#101 – Run the Tarawera ultramarathon

Just when I thought that my bucket list was complete with exactly 100 items on it, I ran across something so beautiful I couldn’t not add it to the list… While browsing Twitter last week I came across the Tarawera ultramarathon, a yearly trail race that runs through the beautiful area around the New Zealand town of Rotorua.

Now, there are a couple of challenges I have to overcome before I can even attempt to run this one (even if I ‘only’ run the 50k)..

First of all, it’s in New Zealand. That’s about as far away from where I live as you can get on this planet.

Second of all, it’s 50k. Or 100k. Or even 100 miles. That’s a daunting distance, especially for someone who’s only recently got back into running and who can sort of manage to run 15k now.

But when I saw this promotional video, I was sold.

I’ve been to New Zealand and even to Rotorua before (back in 2005) and I would absolutely love to go back again, and why not for this race? As I said, it’s a big challenge, but that makes it all the more worthwhile…

Tarawera ultramarathon

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Country #9: Belgium

In some ways, it’s a miracle that I’m only now able to add Belgium to the list of countries in Europe I visited. I mean, it’s just over an hour away, I’ve been there so many times already I don’t even remember, and it’s much easier to tick off then, say, Romania or Lithuania, both of which I’ve crossed off the list before Belgium.

But, finally, I’m able to add our neighbours to the south to the list. We spent a nice and relaxing week in a cottage just across the border close to Maastrict. Family time, swimming, spending NYE abroad and some long overdue running made the time fly by.

Until next time, Belgium. I’m sure there will be many more visits.

Flag and map of Belgium

Looking back on 2018 and looking forward to 2019

It’s that time of the year again. 2018 has flown by! Time to take a quick look at how I’ve done with my goals for 2018, and what I’ll be focusing on in the coming year.

#100 – Visit at least three new countries in Europe
I’m glad to say I’ve made this goal! Only just, because the visit to Belgium is scheduled for just after Christmas, but I’ve made it nonetheless. The other ‘new’ (I’ve visited them before I started this list, but that doesn’t count) countries I visited this year were Austria and Luxembourg.

#73 – Pay off 20k of our mortgage
We also managed to put a significant dent into our mortgage this year. With another 20k paid off, our house is really ours just a little bit more. There’s more than enough to go, but I’m happy with the progress.

#33 – Run at least one half marathon
Unfortunately, once more, the fitness goal for this year has not been achieved. I am on the right way, though, so not all is lost, but there’s definitely work to do in this department next year. More about that later.

I’ve managed to complete one other item on my bucket list this year: I’ve slept a night under the stars.

All in all, not a bad year, but there’s definitely room for improvement. So, what am I going to aim for next year?

#100 – Visit at least three new countries in Europe
Once more, I would like to add three new countries to the list of countries in Europe I visited. This is getting progressively difficult, but on the other hand, there are still quite a few relatively easy ones out there (think France, Italy, Portugal, Denmark) and others that I might pay a visit for work-related stuff (Poland?). In any case, I’d like to scratch my travel itch next year at least as much as I did this year.

#73 – Pay off 20k of our mortgage
The same as last year, as well. Paying off our mortgage as fast as possible, without sacrificing too much comfort in our day to day living, is a priority in our household and I’d like to commit to paying off another 20k in 2019 as well. Given that there are no really big expenses planned, this should not be impossible.

And about that fitness goal…

#71 – Run a marathon
Yes. It’s time. Time to commit, to train, to really stick to running for a change and to run a marathon before the end of 2019. This is going to be hard, really hard, but I’m going to do it. I’ve even already picked the actual marathon I’d like to run. It’s in early November, which gives me plenty of time to train for it. It’s going to take some lifestyle changes, but I’m committed to making those. I’m stoked. And scared.

And of course, if the opportunity arises, I’d love to tick off another couple of items on my list as well, but the three above will be the main goals for 2019. Bring it on!

#26b – Drive a Donkervoort

This item replaces the original #26 – Visit Jordan.

As you maybe can tell from some of the other items on my list, I am a bit of a car aficionado. Unfortunately, my home country does not have a really great history when it comes to cars, with a notable exception: the Donkervoort brand. These are small, 2-seater sports car which, from what I’ve heard, are really, really fun to drive.

I’d love to experience that myself one day. I probably won’t buy one, as they aren’t particularly cheap, but I’m sure there are other ways to experience this car.

A Donkervoort D8 GTO

Owning our house a little more

One of the goals I set myself for this year was to pay off at least 20K of our current mortgage.

Even though we’ve had quite a few other expensive purchases (new car, holidays) I am extremely glad to be able to say that we did it. Yesterday, I transferred 20K from our bank account to the bank, and as soon as it is processed (should be done in a couple of days), we officially are the owners of our house a little more.

There’s still a long way to go before we have completely gotten rid of our mortgage, but this is definitely a step in the right direction!

Country #8: Luxembourg

I’ve just returned from a wonderful three week long holiday in the Eifel region in Germany. That in itself is nice, but not something worthy of a mention here. What is noteworthy, though, is that we made a quick day trip to do some sightseeing activities in Luxembourg during our holiday. And Luxembourg was not yet ticked off on my list of visited countries in Europe. So now it is!

I’ve been to Luxembourg a couple of times before (before I started this item), and I really love the country. It’s small, relatively close to home, yet the nature and the landscape is really different from what I’m used to. I’ll likely be visiting the country a couple more times in the future, but I can cross it off the to-do list now!

The Luxembourg flag

A night under the stars

When I added the plan to spend at least one night sleeping under the stars to my bucket list, I imagined I would do this on a holiday, possibly in a remote destination, somewhere close to the beach or maybe in the mountains.

I had no idea that I would do it at home, in my back yard.

Still, because of the heat of the last couple of days here and the accumulated humidity that unfortunately comes with it in the Netherlands, I thought last night was a perfect opportunity to, well, sleep under the stars. I took a blanket and a pillow outside and lay down on our garden couch. After getting used to the sounds (most of them you don’t hear throughout the day), and some star- and airplane gazing, I spent a short but wonderful, fresh, oxygen-laden, night under the stars.

I’ll definitely do this more often in the future. Maybe, some day, in that remote location I envisioned back then. But then again, maybe in my own back yard…

Sleeping under the stars

(By the way, that picture definitely was not taken in my back yard. I wish…)