By Devon Sibole
Regardless of the official times, if a team races in the 80+age group of the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run, they always win everyone’s respect. Last night, I had the honor of meeting a group of women that I will forever revere with the highest of admiration. And, quite clearly, there is a reason that race Director Aaron McConnell is getting international calls for status updates from their friends in Germany; with a combined age of 257, Team Millipede and Team Ducktail of Muenster, Germany, may just be some of the most extraordinary athletes in this testing Colorado terrain.
Julia Suwelack, Helga Landfried Teodoruk, Hildegard Durynek and Almuth Hecking took up running at an age that most women start to consider retirement. Hailing from a one of Germany’s better-known running clubs, LSF Muenster, these fleet-footed femmes turned their golden years into almost two decades of racing, traveling, pushing themselves to extremes and, as of late, trekking between high altitude tent villages with hundreds of like-minded running zealots.
In 2006, Team Millipede took on the TransAlpine Run. After recruiting a fellow team for the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run, Teams Millipede and Ducktail also looked for specialized preparation. This focused mountain training came from German running legend Birgit Lennartz. Lennartz, an established world champion, created training manuals specific for each of the women detailing every factor from plyometrics to nutrition. The extra training certainly worked, although it’s arguable that these teams could subsist on vigor alone. “We can’t stop running.” Said 73-year old Durynek. To be honest, since they began their running journey, I doubt they have ever tried to stop.
Team Millipede (named aptly for the hopes of quickly moving feet) and Team Ducktail (named not for the waddle, but more for their suspected positioning of the running pack) were quick to smile when I asked them about their Rocky Mountain experience. For a few, it was also their first North American experience. “This is a place of untouched beauty,” said runner Landfried Teodouruk, adding “these mountains and trails are unpolluted. To be in nature like this is overwhelmingly magnificent.” With a nod, Suwelack added “Each day is the most beautiful day. Each day is my favorite day.”
Today, all 257 years of Teams Millipede and Team Ducktail will take on the final leg and the last day of the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. To both teams: may you never be able to stop running!