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Bergweh - the longing for mountains - missing wild nature after running the Westhighland Way solo.

I'm soaked. It's the only time I had such hard rain in the last five days. And that in Scotland! I pull my jacket tight over my head and use my running sticks to move faster. After 153km on trails, suddenly it's tarmac and I'm avoiding passing cars and splashing water. I overtake a few people that stopped to put on their raincoats. In front of me is quite a busy roundabout. I sprint towards it, as fast as my heavy backpack allows.

Solo female runner at the end of the Westhighland Way in Scotland

From the corner of my eyes I see a couple stopping to take a selfie. It's the end of the WestHighland way. Without them stopping I would have literally passed it. I had been warned, but the "finish" of this stunning and wild route is aptly put "an anti climax". As the couple takes my picture, I probably look happy, exhausted and relieved at the same time. Dreaming of a cider and fish and chips.

And suddenly, after 5 days and 4 nights running in the wild alone I am done. I am still in 'public' , staying in a hotel, with friends, being in trains, cafes, pubs and an airplane. There is a certain level of keeping it together. Just a short moment of tired tears of relief on the floor of my hotel in Fort Williams. It's short, cause I am too tired to cry.

Terrain of the Westhighland Way

Once home it could not be better. Amazing food. People that mean the world. But I do find myself sipping my "Loch Lomond Whiskey" and having a cry on the living room floor. In my language we have the beautiful word "Fernweh". The opposite of homesick. The longing of being away. Let me add "Bergweh" to it. The longing for mountains. For their rock-solid silence and the wildness all around them. For their ability to make me dream up adventures, whilst keeping me humble at the same time. For them making me curious, always wanting to know what you can see once you reach the summit.

Nature of the Westhighland Way

It's odd, when I went away I thought it might bother me to run for 5 days in one set of clothing. I could not bring more, as my bag was packed to the rim with food, my tent, cooker and other essentials. Absolutely zero space for comfort. Now I find myself back in the city, trying to pick an outfit for a warm late summer evening dinner. "Just dress the way you feel", I am telling myself. In all honesty, I would love to put on my black merino shirt and running shorts. Somewhere I miss the simplicity of it.

Female solo runner on the Westhighland Way

And then it's Monday. There is a scheduled morning. An ironed outfit. The legs still covered in midget bites as a sweet reminder. The feet are still sore in memory of this military road they ran. Around me it's full. A sunny city, a first September Monday, a school beginning, an office rush, a late tourist destination. Everywhere people and nowhere a mountain to hide. I know the state when missing nature mixes with exhaustion. It's the other side of the coin of running trail ultras. First you're proud and euphoric and then somewhat empty.

It helps to focus on the here and now. On the people that make the heart full. On the enjoyment of some comfort. On sunshine I can sit in, without being eaten by midges. And reminding myself of what I have achieved. Of the confidence this has given me. How it has allowed me in the last days to dream big. To consider running challenges that were beforehand just a dream. And to remember my commitment to not forget that wild women within me. I have just started to understand how to truly like her.


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