Llyn y Fan Fawr. After visiting my sister and her family near Llandovery, I drove North to Snowdonia to participate in the first edition of Mike Jones' Ultra Trail Snowdonia. On paper 100 miles and 10.000m elevation (in reality a bit more) including some technical sections, I was more than happy to be the final finisher. If there's one race I want to do again, it will probably be this one. The organisation, the area, the volunteers, they even had popcorn at the aidstations. Highly recommended!


The Piano

I'm not very good at playing it myself (started much too late), but boy do I love piano music. I sort of inherited this beauty of a S&s piano from 1892, which I was able to have restored. To say she plays like a dream is an understatement.


Another One Bites the Dust

So after finishing the Great Escape, Bello Gallico and Legends I found myself one of the eight lucky people still in the running to finish the Legends Slam. So I did what needed to be done, spend a weekend running loops. It didn’t go down well. But looking back, I can be happy on how far I got, and it confirmed what I already know on which races I like and which I don’t.


What better way to bounce back from a DNF at Another one Bites the Dust then by going for one of the most beautiful races in the world? Off to Austria for a 110k / 7000m elevation loop around the Grossglocker! The first evening started during the moon eclipse, which was replaced later in the night by a gorgeous full moon, so a torch wasn't even needed all the time. The rest of the race was equally amazing. And after the race, we were treated by a visit to the local spa to recover in style. All that in the best company. Yes, a lot changed during that weekend.


I will explain in another post how I became a “vandweller”, but in November Chloe and I took my tiny house on wheels to the UK. First to the Brecon Beacons for a family visit, farmlife and some running. Next up North to go running in Snowdonia in winter conditions. From there on we drove on to the Peak District, to join Ranger's ultra's Peak District South to North. Pretty amazing how much goodness can be fitted in a week!


Bello Gallico

It felt absolutely perfect to end the year running two loops in the dark with Chloe and so many other people I came to know these past few years. Instead of starting to feel older every year, I get to enjoy life more and more. Bring on 2019!

Mervyn Van Gompel