Daan Coenen – Ultra Trail Runner



June 7th, 2024

Ultra-Trail des Chevaliers en Région Grand Est Daan Coenen

This event was something else. I put in hours, days, early mornings and late nights to be able to be on the startline of this event. I will share my week in Obernai with you in this blog and my thoughts on the race.


Not so long ago, I had a week of training in Obernai. Partly because of this race, but also because I wanted to push myself to new limits in my training. Conclusion: I did not find the limit! 

For this race, I booked an Airbnb in Obernai once again because this was where the finish would be. Me being a smart ass with the memory of my first 100k race, I decided I didn’t want to travel for a long time after I had finished.

It was fun to be back, this time all by myself but with high hopes for the upcoming weekend. I prepared my legs with some hill running/walking that week and ate a lot of carbs. I was ready.

Leading up to the race

Not only did I prepare for Obernai, but this was a race I had thought about for a long time. To be exact, I found out a year ago that there was this race quite close to my home place (500 km). One of my running buddies ran this race last year, but had to DNF because of digestive (energy) problems. This year he was back!

So I had a year to prepare and get ready. Get my miles in and eat elevation for dessert. Looking back at my training, I’m quite happy but could’ve done more!

The furthest distance I had run leading up to this race was 106 km. This was 9 months before this race, so you could say I wasn’t in the flow anymore.

The start

I took the bus from Obernai to Colmar where the start was of the race. I waited impatiently for the start of this 175 km monster. Met my buddy, and together we followed the knights on the horses that led us through Colmar to the mountains. 

Before this race, I knew we would run around the same pace. We ran a lot of races together, where in the beginning he would always beat me. But with me getting older and faster, I could now keep up with his pace. For your imagination, this guy would finish on the podium in all local Dutch races.

We would run semi-together for the first 35 km or so. Sometimes he would take off, but I would see him at the aid station or the other way around. The first hill, I was feeling strong, but I knew it was going to hurt later on. I needed to save my energy. We arrived at the first aid station, Ch. Pflixbourg at 11,5 km. The transition was fast and calm. We carried onwards and it was getting dark. Time to get out my headlamp!

Daan coenen


I was running with very low number bibs, meaning people with high UTMB Indexes. Was I going too fast? I was still feeling very strong and also throughout the night I kept a really good pace. For the first few hours or so, I only ate the Naak Wafels, which wasn’t a good idea at all. From around midnight, I started to dip in energy. This kept going till I finally let it all out at 02:15. I puked and felt way better.

This wasn’t new for me, I had done this before. Puking has become a thing I know I can do when needed and still carry on. At this point, I was glad it got out because I was dropping my pace at an insane rate and even on the edge of passing out at some points.

I could carry on again and get to diggin’. From that point, I was upping the pace again and feeling like I was indestructible. I kept this feeling till I arrived at the Chatenois aid station, 77 km into the race. I ate some pasta, changed my socks and shoes, and kept going. When I left this aid station, I got a little dip again. Maybe it was the amount of past I ate or the fact that I sat down which made me slow down. I needed to get my mind straight again for the next part. 

Lets get diggin'

I remember the insane climbs I had to do in that dip. At around 08:00 I was at 95 km into this race, meaning I was over the halfway mark. It was starting to get hot, and I forgot to take all my electrolytes from my drop bag, meaning I wouldn’t be prepared for this. 

From this point it was all up and down, I was entering new territory. At each stop, I would take my time and even outside the stops walk most of the trails till I met this French guy. He was 26 years old and also this was his first 100 miler. I ran with him for a little, and we pushed each other from stop to stop. At this point in the race, my feet were hurting so badly, it wasn’t the energy, it was my damn feet. 

Time for lunch! It was 12:15 when I arrived at the Barr aid station, where my parents were. This is also where I left behind my French new friend. I ate some pasta once again and carried on. There was 50 km left. I had done this before, only 50 left!

Daan coenen

The last 50

Fuck, this was hard. I barely left Barr and was already struggling. It was purely the lack of energy I was feeling. My legs were good but oh what could I expect running 120 km. Then something hilarious happened. As I was making my way to Mont Ste-Odile I met Daan Nieuwenhuis who wasn’t in the race but was exploring the trail for this girlfriend who would run the 100k the next day. We spoke for a little and then I carried on. Making my way up that climb was a heck of a lot of work. I knew this climb, I had done it before. But that didn’t make it easier! 

Arriving at the aid station, I wanted to quit. 

But that is not what we do around here! 

So I kept diggin motherfucker!

Struggling for the upcoming 30 km, I was making my way to the finish line. Getting closer and closer, I was still in an insane dip.

Just before the first to last aid station, it started raining. This wasn’t ordinary rain, it was the worst rain I had ever seen. This was also when I met Klaus. A tough ass motherfucker who knew how to push. Together we kept on going when he left me in the dust 20 km before the finish. To be fair, I was running on nothing at that time. It was pouring and I was down on my knees until the point when I saw Obernai in the distance.

At this point, all I thought about was finishing. The weather started clearing up and I could push again. Arriving at the last aid station, I had around 7 km left to go. I pushed and pushed and made up like 20 spots in those final kilometers.

Daan Coenen

The finish

It was dark again. I was 26 hours in and feeling alive and fresh again. I saw the cross from Obernai and started running fast as fuck! Sprinting down the hill into the town and towards the finish. 

“All the way from the Netherlands” was what I heard.  Heck, the fuck I am! I was the first Dutch person to finish that race. I was the youngest participant. And if the age category was fair, probably also the first in my age group to finish.

I had energy left in the tank, I wasn’t destroyed, I was fine!

Let’s do this again!

Daan coenen