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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Do you NEED to wear trail-running clothes for your off-road runs?

running occ chamonix holly zimmermann ultramarathon
Somewhere over Chamonix, France

Of course not, you can certainly wear any old running gear for your trail runs, but clothing designed specifically for trail running may provide benefits you never knew you were missing. Specific design features, plus cuts and fabrics catered to trail running, can make your experience off-road more comfortable than ever.

But first you need to consider what your needs are. Do you run where it is hot and humid? Then light, quick-drying mesh fabrics may be best. Are you out with a backpack for hours or days? Then multi-functional gear that packs down small would be a priority.

Here’s some tips what to look for:

Pockets – pockets are a trail-worthy upgrade that allow you to stow things with easy accessibility from snacks to sunscreen, lip balm and, of course, trash. A designated pocket for trash that can be emptied at the next aid station is a smart idea as dropping a gel packet on the trail is not only an environmental concern but it can also come along with a fine or ejection from the race. Look for a combination of open and zip pockets for optimal carrying.

Straps and skin coverage – if you are wearing a hydration pack on a hot day then be sure the straps on your tank are plenty wide to avoid chafing. When wearing a backpack for the long haul, even in the heat, it may be advisable to wear a top with a rounded collar, which protects your neck and shoulders from not only chafing, but also from the sun. If wearing shorts make sure they stay put on the inner thighs and don’t ride up.

Mesh – perforated materials allow for better breathability which is especially beneficial on your back when wearing a backpack.

Taped Seams – taped seams provide extra protection from the elements by adding an extra touch of waterproofing.

Packability – When choosing a wind- or waterproofing layer, consider the tradeoffs between waterproofness and packability.

And what about trail running shoes? Unlike road running where you keep to a straight line on an even surface for miles, on the trails you encounter switchbacks, rocks, mud, slopes, puddles, streams, roots and more. So your shoes not only need to be more rugged on the soles, with more traction and a bit thicker, having midsoles that are firmer to provide support and stability on softer surfaces (think carbon plating), but also the shoe upper needs to be more robust. Since you may be running through underbrush, climbing over rocks or fallen trees, the fabric should be sturdy and protective, not thin or mesh-like which can be prone to tearing.

Finally, if you’ve got all these aspects of functionality covered, then the only thing left to consider is, ‘Do the clothes make you feel good/look good/run fast?’

And if the ASICS logo is on your gear, then you know you’ve got all the boxes checked.  All the photos in this post are from the ASICS Trail Collection 2023 and they were the inspiration for this article because they really do check all the boxes for comfort, fit and functionality. The clothing is perfect attire for a summer mountain race, with a mesh back on the shirt which keeps me cool under the backpack. The high collar on the shirt as well as the inner layer ‘tights’ on the shorts gave chafing no chance. There are zip and slot pockets on the shorts. The material is lightweight and breathable. But do they make me feel/look good and run fast? Well, I finished the race over 2 hours faster than planned and yea, I think I look pretty good in them too. ;)

occ chamonix utmb running ultramarathon holly zimmermann everest


'Das perfekte Dinner' Nachspeise: Süße Reise durch Amerika

Nachspeise bei Das perfekte Dinner: Holly in Regensburg

 Süße Reise durch Amerika: Schokoladen-Brownie mit geröstetem Kokosnusscreme-Frosting, Chocolate-chip cookies, Erdbeer-Cobbler

Schokoladen-Brownie mit geröstetem Kokosnusscreme-Frosting (Holly’s Favorite Brownies)

Zutaten für die Brownies:

- 225 g halbsüße Schokolade

- 225 g Butter

- 5 Eier

- 750 g Zucker (für eine weniger süße und kuchige Konsistenz die Menge halbieren)

- 1 EL Vanilleextrakt

- 360 g Mehl

- ½ TL Salz

- 112 g halbsüße Schokolade, in "Stückchen" gebrochen


Anleitung für die Brownies:

Den Ofen auf 200 °C vorheizen. Eine Brownie-Form von etwa 20 cm x 30 cm (plus/minus) mit Butter einfetten. 225 g Schokolade und Butter über einem Wasserbad schmelzen, beiseite stellen. Eier und Zucker etwa 10 Minuten lang auf hoher Stufe verrühren. Die Mixer-Geschwindigkeit reduzieren und die geschmolzene Butter-Schokoladen-Mischung sowie Vanilleextrakt hinzufügen. Mehl und Salz dazugeben und nur so lange rühren, bis sie sich vermengt haben. Anschließend die "Stückchen" unterheben. Je nach Ofeneinstellung 25-40 Minuten backen. Mit einem Zahnstocher überprüfen, ob er sauber herauskommt. Aus dem Ofen nehmen und vor dem Bestreichen abkühlen lassen.


Zutaten für das Frosting:

- 50 g ungesüßtes Kokosraspeln

holly zimmermann running ultramarathon everest perfekte dinner- 3 Eiweiß

- 350 g Zucker (kann auf 200 g reduziert werden, aber nicht weniger, da das Frosting dann nicht aufgeht)

- 5 EL kaltes Wasser

- ¼ TL Weinsteinpulver

- 1 TL Vanilleextrakt


Den Ofen auf 150 °C vorheizen, die Kokosraspeln auf einem Backblech verteilen und gelegentlich schütteln, bis sie goldbraun sind. Beiseite stellen und abkühlen lassen.

Eiweiß, Zucker, Wasser und Weinsteinpulver in einem Wasserbad geben und mit einem Mixer oder Schneebesen 7 Minuten lang schlagen. Vom Herd nehmen, Vanilleextrakt hinzufügen und weiter schlagen, bis die Mischung luftig und glänzend ist (dauert eine Weile). Das Frosting über die Brownies gießen und gleichmäßig verteilen. Die gerösteten Kokosraspeln über das Frosting streuen und leicht andrücken. In 5x10 cm große Quadrate schneiden.




500 g frische reife Erdbeeren, entstielt und gewürfelt

100 g Zucker


Cobbler Teig

120 g Mehl

2 TL Backpulver

½ TL Meersalz

100 g Zucker

230 ml Milch, warm (ich habe Hafermilch verwendet)

½ TL Vanilleextrakt

8 EL ungesalzene Butter, geschmolzen



Den Ofen auf 190 °C vorheizen. Eine 1,8-Liter-Auflaufform einfetten und beiseite stellen. In einer mittelgroßen Schüssel Erdbeeren und Zucker hinzufügen und umrühren, bis es sirupartig ist. Beiseite stellen. In einer großen Schüssel Mehl, Backpulver, Salz und Zucker verquirlen. Milch, Vanilleextrakt und geschmolzene Butter hinzufügen. Sanft umrühren, nur bis alles kombiniert ist. (Einige Klumpen sind erwünscht, also nicht zu viel rühren, da der Teig sonst dicht statt luftig wird.) Den Teig gleichmäßig in die vorbereitete Form gießen. Mit einem geschlitzten Löffel die Erdbeeren gleichmäßig auf den Teig geben und dabei den überschüssigen Sirup in der Schüssel lassen. NICHT umrühren. Im vorgeheizten Ofen auf mittlerer Schiene 35-40 Minuten oder bis der Cobbler goldbraun ist backen. (Die Zeit kann je nach Größe der Backform variieren.) Aus dem Ofen nehmen und den Cobbler einige Minuten ruhen lassen. In eine Schüssel löffeln und nach Belieben mit Vanilleeis servieren.


American Chocolate Chip Cookies

280 g      Mehl

1 TL        Natron (Backsoda, 5 g) oder Backpulver

1 TL        Salz (6 g)

225 g      Butter, weiche

150 g      Zucker, weiß

165 g      Zucker, braun

1 TL        Vanilleextrakt (5 ml)

2 große Ei(er)

335 g      Schokoladenchips (Schokotropfen)

Den Ofen auf 180°C (Ober-/Unterhitze) vorheizen. Mehl, Backsoda oder Backpulver und Salz in einer Schüssel vermischen. In einer anderen großen Schüssel Butter, weißen und braunen Zucker und Vanilleextrakt schaumig rühren, die Eier nach und nach dazugeben, gründlich verrühren. Die Mehlmischung hinzufügen, verrühren. Nun die Schokoladentröpfchen unterrühren. Mit einem Teelöffel den Teig in Häufchen auf ein ungefettetes Backblech setzen. Für 9 - 11 Minuten goldbraun backen. Auf dem Backblech etwas auskühlen lassen, dann zum völligen Auskühlen auf ein Kuchengitter geben.

'Das perfekte Dinner' Hauptspeise: Gefüllte Portobellopilze über schwarze Quinoa mit cremiger Parmesan-Blumenkohlsauce und gegrillter grüner Spargel


holly regensburg zimmermann das perfekte dinner cooking running everest ultramarathon mom

Portobellopilze gefüllt mit Ricotta und Basilikum über Zitronen-infused schwarze Quinoa mit cremiger Parmesan-Blumenkohlsauce und gegrillter grüner Spargel ummandelt von roter Paprika

Zutaten für die Pilze:

- 5 große Portobello-Pilze

- 200 g frisches Basilikum

- 500 g Ricotta-Käse

- 1 kleine gelbe Zwiebel

- 2 Knoblauchzehen

- 25 g geriebener Gran Padana- oder Parmesan-Käse

- Salz und Pfeffer

- Olivenöl

- 30 ml trockener Weißwein

Zubereitung Pilze:

Die Zwiebel und den Knoblauch in Öl bei mittlerer Hitze 5-7 Minuten lang sautieren, bis die Zwiebeln glasig sind. Beiseite stellen und abkühlen lassen. Das Basilikum, den Ricotta, Salz und Pfeffer (nach Geschmack) sowie die Zwiebelmischung vermischen, bis eine cremige und glatte Masse entsteht. Die Stiele aus den Pilzen entfernen und die Lamellen herausschaben, um Platz für die Füllung zu schaffen. Die Pilzhälften von innen mit Olivenöl, Salz und Pfeffer bestreuen. Die Pilze mit der Sauce füllen und 20 Minuten bei 200 C lang backen. Anschließend den geriebenen Gran Padana- oder Parmesan-Käse darüberstreuen und weitere 10 Minuten backen.

holly zimmermann instagram regensburg das pefekte dinner running everest 

Zutaten für die Parmesan-Blumenkohlsauce:

80 g gehackte Zwiebeln

2 Knoblauchzehen

400 g gehackter Blumenkohl

475 ml ungesüßte Hafer-, oder Mandelmilch

240 ml Gemüsebrühe

1⁄4 TL  gemahlene Muskatnuss

30 g geriebener Parmesankäse (33 g)

2 EL Olivenöl

1⁄2 TL Pfeffer

Salz nach Geschmack

Zubereitung Parmesan-Blumenkohlsauce:

Eine Pfanne bei mittlerer Hitze vorheizen. Die Zwiebeln und Knoblauch hinzufügen. 5-6 Minuten sautieren, bis sie weich und leicht gebräunt sind. Den Blumenkohl hinzufügen und umrühren, um alles zu kombinieren. Milch, Brühe und Muskatnuss hinzufügen und umrühren. Abdecken. Die Hitze reduzieren und 10 Minuten lang köcheln lassen. Bei Bedarf Wasser oder trockenen Weißwein hinzufügen, um die Flüssigkeit flüssiger zu machen. Den Blumenkohl mit einem Kartoffelstampfer reduzieren dann mit einem Stabmixer pürieren oder in einen Mixer geben, bis die Mischung glatt und cremig ist. Den geriebenen Parmesankäse, Olivenöl, Pfeffer und Salz nach Geschmack hinzufügen. Umrühren, um alles zu kombinieren.


300 g schwarze Quinoa nach den Anweisungen auf der Verpackung kochen.


Gegrillter grüner Spargel ummandelt von roter Paprika

1000 g grüner Spargel

2 Spitzpaprika


holly zimmermann das perfekte dinner reality cooking
Plate prep

Salz Pfeffer


Den Spargel gleichmäßig abschneiden und in eine Schüssel geben. Die Paprika in etwa 4-5 cm breite Ringe schneiden und zur Schüssel mit dem Spargel hinzufügen. Die Gemüsestücke mit Olivenöl beträufeln und mit Salz und Pfeffer nach Geschmack würzen. Vorsichtig mischen. Den Grill vorheizen und den Spargel und die Paprika etwa 7 Minuten grillen, dabei gelegentlich wenden, damit sie gleichmäßig garen und Grillstreifen auf dem Gemüse entstehen. Vom Grill nehmen und (mit Kochhandschuhen) 5-7 Spargelstangen (oder so viele, wie die Paprikaringe festhalten können) in die Paprikaringe stecken (ähnlich einem Serviettenhalter).


Die Zubereitung des Tellers:

Den Quinoa auf den Teller geben und eine kleine Vertiefung formen, in die sich die Blumenkohlsauce sammeln kann. Den Portobello-Pilz über den schwarzen Quinoa am Rand der Sauce platzieren. Mit einem Spargel-Paprika-Ring servieren. Mit einer Zitronenscheibe garnieren.

'Das perfekte Dinner' Vorspeise: Mediterrane Mini-Quiche mit Erfrischendes Gemüseensemble

holly zimmermann running everest perfekte dinner regensburg
 Mediterrane Mini-Quiche mit Erfrischendes Gemüseensemble

Erfrischendes Gemüseensemble mit Brokkoli, sonnengetrockneten Tomaten, gerösteten Sonnenblumenkernen und Sesam-Soja-DressingZutaten für den Salat für 5 Personen:

125 g Babyspinat

1 Bund  (~ 300 g) Stangen-Brokkoli

50 g getrocknete Tomatenstreifen

60 g Curry-Sonnenblumenkerne (siehe separates Rezept unten)

Sesam-Soja-Dressing (siehe separates Rezept unten)   




60 g Sonnenblumenkerne

1 TL Currypulver

2 EL Olivenöl

1 TL Agavendicksaft

¼ TL Cayennepfeffer

½ TL Salz

½ TL schwarzer Pfeffer

Die Sonnenblumenkerne in einer Pfanne bei mittlerer Hitze etwa 20-30 Minuten lang rösten, bis sie leicht gebräunt sind. Currypulver, Cayennepfeffer, Salz und Pfeffer über die Kerne streuen, dann Olivenöl hinzufügen und gut vermischen. Agavendicksaft hinzufügen und umrühren. Zur Seite stellen und abkühlen lassen.




- 30 g Sojasauce

- 1 EL Sesamöl

- 20 g Olivenöl

- 1/2 EL weißer Essig (Bianco condimento)

- 1/4 TL Zucker

Alle Zutaten in ein Glas oder eine Dressingflasche geben und gut schütteln. Im Kühlschrank stellen zum abkühlen.


Salat Zubereitung

Schneide die Brokkoliröschen von den Stangenbrokkoli ab und blanchiere sie für 30 Sekunden in kochendem Wasser. Anschließend abtropfen lassen und im Kühlschrank abkühlen lassen. Den restlichen Brokkoli für eine andere Verwendung aufbewahren (zum Beispiel in Salaten klein schneiden).

Wasche den Spinat und lege ihn in eine Schüssel. Kurz vor dem Servieren gib die getrockneten Tomaten, die gekühlten Brokkoliröschen, die Curry-Sonnenblumenkerne und das Dressing nach Belieben hinzu und vermische alles gut.


Mediterrane Mini-Quiche mit roten Zwiebeln, Tomaten, Zucchini und Schafskäse

Zuerst bereite den Teig vor wie folgt.

Perfekter Quiche-Teig


350 g ungesiebtes Weizenmehl

200 g gesalzene Butter, 10 Minuten lang gefroren

1/2 TL Salz

10-15 EL Eiswasser


Stelle die Butter für 10 Minuten in den Gefrierschrank. Fülle eine kleine Schüssel mit Wasser und gebe Eis hinzu.

Bereite den Teig zu: Vermische das Weizenmehl und das Salz in einer mittelgroßen Schüssel. Benutze die große Seite einer Reibe, um die Butter in das Mehl zu reiben. Vermische die Butter mit dem Mehl mit einer Gabel. Gib nach und nach das Eiswasser über das Mehl, einen Esslöffel nach dem anderen, und mische es mit einer Gabel, bis der Teig gerade zusammenhält. Verwende so wenig Wasser wie möglich, um den Teig zu formen. Forme den Teig mit den Händen zu einer Kugel und drücke ihn dann flach zu einer Scheibe. Lege den Teig in einen abgedeckten Behälter und stelle ihn für 15 Minuten in den Kühlschrank.

Rolle den Teig aus: Wenn du ein Teigtuch hast, bereite es vor und bestäube es mit Mehl. Andernfalls bestäube eine saubere Arbeitsfläche mit Mehl. Setze eine Teigrolleabdeckung (optional) auf und bestäube die Teigrolle mit Mehl. Rolle den Teig zu 5 gleichmäßigen Kreise aus. Bestreiche die kleinen Keramikform mit Butter oder Öl, um ein Anhaften zu verhindern. Verwende die Teigrolle, um den Teig in die Keramikform zu übertragen. Klappe den überhängenden Teig zurück und verschließe ihn zu einem Rand. Verwende deine Finger, um die Ränder zu verkrusten (siehe dieses Video).

Stech den Teig an: Verwende eine Gabel, um vorsichtig Löcher in den Boden und die Seiten des Teigs zu stechen (dies verhindert ein Aufblähen während des Blindbackens).

Heize den Ofen auf 200 °C vor.

Gefriere den Teig: Stelle den Teig für 15 Minuten in den Gefrierschrank. Nimm den Teig aus dem Gefrierschrank und lege ein Stück Backpapier auf den Teig (du kannst es vorher knüllen, damit es flexibler ist). Fülle den Teig mit Backgewichten, trockenen Bohnen oder trockenem Reis.

Blindbacken bei 200°C, dann 180°C: Backe den Teig für 12 Minuten bei 200°C. Reduziere dann die Ofentemperatur auf 180°C und entferne vorsichtig das Backpapier und die Gewichte. Backe für weitere 15 Minuten, bis der Boden leicht gebräunt ist. Nimm den Teig aus dem Ofen.

holly zimmermann regensburg running everest ultramarathon mom cooking regensburg run speaker
Insta Post von Das perfekte Dinner


Zutaten für 5 Personen:

- 1 kleine gelbe Zucchini

- 1 kleine grüne Zucchini

- 1 kleine rote Zwiebel

- 2 Knoblauchzehen, gehackt

- Salz

- Pfeffer

- 7 Eier

- 100 g Cherrytomaten, geviertelt

- 75 g Feta-Käse, in kleine Würfel geschnitten

- 30 g geriebener Gouda-Käse

- 1 EL frische Gartenkräuter (Thymian, Schnittlauch, Oregano), gehackt



1. Die beiden Zucchini und die rote Zwiebel klein hacken und mit dem Knoblauch in etwas Öl in einer Pfanne bei mittlerer bis hoher Hitze etwa 5 Minuten anbraten. Die Tomaten hinzufügen und weitere 1 Minute kochen lassen. Mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen und die gehackten Gartenkräuter unterheben. Beiseite stellen und abkühlen lassen.

2. Die Eier mit einem Schneebesen verquirlen. Mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen und den Feta- und Gouda-Käse unterrühren. Die abgekühlte Zucchinimischung vorsichtig unterheben.

3. Die vorbereiteten Teigböden mit der Quiche-Füllung füllen und bei 200°C 20 Minuten backen für 30 Minuten. Die Quiche sollte zu einer Kuppel aufgehen und beim Berühren elastisch sein.

4. Aus dem Ofen nehmen und kurz abkühlen lassen. Mit Hilfe eines Küchentuchs die Mini-Quiche vorsichtig aus der Karamikform nehmen, auf einen Teller setzen und mit dem Salat servieren. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Comrades Medaillen

Wusstest du schon... dass der Comrades Marathon einzigartig ist, da er je nach Zielzeit 8 verschiedene Medaillen verleiht? Wir alle wissen, dass bei den Olympischen Spielen Gold-, Silber- und Bronzemedaillen je nach Platzierung vergeben werden, aber man muss nicht an den Olympischen Spielen teilnehmen, um sich für eine bessere Medaillenplatzierung zu bemühen. Dafür gibt es der Comrades Marathon, der größte und älteste Ultramarathon der Welt. Die Strecke beträgt 90 Kilometer und bis zu 25.000 Läufer starten dafür. Alle kämpfen um eine Medaille, aber im Gegensatz zu den meisten Rennen bestimmt die Leistung welche Medaille sie nach dem Überqueren der Ziellinie um den Hals tragen dürfen.

Der Comrades Marathon vergibt 8 einzigartige Medaillen:

Die ersten 10 Finisher (10 Männer, 10 Frauen) erhalten eine Goldmedaille. Sie sind die Superhelden des Tages.

Die nächste Kategorie ist für Männer, die den 11. Platz bis unter 6 Stunden erreichen, und das wird die Wally Hayward-Medaille genannt. Hayward war ein südafrikanischer Langstreckenläufer, der fünfmal den Comrades gewann und einer der größten 100-Meilen-Läufer in der Geschichte war.

Frauen, die den 11. Platz bis unter 7:30 Stunden erreichen, erhalten die Isavel Roche-Kelly-Medaille. Roche-Kelly war die erste Frau, die die 7:30-Marke durchbrach. Sie war eine phänomenale junge Athletin, die tragischerweise im Alter von 23 Jahren bei einem Fahrradunfall ums Leben kam.

Männer, die zwischen 6 und 7,5 Stunden ins Ziel kommen, erhalten eine Silbermedaille.

Männer und Frauen, die unter 9 Stunden laufen, erhalten die Bill Rowan-Medaille. Rowan war der erste Gewinner des Comrades im Jahr 1921.

holly zimmermann comrades medals asics running everest
Die Robert Mtshali-Medaille wird an Läufer vergeben, die unter 10 Stunden laufen. Das ist die Medaille, die ich bekommen habe. Im Jahr 1935 war Mtshali der erste inoffizielle schwarze Läufer, der den Comrades gefinisht hat.

Die Bronzemedaille wird an Finisher unter 11 Stunden vergeben.

Diejenigen, die das Rennen vor dem 12-Stunden-Limit abschließen, erhalten die Vic Clapham-Medaille, die dem Gründer des Comrades Marathon gewidmet ist.

Obwohl die Medaille, die ich beim Comrades erhalten habe, eine der kleinsten ist die ich je bekommen habe, ist sie bei weitem eine, die ich am meisten schätzen werde, da das Rennen durch seine Größe, Traditionen, kulturelle Einzigartigkeit und phänomenale Fans besonders ist.

Die Zeitziele verleihen sicherlich eine motivierende Anstrengung und eine besondere Anerkennung für individuelle Leistungen.

Was haltest du von den Medaillenplatzierungen? Ist es ein fairer Motivationsschub? Oder verdient jeder, der es schafft, die gleiche Auszeichnung?

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Comrades: The Ultimate Ultramarathon

With up to 25,000 runners in the start blocks for the 90-kilometer course, it is by far the largest ultramarathon in the world. 

5:30am Start of The Comrades 2023

And the oldest too. The Comrades was run for the first time in 1921, an idea of World War I veteran Vic Clapham to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. And it’s not without it’s standards. All runners must qualify for it by running (at least) a standard marathon (42.2 km) in under 4 hours and 50 minutes while the race itself has a strict cut-off of 12 hours. In terms of size, in 2019 the race was capped at 25,000 runners, whereas in 2023 there were ‘only’ 16,072 on the start but with a phenomenal finisher rate of 92.68%. 
holly zimmermann ian sharman comrades running ultra ultramarathon marathon
With Ian at the Expo
The day before the race I met up with a friend, Ian Sharman, who’d I’d met in Bhutan at the Snowman Race the year before. If the name Ian Sharman rings some bells, it’s probably because he is one of the best (trail) runners in the world, currently holding the record for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning as well as 9 Guinness Book of World's records. And having already run the Comrades 8 times, I knew that he’d be the right guy for some insider tips. 

This year was a ‘down’ race beginning inland in Pietermaritzburg at 5:30am and finishing on the coast in Durban. Rewind a few hours earlier and there’s me trying to get a couple hours of shut-eye before getting up at 2 am to catch the bus to the start. As if running 90 kilometers isn’t tough enough, but most runners are doing it on only a couple hours of sleep. It is run in June, which is winter in the southern hemisphere, and it was very cold when I arrived in Pietermaritzburg at 4am. I had a jacket on which I figured I’d wear for the first 15 minutes or so till I got warmed up, but it was so cold and dark that I kept that jacket on for two whole hours before handing it off to a smiling local teenage girl who seemed thrilled to be getting a new running jacket. 

Swimming in a sea of ultrarunners
During the first 60km I struggled. My goal was to finish under 10 hours and after about the first 10km I settled in with a 10-hour pacer group and hoped they would (figuratively) carry me through to the finish. But I was having trouble keeping up with them. There were many hills where I would drop back a bit, then rejoin them as I picked up the pace downhill. But after about 20km with them and wondering why we were constantly on a 6min/km pace, I finally had to throw in the towel and let them go. That’s when another runner started chatting with me and when I told him my frustrations about not being able to keep up with the pacer group. He said, “Don’t worry. They are running a 9-hour pace. They will have to slow down. You’ll see them later.” That made me feel a bit better. That was, until the next 10-hr pacer group (there were 3 in total) caught up to me and eventually passed. Then, shortly after, as I made a quick stop in the port-o-potty, the third 10-hour pacer group passed me by. I was feeling defeated. I resigned to lower my standards and try to be content with a finish under 11 hours. I called my 18-year-old daughter via videocall who was back at the hotel back in Durban to check in on her and give her my status. She’d been the only one I’d told about my 10 hour goal and though she’d been tracking my progress, I wanted to give her an update about how I was feeling. Then I started walking the hills like all the other runners around me and tried to enjoy the wonders of South Africa. The fans were like none other. All wanted to help and were offering anything they had: food, drink, Vaseline, cold spray but the best thing on offer was their jubilation. Their pure joy at being involved in an event that had evolved into what was now almost a national holiday was absolutely energizing. 
holly zimmermann asics running everest ultramarathon mom comrades marathon
Power-walking the hills

And then things completely changed. After struggling mentally and physically for nearly 7 hours, a 14-km stretch of a gentle downhill gave me a second wind and I felt like I had wings! I began passing runners left and right! Why are they walking downhill?!? I looked at my watch and the kilometers remaining and realized it was actually totally feasible for me to finish in under 10 hours. I was back on track and began pushing myself, determined to reach my goal if not for myself but for my daughter who was my biggest fan. 

Soon I found myself running next to a little Indian woman wearing a shirt with the Indian flag and the word ‘INDIA’ on it. The crowd kept calling out to her, “Go India!” I was also rooting for her as we were working together to keep a good pace. And then, about 12 km away from the finish, we caught up with that third 10-hr pacer group. I was elated! The group had grown and they were probably about 100 strong, canvassing the entire road from left to right. Getting through them would not be easy. But thanks to tough little Miss India it wasn’t a problem at all. “You in yellow shirt! Move!” she began giving orders and I followed right on her heels. Over the next couple of kilometers we talked briefly about our timing, pace and both of us were set on the sub-10 finish. She’d stop briefly at the aid stations whereas I’d grab and go, but she’d quickly be at my side again. Then the second 10-hr pacer group came in sight at around 7 km out and we were on fire, busting our way through as though we were just out of the blocks. But soon after that I lost her at an aid station. She had stopped and didn’t return, but with only about 5km to go, and roughly 9 and a quarter on the clock, I knew we’d both make it under 10. 

 We were now in the city of Durban and there was lots to see, but still work to be done as the roads were not great and with several overpasses there were still some meters to climb. And then I thought I was hallucinating. With just over a kilometer to go to the finish, that last 10-hour pacer group, the one that I had run with for 20km but couldn’t keep up with, was in my sights. My legs felt as fresh as they were at the start and I had energy to spare as I easily worked my way through the group and could almost taste the triumph. 
holly zimmermann running everest comrades ultramarathon ultra marathon
Seeing my daughter in the crowd
Turning the corner on the homestretch to the stadium the road was packed with screaming fans and upon entering the stadium I was met with the roar of the crowd. Once inside we had to run a lap on the grassy field, in a narrow chute with cheering fans on both sides. Then I heard a familiar voice yelling, “Mom! Mom!” It was my daughter, a fair blond, surrounded by dark-skinned women also screaming ‘Mom!’ just to make sure I wouldn’t miss seeing my kid. 

The finish line arch was then in sight and the clock read 9:47… of which the remaining digits were meaningless. I was well under my goal time of 10 hours and feeling mentally and physically on top of the world! 

Lessons learned: 
 • An ultramarathon is a journey, not a moment. 
 • Hours of lows can lead to hours of highs (and vice versa). 
 • The body is a wondrous endurance machine. 
 • There is no better sport than long-distance running. 

Meeting 2nd place finisher Piet Wiersma in the
Durban airport the day after the race
Bonus! I met Piet Wiersma, the second place finisher, in the airport the day after the race!

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Dubai Marathon

The Dubai Marathon is known for its extremes: the extreme heat, the world-class elites, the exorbitant prize money, and now in 2023 there is one more superlative to add … a painfully boring race course.

dubai marathon ultramarathon holly zimmermann asics wrightsock bodyglide

The Dubai Marathon has been held since 1998 and has been known for its elite field, fast times and some of the greatest cash prizes in long-distance running history. In 2008, one million dollars were offered for a world record and a quarter million to both the men’s and women’s winners. Haile Gebrselassie took the win in that race with an impressive time of 2:04:53, though not fast enough for a world record and a clean million.

Now that my daughter is living in Dubai (hopefully not permanently), I figured it would be fun to visit her and combine the trip with the marathon, even though the course had the reputation of being relative monotonous with three city loops. But I was excited to run under the skyscrapers, including the iconic Burj Al Arab and the magical Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Plus, running a loop course gave me a chance to check out the elites several times as they fly by in the opposite direction.

But not to worry about three ‘boring city loops’ because just a few days before the marathon was to take place, there was a sudden change in venue. Instead of downtown it was set to be run out by Expo City. Wow! A new course, this must be exciting, I thought (prematurely and incorrectly).

dubai marathon ultramarathon holly zimmermann running speaker
Pre-race runner's area before dawn

The start was at 6am when the weather was still a bit cool and the sun hadn’t risen yet. It already started off strangely as there was no music at the start, no countdown and I didn’t hear a gun or any other signal that the race began. We just all unceremoniously began moving towards the start arch and the only sound to be heard were the shouts from the spectators who were limited to the runner’s friends and family since we were far removed from any residential area. The first 11 kilometers were comprised of two laps around the expo park (with no spectators, although the race volunteers were really cheery) before heading out onto a 7-lane highway into nothingness. At first I thought it could not be true, that there must be something coming up that would be worth seeing. After all, this was a major international marathon. But as the sun came up and tried futilely to filter its way through the sand and dust-filled air, the only thing that really became clear was that we were on a road to nowhere. Up and down highway bridges, past desolate industrial buildings and the beginnings of construction of hollow residential complexes. It was shocking really. There were speed limit signs with the number 100 in a red circle. Only 100 km/hr on this monstrosity of a highway seemed ridiculously slow compared to the no-speed-limit 2-lane autobahns in Germany. Kilometer 25 marked the turning point and I got to see it all again. People were running like zombies. There was nothing to see and the only motivation were the aid stations every 2.5 kilometers where the volunteers were really friendly and full of energy, so that was all I had to keep me going other than the mantras running through my head. Most aid stations provided only water. Two or three also had isotonic drink, but I found this too little considering we were running through the desert for hours, we needed mineral replenishment. There were only two aid stations that had small amounts of ‘food’: gummy bears, bananas, oranges and chocolate. Thank goodness I brought 6 gels tucked into my waist belt. It was clear the runners were frustrated. One man said told me he was going to ask for his money back. $150 for this?

And as if it couldn’t get much worse, it did. Thinking that the finish would be a highlight under the Al Wasl Dome at the Expo Center, I was shocked to find that spectators were on the last several hundred meters of the course including the chute into the finish. I was exhausted after having just run 42 kilometers and now I was dodging baby strollers just to get it over with. And if that wasn’t enough, once past the finish I was expecting to have a well-earned medal placed over my head, but there was no one there to greet us. We were cajoled to keep moving. I asked a helper where the medals were and I was told to follow the runners. We just kept going, mixed with non-runners, and I saw no end in sight. There were bathroom facilities off to the right so I ducked in to use them and wash up. Then I continued with the flocks of runners moving slowly around the expo walkway. It must have been at least 600 meters till there was a little stand with a sign that said ‘42.2 km marathon medals’ where we were given large plastic bags filled with a bottle of water, a protein bar and a marathon medal wrapped up in a little plastic bag. Another shock moment but at that point I just wanted to get out of there and off my feet, but first I needed to collect my drop bag. After aimlessly looking in the area I asked a helper who told me where to go… another 500 meters. Once collected I needed to figure out how to get to the Metro station to get ‘home’. A conveniently placed information map showed that I had to go the entire distance back to the finish line! I wanted to cry. I couldn’t make it in one shot and had to take a break on a bench and hydrate and eat the protein bar to give me some energy to get myself home.

Why the last-minute course change? I have no idea and couldn’t find anything on the Internet. I suspect licensing? Or maybe to allow all runners to finish without imposing a time restriction as was necessary when closing the main thoroughfares downtown? But hopefully by next year there will be time to rethink it and find a course that accommodates both the city and the runners.

Was it worth it? Hell yeah! I love running. I love the feeling, not only during the race, but especially afterwards when my entire body is expunged from the chaos, stress, little things that don’t really matter and gets me down to the basics of how good my body feels when having been able to prove to me the amazing feats of what it is capable of accomplishing when having the opportunity to be used to its potential.

Plus, I got the quali for Comrades. 

holly zimmermann ultramarathon marathon dubai burj khalifa
Well-earned medal at the Burj Khalifa

Attire all in ASICS (of course): Gel-Nimbus 25 super-comfy running shoes in Papaya, Road 3.5-in Short in Black, Ventilate 2.0 Tank in Sage; plus lots of BodyGlide and double-layer Wrightsock with the luck of the Irish

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Kürbis, Grünkohl und Feta-Quiche in hausgemachte Kruste

holly zimmermann running everest ultramarathon mom

Vegetarisch, aber nicht vegan. Genug für vier. Kid friendly ;)


         1/2 Hokkaido-Kürbis in dünne Halbmonde geschnitten

         1 kleine rote Zwiebel dünn in Ringe geschnitten

         1 Knoblauchzehe in dünne Scheiben geschnitten

         2 TL Olivenöl

         Salz und Pfeffer

         5 Blätter Grünkohl getrimmt

         7 Eier

         60 g Fetta zerbröckelt

         100 g geriebene Käse (Käsesorte nach Geschmack oder was im Kühlschrank liegt)

         Quiche-Kruste (siehe separates Rezept unten)

Ofen auf 220˚C Ober- oder Unterhitze 200˚C vorheizen. Kürbis, Zwiebeln und Knoblauch auf ein Backblech legen. Mit Öl beträufeln und mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen. 20 Minuten braten oder bis sie goldbraun sind.

Der Grünkohl in eine hitzebeständige Schüssel geben und mit kochendem Wasser übergießen, bis er bedeckt ist. Eine Minute stehen lassen dann abgießen, abtropfen lassen, und nach einigen Minuten, wenn es abgekühlt ist, mit den Händen überschüssige Feuchtigkeit ausdrücken. Fein zerkleinern. Eier in einer großen Schüssel verquirlen, mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen, und mit dem geriebenen Käse vermischen. Kürbis, Zwiebeln und Knoblauch in die gebackene Kruste geben. Den Feta darüber streuen, dann die Grünkohlblätter gleichmäßig darauf legen. Die Ei-Käse-Mischung darüber gießen. Backofen auf 180˚C konventionell. Backen Sie bei 180˚C konventionell für 45 Minuten oder bis es oben leicht goldbraun ist und die Mitte bei leichtem Druck zurückspringt.

Hausgemachte Quiche-Kruste


1 1/4 Tassen (185 g / 5,6 oz) einfaches weißes Mehl (Allzweckmehl)

1/2 TL Salz

100 g / 7 EL ungesalzene Butter, kalt, in 1 cm große Würfel geschnitten

3 EL eiskaltes Wasser (+ nach Bedarf mehr)


Mehl, Salz und Butter in eine Küchenmaschine geben. 10 Mal pulsieren oder bis es wie Semmelbrösel aussieht. Gießen Sie bei niedrig laufendem Motor 2,5 EL Wasser in die Sondenzufuhr.

Auf höchste Stufe stellen und 30 Sekunden lang blitzen oder bis sich eine Teigkugel bildet. Anfangs sieht es aus wie Semmelbrösel, dann verwandelt es sich in eine Kugel aus weichem Teig - einige zufällig entkommene Stücke sind in Ordnung. Wenn es nach 20 Sekunden nicht so aussieht, als würde es zusammenkommen, fügen Sie einen weiteren 1/2 Esslöffel Wasser hinzu. Blitze nicht länger als höchstens 30 Sekunden.

Eine Scheibe formen, in Frischhaltefolie wickeln. Wenn Streuselstücke ausgetreten sind, ist das in Ordnung - einfach hineindrücken. 1 - 3 Stunden kühl stellen.

Backofen auf 200 °C (Standard) oder 180 °C (Umluft) vorheizen

Arbeitsfläche mit Mehl bestreuen, Teig ausrollen und auf das Mehl legen. Die Oberseite mit Mehl bestäuben und dann zu einem 27 cm/11"-Rund ausrollen.

Rollen Sie den Teig vorsichtig, sodass er sich um das Nudelholz wickelt.

Rollen Sie es über der Quichepfanne oder Kuchenform aus – 23 cm / 9 Zoll.

Drücken Sie den Teig in die Ränder der Quiche-Pfanne und flicken Sie die Ränder bei Bedarf zusammen (wenn der Teig nicht ganz bis zum oberen Rand reicht).

Rollen Sie das Nudelholz über die Oberseite, um den überschüssigen Teig abzuschneiden.

Legen Sie ein großes Stück Pergamentpapier über den Teig und füllen Sie ihn dann mit Backperlen oder viel Reis oder getrockneten Bohnen, um ihn zu beschweren.

20 Minuten backen, dann aus dem Ofen nehmen.

Drehen Sie den Ofen auf 180 ° C (oder 160 ° C / 320 F Lüfter).

Verwenden Sie überschüssiges Papier, um heiße Perlen VORSICHTIG zu entfernen, und kehren Sie dann für 10 Minuten in den Ofen zurück oder bis der Boden hellgolden ist.

Aus dem Ofen nehmen und mit der ausgewählten Quiche-Füllung füllen.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Snowman Race

The opening sentence of the email read, “It is official, you are invited to run the 2022 Snowman Race Bhutan.”

zimmermann tigers nest bhutan running holly
The Tiger's Nest

The Snowman Race was conceived to be the toughest footrace in the world, covering over 200 kilometers in the Himalayan mountains, traversing passes of over 5400 meters (17,000 feet) above sea level, and nightly temperatures well below freezing. It was initiated by His Majesty the King of Bhutan to raise worldwide awareness to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, including climate change impacts, particularly on the inhabitants in fragile mountain ecosystems. What many people may not know is that Bhutan is only one of three nations world-wide that is carbon negative. This means that they absorb more carbon dioxide than they emit. Even so, the glaciers that feed its rivers, irrigate agricultural lands, and power its hydropower plants, are melting rapidly. Landslides and flash floods are no longer uncommon, leaving the Bhutanese highlanders constantly at risk of losing their livelihoods and their lives. 

The race was by invitation only, extended to 22 international and 8 Bhutanese athletes. The athletes chosen included some of the best endurance trail runners in the world. Why were trail runners chosen to be witnesses to climate-change impacts? His Majesty stated that he knew how much trail runners love nature and that they would observe and be in tune with their surroundings. In his mind, trail runners were the perfect messengers for his call to action.


When asked to participate in a 200+km race just 2 months prior to the start doesn’t allow much time for preparation. Either you are already trained for it, or you stay home. For me, it was not an option to decline. This was like a dream come true. The perfect race. And after years of running ultramarathons, my endurance was at the point where on any given day I could go out and run a marathon without thinking twice about it (though not fast). So I knew that the distance would not be a hurdle. My concerns were (1) the terrain: would it be at all runnable? and (2) the altitude: would I be a victim of the dreaded high-altitude sickness? To prepare for the technical terrain, I began incorporating more strength training into my weekly program. Hiking up steep rocky slopes would require strength and balance. And to prepare for the high altitude I rented an altitude-simulation compressor and tent, which I erected over my bed, allowing me to sleep at progressively higher altitudes over the four weeks prior to traveling to Bhutan. Other than that, my good-luck charms would have to suffice.

As the inaugural event, there were many unknowns about this race. Logistics, gear, availability of food and clean water, weather conditions, evacuation and health & safety options. And to be quite honest, I wasn’t 100% sure of much of anything as I packed my bags and boarded the plane, not even whether the race organizers would meet me as planned in Bangkok for the flight scheduled to carry the entire group of athletes up over the clouds and into the magical Kingdom of Bhutan.

Bhutan: Pre-race

The week in Bhutan prior to the race went by in a whirlwind. We hiked up to Paro Taktsang, known also as the Tiger’s Nest, and probably the most well-known temple in Bhutan to the outside world. The next day was a visit to the largest Buddha in the world, Great Buddha Dordenma, a magnificent golden deity which resides on a hillside overlooking the capital city of Thimpu. We enjoyed watching men ‘play’ archery, their national pastime, sending off arrows at lightning speed across the length of a football field where the small target was surrounded dangerously close by other competitors keeping an eye on the results. We dined with the former Prime Minister and visionary leader Tshering Tobgay, entertained by traditional music and dancing in costumes inspired by the wildest of fantasies. There were blessings from holy men, offerings to Buddha and candle-lighting ceremonies. We drank tea with roasted rice served in exquisite china cups with the abbot in the holy temple of Gasa Zhong, the political and spiritual center of the region where the race was to start. The Zhong was a magnificent fortification on a hill, where inside the main walls a maze of walkways, stairs, courtyards, small buildings and temples was to be found. 

We were treated like rock starts wherever we went. The news of our presence in Bhutan was omnipotent. Everyone knew who we were and we were awarded the royal treatment. Literally. As you’ll find out once you read on. 

The Race

snowman race start holly zimmermann running himalaya bhutan
Race Start

The race course itself on the first day began with 20 kilometers of forestry road which was easy to run on and fast, since we were still at relatively low elevation. The first river crossing that swept unabashed across the forestry road was running at a high level from recent rains. The current was strong and as I approached I saw no easy place to cross. There was a military officer on the other side who was clearly there to watch out for our safety. I looked at him in desperation, hoping for a tip as to where and how I should best traverse. He made a motion for me to remove my backpack as he began to wade across in his knee-high rubber boots. He took my backpack from me, motioned for me to stay put, then crossed back over the river, placing my pack on the other side. Then he waded across again, turned around and motioned for me to hop up on his back! A piggy-back ride across!

We then entered a valley that was ankle-deep full of mud for many miles. We couldn’t avoid stepping in the muck that was also loaded with horse dung, except to try to jump from rock to rock, tapping the mud with our trekking poles to find firm places to step. Then the trail began to gain altitude quickly. Running was all but impossible. Higher and higher, over passes strung with colorful prayer flags and meticulously-piled stones. It began to get very cold when the sun set around 6 pm, 12 hours since the race start. It began to rain lightly, which eventually turned to snow. The trail markings were difficult to see and I was left with only GPS to navigate the track. After 13.5 hours I finally reached the first night halt, cold and hungry. I was given a quick medical check and my vitals were good. The nurse was surprised to see that my oxygen saturation was 93%, higher than any of the other runners (I guess the tent had worked). I had woken that morning at an elevation of 2200 meters and was going to sleep that night at 4800 meters, a dangerously risky game with the altitude. 

Night Halt 1

5285 meters above sea level

I went to my tent, changed into dry clothes and pulled my sleeping bag out of my backpack. Food was brought to me which, despite being hungry, I had to force down. Altitude does crazy things to appetite and digestion. I was still cold for a long time but eventually fell into a light sleep. When I woke at 4 am and packed my bags for the 6 am start I felt pretty good. But I noticed right from the start that I was moving slower than normal, and then at the first climb over the Karchung La pass at 5280 meters, I realized that my pace was very slow, too slow. Although I had no symptoms of high-altitude sickness, at that elevation I simply could not move fast. I was afraid I would not make the subsequent daily cutoffs, which would keep me out on  the trails until late into the night, putting myself (and the organization) at risk. So I had to make the hard choice to return to camp 1 and retire from the race.

holly zimmermann snowman race bhutan himalaya running ultramarathon
Karchung La Pass

Post-Race Clarity

Six runners had retired on that first day, several more during the next, and some were even evacuated by rescue helicopters after showing signs of high-altitude sickness. In the end, of the 29 starters, 17 athletes completed the entire race (8 of 20 international starters), including all 9 Bhutanese who also, as expected, took every one of the podium positions.

holly zimmermann snowman race bhutan ultramarathon himalaya

But even as the race was over the fairytale was far from ending as we were subsequently treated to a reception with His Majesty the King and Queen of Bhutan. The finest whisky and wine in crystal goblets as well as hors d'oeuvre of Bhutan’s finest delicacies were being served in abundance. And if that weren’t enough, on the evening before flying back to reality we dined with the Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering who distributed certificates to all Snowman Race runners prior to mingling with him and other local and national politicians, including the Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji, as well as military officers and the Race Chairman and organization team. As I was sitting at a table with my tent-mate Sarah, the seat next to her suddenly became occupied and we were both surprised to see it was the Prime Minister himself! We chatted for about 15 minutes over hor d'ourves about the race and his vision for Bhutan's future. As I made the humble suggestion that perhaps some of the tourist dollars could go into supporting the infrastructure such as roads, since we'd just come in from Bumthang and the roadway was treacherous (landslides, sheer drop-offs with no guard rails, missing stretches of asphalt, cows, dogs, etc.) He gave me a smile and said, "The road from Bumthang is the best in our country!" We all laughed. 

holly zimmermann Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering
With Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering

I went to Bhutan focused on running a race, but I came home as an unofficial ambassador for this small country that stole my heart. It is one of the last untouched natural wonders of the globe, with nature, wildlife and mankind living in harmony as was done for millennia but is not seen anywhere else (or seldom) here on earth today. Their contribution to the climate crisis has been minimal if not insignificant, but they carry the greatest burden. In a bizarre reversal of the economic trickle-down theory, by the time that Western nations feel the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, the countries at the top of the world, like Bhutan, will be no more. 


This article was first published on Ask the Monsters (https://www.askthemonsters.com/the-snowman-race-running-on-top-of-the-world-literally/)