How Hannes found friends around the world through VirtualRunners
Hello dear running community. Here is one of the VirtualRunners running ambassadors again. For those who don't know me yet: I'm Hannes, 44 years young, a native of North Frisia and have been living in Hamburg for 8 years. I am happily married and we (currently) have a dog and an aquarium of 240 liters. By profession I am a chef and dietician.
I started running at the end of 38. I wanted to run a marathon once in my life until my 40th birthday. Before that, I had a lot of respect for how I could do something like that. So I bought a training book and started with 125kg body weight at that time.
In April 2017, I successfully ran my first marathon in Hamburg. In 4.18h after all. It was an incredible feeling and my weight was now in double digits.
More marathons followed, such as Malta, Hamburg, Elbtunnelmarathon, Billhuder Insel, Berlin and the highlight NYC 2019. In Berlin 2019 I finished just under 4 hours for the first time. And a new ambition was awakened: to crack 3.50 h.
For 2020 I had planned a lot. The season opener should be again Malta end of February / beginning of March. A great time to stay in training in the winter.
The climate is pleasant with 17 - 22 degrees, flights and hotels are relatively cheap, great culture and cuisine and the arrival time is manageable. In March 2020, I ran the last official marathon in Europe on Malta. Then came the pandemic.
I was totally sad, had trained so much and invested time for my 2020 goals but all events were cancelled.
I started organizing my own running events, measuring routes, organizing VPS, creating medals and finding suitable running partners. Along the way I met great people and friendships developed. Still, I was missing the great community and competition that belong to such a running event.
Then I came across VirtualRunners and booked my whole marathon season there. The first one was the Paris Marathon in April 2020. The community and the exchange in the groups gave me back a lot of what I missed before. The national and international exchange from beginners to professionals is uniquely beautiful. In the meantime, I have run 17 marathons with VirtualRunners and have participated in over 70 events and challenges.
A dream of mine is to run the original marathon from Marathon to Athens. This dream should come true in 2021. In the VirtualRunners groups I was contacted by a runner from Athens and asked if I would like to meet him when I was there. I didn't know him personally until then and I am still overwhelmed by this warmth and hospitality.
Running connects the world peacefully! We are all united by a passion , no matter what origin , gender , time , religion , etc . This marathon is after our wedding the most emotional moment I was allowed to experience.
In 2022 we went to Malta again. Here I saw in the VirtualRunners group that two other VirtualRunners runners were also in Malta. We spontaneously arranged to meet and it was again so warm and nice to meet like-minded people that I would never have met without VirtualRunners. Now I have new friends in Greece and Switzerland.
And I know that many more friends around the world will be added soon. This network also made it possible for VirtualRunners to build a wide network for Ukraine Relief so quickly.
My tip for you: arrange to meet runners you meet in the groups when you are traveling. It is worth it! Maybe we will meet in person soon.
I am looking forward to the next event with you and hopefully I can support you in your training and your goals.