The Vienna Circle, as my regular readers (if such a species exists) would know, is my first bigger step towards self-made adventures.
The usual way to get known as a runner, of course, is to simply train and train harder, participate in established races, and win them. It’s unlikely I’d ever win, though – and it would be the wrong aim.
Winning is for losers.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the pleasure in being faster than others, I am as amazed by the winning times and feats of the likes of Scott Jurek or Anton Krupicka – but there can be only one winner, and counting it as a success only to be the winner is a surefire way to demotivate oneself.
The pleasure of long distance (trail) runs is that it’s a win to make it home again safely, a win to be able to move the next day, a win even to be called out as slow and to know that the distance behind is great already and the distance before is greater still, a win to crest a peak and see the sunrise, and a win to still be moving as the sun goes down.
Of course, the plan for this run still was to make it all around Vienna, anyways.
For once, it was not “the race” that just simply was scheduled, nor “I alone” who set out, but a friend – Fabian Bartsch – and I who had decided to use October 26 (Austria’s National Day and nicely falling on a Friday, giving two recovery days) for an(other) attempt at that circle.
We met up the night before at Fabian’s place, which is basically located on the track already, for a short sleep, a rude awakening at 3:30 in the morning, and a setting-out at 4 a.m.
Off we went, to rather less chilly temperatures than expected, a city that was fast asleep and for once had just about no cars on the vast majority of the roads. A city, also, that we stayed inside of even as we very quickly got to areas which had much more of a rural feel to them.
The time, and the distance, passed by quickly, with some talking about running, life, the world, and food, navigating mainly along the route I had set up on my Suunto Ambit and partly by map. First, of course, all in the dark, with quite a fascinating view of the more urban parts of town at a distance, lit up as usual, as it rather unfortunately is. (Sure, bright skylines look good – but how much of that light is basically just energy being wasted?)
Some time, in the (North)East of Vienna, daylight broke. Or rather, sneaked up on us, dull as it was under a grey – but pleasant-enough – sky.
Some of the areas we passed through were still familiar from my run on the Vienna Circle last year, when I also went here first, but in the other direction; quite a bit of the path was different again. Just what it is about: getting to know a place called home, really coming to be at home there.
We walked, and we ran. We got into the Donauauen national park, the floodlands on the Danube that remain in the Southeast of the city and provide a truly natural area. Interesting contrast, even having seen it before, to the rural-looking but more agricultural and created areas we had been passing through.
Next up, back at the Danube again (we went along it at the start), across the Danube at the Freudenau hydropower plant, and into more of an urban part of Vienna. Although, a part that has only recently been better integrated into the city…
Fatigue had taken its toll on Fabian quite early; poor guy had had more than a busy week (then again, at least he has some success with his entrepreneurial, web-designing doings…). Anyways, we walked as often as we felt like it, and we ran when we felt like that.
Fittingly (?), the end of this section goes through Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof). This time, it being later in the day, it was opened so that we could really pass through it.
Fascinating sight, indeed.
So many people who used this day for a pre-All Hallow’s grave visit – and not so few of them, driving up to the grave they wanted to visit in their SUVs. And what many of the graves are like!
Frankly: Just burn me. Let me have had the slightest of influences in making lives and living better (qua The Ecology of Happiness and at home in…) – but don’t erect friggin’ monuments of marble, no matter what.
Just here, I finally noticed that the Ambit – which I had set up for 60 second GPS fixes to get through the entire distance/time on one battery charge – was actually (because of the navigation, I’d assume) doing constant GPS fixes. Turned off nav, switched to the maps… (The entire record of the tour, by the way, can be found here on Movescount.)
Next up, over the railway lines where I had started the run last year, looking towards the east and thinking that actually, the distance still left was more than the distance it would take for me to get back home.
Over the fields there, into the South of Vienna. More built-up areas, and nice parks. Freeways and underpasses in said parks. A strange mixture, but not without its peculiar charm – if that’s what you want to call it.
Starting out on the next bit, along the Liesingbach creek – which can at least to some extent really be seen and followed as a somewhat meandering creek (if now, in a constructed bed), Fabian’s knee got rather worse, hunger struck, and we went a little aside for a break.
After continuing, there was some thinking on whether I should go on alone, faster, first, but we trudged on together, rather.
Entering the forest/park area towards the North, finally, was a strange experience. Finally, it feels like it’s all coming to a head, the end feels in sight… but it isn’t. It so isn’t. There is mainly forested parkland, except for some of the distance around Hütteldorf, some of it really wide, some not so large, but all coming one after the other, and for a long while. It would be a very long while, in fact – and then again, it should be “only” some 20-40 km more.
So, we went on towards the Lainzer Tiergarten (which sounds like it should be a zoo, but is more like a former kept hunting ground), took a shortcut along its outer edge – and then, at the Lainzer Tor (gate), decided that this had been a nice training session on a rather pretty fall day, which we managed to finish quite strong – and to be repeated.
There is the slightest sting of “failure” about not having completed, but it would have taken long enough to go into the next day – which is not what we’d have wanted. I think I do want that as a run into the next year, with a chance of seeing the fireworks for New Year’s from afar, so that’s what I’ve now planned to do for another attempt at the Vienna Circle…