Parental advisory: this context might contain strong language.
Text: Niklas Marten
Bilder: Max Menning
So how is the TSP Race? I’ll tell you how it is. We go to bed at 12PM because we had to buy food and shit and tape this RV with 1000.000.000 (no joke!) roles of tape. Best part is that our alarm goes at 2:30AM because sleep is overrated. So we get up at 2AM all super excited and pumped (NOT you’re just tired and wanna go back to bed). But our Bro’s Marco and Björn bring the RV at 3AM and we’ve to load in tons of food and luggage and 18 people and everybody’s ALREADY tired and Max Menning looks like a robot because he has GoPro’s on all of his body parts and films already like a motherfucker and yeah…that’s basically how everything starts. No glamour, just Kraft Runners on the edge.
Then the best part comes, somehow everybody and everything fits in the RV and the two support cars and everybody starts to get happy but then there’s the house key missing so the mood declines immediately because the key is not at Max’s top secret spot in the plant pot with the three scratches (burglars, please ignore this sentence) but then Lukas finds the key in the mailbox and everybody can calm the FUCK DOWN and sit in the RV and SHUT THE FUCK UP and we’re driving to the start in Santa Monica and the closer we get and the more RV’s, runners and photographers we see the more excited we get, we start to think about our first leg: “Can I run as fast as I would like? Will I find the way and not get crushed by a car? Where is the fucking Gatorade???” We meet many of our BTG friends and Crews from last year, some run again, some had the wisdom to find another role this year.
Then everything goes really fast, just a few minutes until the start: “where is Lucas???”-“He’s there CALM DOWN”-“ALRIGHT!!” It’s dark, full of people, everybody`s shouting, most dressed all black so one moment you think you’re in Berghain but then you hear a shoot and everybody’s just screaming and running and you know TSP just fuckin’ started. Lukas switched from driving the RV last year to driving the whole Team with motivation this year. After a hard time due to the death of his father the race was his chance to canalize emotions and how he did that. First 10k leg with Lukas and Paul up front we basically flew out of LA and from RV traffic jams.
And then we’re standing in the blistering heat of California waiting for Pierre. Not really sure if he’s alright since he had problems with his hamstrings and we weren’t sure if he could run until the beginning of the race. So we’re standing there Noah all pumped and shit and we’re as well pumped and scared and then we finally see Pierre coming out of the tunnel and we’re all relieved and happy screaming his name and sending Noah with some good vibes on his way.
And how is it to run? You’ve to imagine you’re basically exhausted all the time but then you’re cheering for the others, eat, drink or chat and at one point you’re just dead und fall asleep but then Marco wakes you up in the middle of the night. You’ve to run and you’re like “fuck, didn’t I just run?”. Then you go out in the desert pee/take a shit, drink five red bull and you still feel like shit, but than you’re all geared up, waiting for your buddy to come out of the dark to give you the clap to go. He’s coming closer and closer and you’re like “Fuck, this guy is fast, how can I possibly hold this pace” and your whole crew is around you, screaming, shouting, clapping and you start to run. You look at your watch and you’re at 3,30 m/km. Knowing you wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for the whole race, you’re relaxing a little and then, depending on the point of the race, you’re feeling your sour legs again, see the endless road and you’re recognizing you’re on your own. But you keep on pushing through the pain cause you know your friends are counting on you, you know about all the time and energy that went into your preparation and then you can see the RV and you push and push and push, CLAP. Man down.
And that circle of absolute exhaustion, exuberant euphoria and often just complete emptiness continues through two nights and one day and then we’re through Death Valley and you’d think the worst is over but than there is this insane climb and of course I’ll get a nice big piece of it and close before you recognize this shit is never gonna end and you wanna give up and go home, shower and sleep. THEN there’s the peak and you’re seeing the valley of Sierra Nevada laying to your feeds, the long-awaited buildings of Las Vegas on the horizon. That’s when the game is starting to change: you can’t wait for your next leg anymore, you just wanna run. Run all the way into the valley, stop in front of the waiting people at the Vegas Sign and scream until your lungs collapse and all the cold beer slid down your throat.
We’re at the Vegas Sign. Screaming, dancing, holding our dear friends in our arms. The floor is soaked with beer and Champaign. One part slightly burned from bengalos. Cameras, wedding couples, tourists and Elvis everywhere. The towers and lights and noise of the city around us. The pain, the struggle and exhaustion behind us. In this moment that all doesn’t matter. It’s just us, we’re alive. We did it. Another time.