At 61, IMA-Europe worker trains for race in French Alps
August 16, 2004
A quote above Rainer Schulz’s desk could be a summary of his approach to life: “It’s your life. Fill it up.”
When he’s not working at Installation Management Agency-Europe as the chief of the residual value section-real estate, Schulz, 61, spends every free moment running, inline skating, cycling or kayaking.
All this time spent on training is for a much larger goal: to compete in ultra-marathons (anything longer than the standard 26-mile marathon) and all-night marathons, which can last for days at a time and may be nearly 100 miles.
“Most of my time off is in physical sports activity,” said the retired lieutenant colonel, who is from Berlin. Schulz became a U.S. citizen and served in the Army for 25 years.
A person can train physically only to a certain point, he said, and any race of 30 miles or more requires a person to be in excellent condition.
“But after that, it’s all in your mind,” Schulz said.
Before 1993, Schulz had never run more than about six miles at one time. But after a friend got him interested in marathon running, it was all uphill from there.
Schulz joined a team of amateur 30-something athletes to compete in adventure racing — picture an extreme version of the “Survivor” TV series.
In the Scottish Highlands, Sicily and Finland, Schulz and his team of four to five men and women would run, hike, rappel, inline skate, canoe and even rope their way across gushing rivers.
“All you get is a map with a general route,” he said. “You have to have a compass and be able to read a map.”
And be able to go without sleep for hours on end.
“We slept in a parking lot for 48 hours and hiked for 48 hours after that,” he said of a seven-day adventure race in Scandinavia.
This month, Schulz hopes to achieve an individual goal that he has been training for all year — to finish a nearly 100-mile night marathon around the base of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. The race, which requires climbs of more than 26,000 feet, begins in France and goes into Italy and Switzerland.
“He’s an inspiration,” said Schulz’s supervisor, Ilse Merryman, chief of real estate at IMA-E. “I don’t know anyone who can look at a mountain and can go, ‘Hmm, maybe I can climb that.’ ”
Schulz competed at the Mont Blanc Run last year, but after nine hours, he succumbed to the harsh, wet weather and bowed out after running about 75 miles. Of the roughly 600 participants, only 67 people finished the race.
Schulz is confident he can finish the race this year.
“I think I’m fairly strong- willed,” he said. “It might be really, really painful when you’re doing it, but when you’re done, you’re like on cloud nine.”
“When you’re physically challenged like that, some of our problems don’t appear to be that big.”