©Nicki Lange

©Nicki Lange

I was exhausted. I was sad. Could I have gone further? Should I have continued? A couple of hours before, I had decided to drop out, or DNF - Did Not Finish - as they call it in runners jargon, the Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc. After I had visited the hospital for check-up and sort of collected my thoughts, I went for lunch with my dad. He said: ”Nicki, you have made the right decision.”

We were sitting at a table and discussed the race. It was my dad alongside my coach, who had trekked with me for the last 10 kilometres of UTMB 2018 and had seen me hit rock bottom. I had arrived in Champex after I had noticed the first signs of hallucination caused by my immense exhaustion and sleep depreviation. My dad and coach suggested to stop the race, but I decided to continue. I had made the decision, instead of them making the decision for me. The next couple of hours on our way to La Giete I barely remember. I recall that I was unable to walk, stumbling up the hill and my hallucination worsened. I saw hotels to sleep, suggested to take one of the taxis along the path, as well as wondered why I had to be there thinking that I had already qualified for UTMB. It surely was not a nice experience for my dad to see me in this condition, but it was the result of a decision that I had made.

When the sun started to rise, I started to reagin my consciousness and we arrived at La Giete. The moment I stepped into the checkpoint, I told the UTMB staff that I want to drop out. I decided that I was not going to finish the race. I had been waiting for this moment for more than three years. I had been training, running and competing relentlessly, in order to qualify for UTMB, but the decision of dropping out meant that I was not going to achieve my goal.

After we finished our starter, my dad handed me a letter, which read the folllowing:

“[…] always say what you think and act in accordance with your inner self. People learn to differentiate themselves and make decisions accordingly. Decide what is important to you, create your own life path and leave a mark on this planet. Only a few people have the energy and vision, as well as the desire to take action and make their dreams a reality.

Sir Edmund Hillary is one of the greatest role models of our time. He decided that he wanted to be the first person to ever ascend Mount Everest. He did not get distracted by the many that have tried and failed before. He had a vision and worked relentlessly hard to achieve his goal. Besides, he valued the importance of team work, which was necessary to reach the summit. He followed his path and conquered Mount Everest on 25. May 1953 together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Decisions are important, as life does not offer you all too many alternatives. Big ones and smaller ones, important and less important ones. A decision is a decision. Make sure to take your learnings and freshly gained confidence for future decisions. Whether they turn out right or wrong, if you believe in yourself and remain in control and you will preserve.[…]”

Our daily life is composed of decisions, some are easier than others, some come at a higher opportunity costs than others, and some take little time, while others will take you days until you are able to make the final call. Nevertheless, always ensure that you are the one to make the decision for yourself. I decided to continue the race and ended up paying the bill for such. Though my dad was obviously slightly shocked to see me in this states, but he argued that he was glad that he let me take that decision, instead of deciding for me. He argued that if he would have decided for me to stop the race, I would have probably questioned him, “why” and “if I would have continued, I could have made it to finish line”. Allowing me to make that call, meant that I was fully responsible for the outcome, and I urge you to ensure that you always try to be the person to make that decision, and not wait until it is too late, or somebody has to take that decision for you.

A decision is black and white. Yes, there might be a grey area in the middle, when you have to find a fair ground between many parties, which can be called a compromise. Nevertheless, there is a “yes” and “no”. Whatever decision you take, you shall commit to it, stick to it and follow it through. And yes, amendments along the way are part of the game, but ideally should not delay the process all too much. Depending on the ‘size’ and ‘relevance’ of your decision, it requires dedication, patience, perseverance and sacrifice. A decision in itself is a success, however the outcome may not always turn out in the way that you have initially hoped for. Every decision will have a cause and effect.

Back to the lunch table. I was pretty moved by dad’s words. He has been guiding and supporting me throughout my life, whether on the hockey pitch, careerwise or life in general. I was finishing my second portion of truffle pasta (which is by far my favorite dish) and dad was sharing his life experiences and some of the tough decisions that he had made. To be honest, I did not comprehend all of his points at that time. In fact, it has taken me a number of months to digest and realise the message that he was sharing with me. Later, I figured that his words and the life lesson behind decision making also coincide with my belief that things happen for a reason. “Maktub”, which means “it is written” in Arabic, is one of my favorite words. I first came across “Maktub” and its meaning in Paulo Coehlo’s “Alchemist”. After all, I truely believe that having faith in the decision you make and the belief that whatever direction you decide to take, it will eventually all make sense.

I decided to run Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc in 2019 again.

You can track me by clicking the button below and follow my bib number (Lange: 458).