On 22nd July, I set off. I wanted to complete a triathlon around the borders of Germany, my home country, for the very first time: 31 days and the equivalent distance of 16 Ironmans.
I started from Lindau, a town on the eastern shore of Lake Constance, and swam 37 miles (60 km) through the lake. Next, I switched onto my bike and rode in a clockwise direction around Germany until I returned to Bavaria. I swapped my cycling shoes for my running trainers and finished the Tour with a run equivalent to 16 marathons.
As always, the trip was self-supported and I had all my equipment with me. My goal was to be quick on the road, but not as fast as I can be. I designed the trip as a warm-up and equipment test for my upcoming ‘Triathlon 360 degree’ – the first ever triathlon around the world.
On the way, I was accompanied by many friends and even complete strangers, which was a big motivation for me. In this Collection, I tell the story of my triathlon around Germany and take you along for part of the journey.
Let's go: at 1 p.m. I start from the island of Lindau!A few local media and a kayak accompanied me for the first few kilometers of swimming. I have a slight headwind and current, but I'm making good progress. After four kilometers I swim ashore at a small bathing place and eat something. In the water I eat a bar every 20 minutes, but that's not enough and one of the challenges of swimming.After a short thunderstorm, the lake becomes calm and calm. Perfect conditions and a beautiful sunset accompany me on the remaining kilometers. After another ten kilometers it is already getting dark and I'm looking for a place to sleep on the bank when suddenly someone appears next to me and invites me to sleep at their home.
Perfect conditions in the morning without waves and wind.I'm making very good progress and after seven kilometers I'm taking my first break. The only difficulty was crossing a large marina. Only after a few minutes there was a larger gap through which I had to swim quickly.After the break, the water became very shallow. I swim far out, but still I keep touching the ground with my hands. Despite sun protection factor 50, my neck is already totally burned.The last kilometers to Friedrichshafen are long and I'm running out of food. After 15 kilometers I reach the city and get out of the water in front of the large harbor. I have to walk around because of the many ships of the line.I find a supermarket right at the port and buy my groceries for the next day. With a wetsuit and a raft, I attract a few curious looks. I treat myself to a pizza and look for a park to set up my bivouac.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
After a restless night in the park, I walk around the large ferry terminal in Friedrichshafen and go into the water at the quay wall. Suddenly two waiters come and ask if I can get two chairs out of the lake for you. They apparently threw drunk people over the railing last night. As a reward, I'm invited to coffee and croissants and I'll start a little later.The first five kilometers go well, until suddenly there is a strong wind from the front and waves. The raft keeps pulling me backwards and I can hardly make any headway. After a break, I continue swimming in the afternoon, but only very slowly.After ten kilometers I reach a beautiful island and spend the night there. I could have continued swimming a little longer, but then I might not have found a place to sleep in town.Realization of the day: The headwind is much stronger in the water than on a bike, so I prefer to leave earlier tomorrow.
I start before 7 a.m. to escape the wind and be able to swim at least the first few kilometers without problems.In Habnau I can't avoid going ashore when a stand-up paddler comes up to me: He's a reader of the triathlon magazine and he's got some sweet treats! Shortly afterwards a cyclist appears with coffee and pretzels, so that the break is a little longer.Four kilometers later I reach Meersburg and circle the harbor. Then there is a tailwind and I make rapid progress. I now have several open wounds from sunburn and an old bicycle injury. I absolutely have to avoid something like that for the big triathlon around the world.
In the evening the lake calms down and I pass the island of Mainau to avoid the strong headwind tomorrow. There are now 20 kilometers and only 15 to Bodman. I'm looking forward to my bike.
I start at 7 a.m. in the rain and make good progress. The wind forecast shows a strong headwind from noon, so I prefer to swim a little faster. The first nine kilometers go well, always along the lonely and spectacular south coast.At noon the wind and the waves come and I hardly make any headway. The last kilometers to Bodman are extremely tough with nasty currents and strong winds.
In Bodman I get out of the water and onto my bike. My father and some cyclists are already waiting and accompanying me for the first 35 kilometers to help me warm up.I am happy to be with my favorite discipline and that my body can recover a little. The swim was a very good test for the big triathlon in September and I'm going to make some adjustments. But the most important thing is that if you can swim 70 kilometers, you can swim 460 kilometers, it just takes a little longer.
Finally back on the bike!After a good breakfast, I always start at 8 a.m. along the Swiss border. On mostly small, quiet paths it goes hilly to Basel and then flat through the Rhine Valley. It gets very hot at lunchtime and I take an ice cream break. I enjoy every moment and notice how my body slowly recovers from the stress of swimming.After 254 kilometers I treat myself to a pizza and look for a place to sleep. I'm looking forward to the next few days on the bike.
A great day on the bike. I had a lot of company, several people joined my tour on some sections of the route. In the morning a nice climb through the Palatinate Forest was waiting for me, in the afternoon a strong headwind accompanied me on the journey through the Saarland. We are now approaching Trier early in the morning.
Today was a climbing stage through the Eifel with 250 kilometers and 3300 meters of altitude on the plan.I drove through beautiful hills along the Luxembourg and Belgian borders and was happy to be accompanied by Ralf, who was there most of the day. In the evening the Ryzon crew and other cyclists joined us and we ended the day in a beer garden in Aachen. 👌Now the flat part of Germany begins, and I am already driving north along the Dutch border with Patrick Engel.
Another long day in the saddle: my Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam shows 275 kilometers 💪.The route was pretty flat along the Dutch border and I enjoyed a lot of company. Patrick joined for the first half and another group joined in for a delicious Chinese all you can eat buffet All.I drove into the night, motivated by an invitation to a barbecue and beer in Wietmarchen 😅. This triathlon is evolving into a beer tasting with great local beers 🍻.I have now reached Lower Saxony and will be crossing the Elbe to Schleswig-Holstein tonight 💪.
A super flat day with only around 200 meters of altitude through Friesland. Most of the time, I drove down beautiful and empty streets and enjoyed some good company. But as a climber, I definitely missed the hills.I now have dinner and then look for a nice place to sleep on the Elbe, because I missed the last ferry to Glückstadt. Tomorrow morning I will take the first one and continue my tour through Schleswig-Holstein with lunch in Flensburg and probably dinner in Kiel.
A long day in Schleswig-Holstein 💪! In the early morning I took the ferry across the Elbe. With a lot of company, we went north on small roads with little traffic towards Denmark.At lunchtime I was happy about halfway through the cycling distance of my triathlon around Germany. Also cool: a strong tail wind all morning.In the evening two cyclists from Kiel joined them and I accepted the invitation to dinner after 260 kilometers 😋. The next step is from Kiel along the Baltic Sea to the Polish border.
A really beautiful, but also long day, took me through Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania today. 💪I left Kiel in the early morning and followed closely the Baltic Sea coast, where some really nice views were waiting for me. In addition, I could look forward to great company again. But beyond that, I met few people: only long, empty streets and lots of nature - one of my favorite stages so far!Before I go looking for a bivouac, I have a quick pizza - tomorrow morning I continue along the Polish border.
A real high-speed stage along the Polish border: flat roads and a tail wind all day - that went well forward. Despite the many cobblestone sections in the morning that shook me and the bike a lot ...Today my 30 mm Schwalbe (ProOne) tires could finally prove themselves. High comfort and no breakdowns, that's exactly what I had installed them for. 😅👌The nature here is beautiful and the area is only sparsely populated. In Frankfurt / Oder, I take a break after more than 300 kilometers. I'm approaching Saxony and the Ore Mountains and thus a climbing party - I'm looking forward to it!
A flat stage along the Polish border. In the evening I reached Zittau and thus the mountains along the Czech border. Now I turn west into the Ore Mountains. The queen stage with over 4,000 meters of altitude is waiting for me. After the flat days in the far north, I'm really looking forward to it.
The royal stage through the Ore Mountains! 😍After the past flat days, I was looking forward to the change and some nice, steep climbs. In the mornings and afternoons I also had great company and made a short stop in Bad Schandau for a TV interview on MDR. A very varied day!Now in Bavaria I'm on my way to the last change: into my running shoes. 💪
Right at the beginning, a demanding stage with many climbs through the Vogtland was waiting for me today.At around 10 a.m. I reach Bavaria, the last state on my trip through Germany. A television team is waiting for me at the border and follows me for a while. It continues through the hills and gets very hot. It gets even more exhausting because I'm rushing so that I can meet a friend for dinner.In the evening there is more to climb and after 230 kilometers and 3,500 meters in altitude I end up in a pizzeria, where I meet Gerhard in time, who is organizing a race in Bavaria. Later I drive out of town in the dark and sleep behind a small hut. 50 kilometers to go on the bike!
Early in the morning at 6 a.m. we continue: the last 50 kilometers on the bike! However, these were demanding with two long climbs and over 1,000 meters in altitude.At 9:30 a.m. I arrive at the Radsport Leitl cycling shop in Zwiesel, where I sent my running gear. I am welcomed in a very friendly manner by the team and a few journalists. It takes a while for me to get changed and for lunch in the store to strengthen myself. Then it goes on - from now on in running shoes.
At the beginning I run rather slowly because my muscles first had to switch from cycling to running. After the first 15 kilometers, I feel a lot better. Nevertheless, I first take some quiet hiking sections up to the Great Rachel at 1,400 meters (and then downhill again) so as not to injure myself on the stony path with its dense vegetation. When it gets dark, I find a nice place to sleep between the trees. From tomorrow it will be: one marathon a day!
After a quiet night under beautiful stars, I leave at 7 a.m. The path runs right along the border with Chechnya and offers some beautiful views. I pass the Lusen, one of the highest mountains in the area, and then descend into the village of Mauth.Unfortunately the supermarket, the bakery and all other shops have long been closed and I am struggling to find something to eat. I still run, but I get really hungry in the afternoon. Before sunset I therefore decide to make a detour to a small village, where fortunately I can still find a restaurant.After dinner I sleep a few hundred meters further in the forest. Today I have covered 45 kilometers and slowly picking up speed.
Today I was able to add a few more kilometers: it was 51 in the end, even though I really didn't eat enough.The morning started with a seven-kilometer run to Dreisessel. From there I followed the Austrian border in hilly terrain and am now on the outskirts of Passau. As my body gets used to running, I feel strong and motivated to increase the distance a bit all day.Just the thing with the food ...: It's just not enough. I had dry bread with water for breakfast, cake, cola and pizza for lunch, and a few cookies in the afternoon. When I get to a restaurant in the evening, the kitchen is already closed. So, completely starved, I lie in my sleeping bag in a cozy place in the forest.A really nice weekend is over and the supermarkets are open again. Fortunately, because with my ultra-light setup, I just can't take more than half a daily ration of provisions with me.Oh yes: The last kilometers are missing from the tour recording because the battery of my cell phone was empty.
Another day of more than 50 kilometers! I make good progress along the Inn. After 15 hilly days I reach Passau and follow the river from there. Another 200 flat kilometers to Berchtesgaden and the Alps.Today some runners and triathletes kept me company and really motivated me on the flat stretch along the river. Oh, and there was food - plenty of it! I feel strong and look forward to maintaining the pace over the next flat days.
Another 50 km along the Inn and lots of company!Triathlete Karl came to me for a short time last night and promised me a great meal in his restaurant, which is around 26 kilometers from where I sleep. So I had a nice goal for the morning.I had a few problems with my left foot along the way, but luckily it wasn't too bad. After a delicious and, above all, large lunch and some rest, I set off with Karl and some of his friends when it is no longer so hot. After 50 kilometers I find a pizzeria and not far away a nice hut where I spend the night.
Today was another long day that took me 43 kilometers
led along the Austrian border.When I left I struggled a little with my left foot again, but luckily in the afternoon it got better. I follow the Salzach all day long with a beautiful but monotonous landscape. In the evening there is still some company, but of the undesirable kind: Thousands of mosquitoes visit me. I don't even want to stop to get food out of my backpack. I spent half an hour looking for a place to sleep with a little fewer mosquitoes, but still hardly slept because they were bustling around me all night.I am now approaching the Alps and am looking forward to a change from the monotonous river.
I'm really tired this morning. The mosquitoes are to blame for this. In addition, my sleeping bag is really wet from condensation. That was definitely the worst place to sleep so far.Shortly after the start, I am accompanied by triathlete Cindy, who runs with me most of the morning. After 28 kilometers I take a long lunch break and then walk the last stretch to Bad Reichenhall.In the evening it rains heavily and I'm worried about my sleeping place. Fortunately, after 43 kilometers I find a wooden hut next to a small river. A real luxury.