Tough Mudder 2015

I initially set out to run a Tough Mudder in November when a good friend of mine asked me whether I wanted to do it with her. At that time I was horribly unathletic but had just started to go to the gym regularly and thought that this might be easier if I was training towards a target so I agreed, unknowing of what that would mean.

Together, we went to the gym regularly and started Tabata training, led by an incredible trainer that would continuously push us to our limits which quickly resulted in first improvements (and me being unable to wash my hair properly for several weeks as I just couldn’t move my arms high enough anymore).

In addition, I started running in the forests around Vallendar, beginning with 4km and slowly increasing to 12km at the end.

When the big weekend came, I was an intern at Deloitte Digital in Munich so on Friday afternoon I got in my car, drove to Erlangen where I picked up her little sister who had decided to join our team. We continued to Bonn to pick her up and then onwards to Arnsberg where we would start the next day at 10am. As always, things didn’t go according to plan as we needed 9h instead of the planned 7h and when we arrived at our hotel at 1am we were unable to find the entrance (we had to pick up the key at a partner hotel half an hour away and were the only guests at ours, therefore they didn’t see the need to have a night portier). After an hour of frenetic search and almost giving up, deciding to sleep in the car we got lucky and finally found a door that matched our keys.

After 4 1/2h of sleep we got up, had some breakfast and then drove to the event location where many pumped up Mudders were already swarming the place. When it was our cohorts turn, we warmed up and then went to the start area. To get there, we had to climb a 2m high wooden wall and as I just reached the top an overly ambitious Mudder pushed me, resulting in me falling onto my hands, leading to some pain in my right wrist for the first kilometers. After taking the obligatory oath we went our ways.

The tough mudder is a challenge, not a race. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine, kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. And I overcome all my fears.

The run itself was a little over 18km, sporting 19 obstacles including the all-time favorites Arctic Enegma 2.0, Birth Canal, Berlin Wall and the obligatory Electroshock Therapy we arrived with a few scratches and covered in dirt at the finish line. We managed to overcome every obstacle except for the Funky Monkey 2.0 where all three of us landed in the water after the first few bars. The atmosphere was festival-like with everyone enjoying the challenge and reminded me a lot of a very relaxed festival.

Overall, it was an awesome experience and I am proud of what we achieved as a team. Therefore, I quite certain that this was not my last Tough Mudder.


Motorboat and Sailing license

As I wrote here, one of my goals is to do my motorboat and sailing licenses. In Germany there are a multitude of different options for this ranging from inland waters only to full captain’s patents. I choose to go for the inland water license as this is most likely the one I really need. After some internal discussions, my whole family decided to participate and my father, my brother and I set the ambitious goal to do the license in just little over 3 weeks. We settled on the Segelschule Hering, a nice and well located school in Berlin. So for the last few weeks I spent a lot of time out on the water (25h of practical training are necessary) and we all went to the theoretical instructions which lasted a full weekend. Yesterday we had the theoretical exam which is set to last 1h but it took everyone at most 15 minutes to complete. We all passed and the next morning we were at the Nikolassee to do the practical exam both for motorboat and sailing. We started out with a knot exam, showing off 7 different knots that were rather easy to remember once you got the hang of them. As there was a little wind and the prediction was that it would tune down later, we then directly proceeded to our sailing boats and got out on the lake. One boat after the other was examined and although I made a little mistake ( I jibed when I really should have gone straight), I passed and so did my dad and my brother. We then continued with the motorboat exam which consisted of doing a man overboard manoeuvre  and landing the boat. Fortunately, we all passed this part as well and therefore are now allowed to steer both types of boats.

Hunting License Part III

I did it!!

After two training days on the 24th and 25th I finally passed my shooting test yesterday! The training itself went really well after some initial warm up problems. When shooting the final round at each category, I took down 13 out of 15 doves, hit 10, 10, 9, 8 and 5 points at the boar and hit perfect score (50 out of 50 points) at the deer stand. Therefore, I was rather relaxed when I arrived at the shooting range Saturday morning 8am. Together with another student I was greeted by a total of 12 testers. The atmosphere was very relaxed and I started out at the deer stand shooting 37 points (I was rather shaky… you know the feeling ;-). After that I continued to the boar and needed 3 shots to pass as the first one was too low. Finally, we continued to shoot skeet where I had my five pigeons down after six shots. After a little speech I was handed my test certificate and am now incredibly happy!

2014-05-09 11.30.12

This also marks the completion of my first goal – pass the hunting license :-).


So I just signed up for the #ExperienceBosch challenge. It is a 16 day trip to six destinations worldwide where you learn more about Bosch and their products in action. Here is what I wrote as a motivational letter:

There is a multitude of reasons why I am the perfect Bosch explorer so I will try to keep it simple.

First, I am an Explorer. I just returned from a three week backpacking trip through morocco, in the last four years I have lived in Germany, France, the UK and the United States in addition to travelling to Spain, Switzerland, Poland, China and Indonesia. I speak German, French and English fluently and just started learning Spanish.

Second, I am a digital native. Apart from actively using Twitter and Facebook, I have worked in several internet start-ups, won a scholarship to an eBootcamp at Stanford University and founded (and failed with) 2 companies in the internet sector.

Third, I am a little crazy. Just google for “Philipp von Hammerstein Döner” – that is the third company I founded.

Last but not least: I really want to get to known a company that produces physical products so I can reassure you that I will be an attentive listener and that I will bother you with any question that comes to my mind.

I’ m quite interested whether they’ll take me 🙂

Hunting License Part I

After having had the thought of doing the hunting license in my head for quite a while, a friend of mine connected me with several of his companions who, autonomously, told him that they would want to do this as well. As a group we quickly settled on Jagdschule “Jägerhof Wendland”, which was in the middle of Hamburg and Berlin, the places we would be coming from.

The Jagdschule is located in Trebel, a small village near Gorleben (you know – the place where we currently store some atomar stuff). It is run by Claudia, a great and fun person that welcomes every student individually. She has assembled an awesome team there and her husband makes sure that we had delicious meals every day.

After 4 consecutive weekends driving to the Jagdschule saturday morning at 5am and coming back exhausted but happy sunday night, we had our final week there with lots of training and a final bootcamp day at the end. 

My initial group was composed of 5 others (of whom one unfortunately had to drop out after the second weekend).  We got along great and still stay in touch, discussing a multitude of topics (hallelujah whatsapp!). For the final week we were merged with a three week intensive course.

The hunting license is composed of several parts.

First, one has to recognize several signals that are blown on hunting horns.

Second, there are five different subjects. Knowledge is required regarding game and other animals, weapons and snares, nature conservation, how to handle hunted game, possible diseases, dogs, hunting traditions as well as hunting- and weapon laws. Said knowledge is tested in a written as well as a verbal test whereas especially the knowledge about game and weapons is viewed as essential.

Third, the student’s shooting ability is tested in three categories. They have to be able to shoot 5 out of 15 clay pigeons at the skeet stand, deadly hit a running boar (or better: a poster of one mounted to a wooden plate) 2 out of 5 times at a distance of 50 meters as well as make at least 25 out of 50 possible points shooting at deer from 100 meters.

Our teachers all had a long hunting history themselves and were therefore able not only to teach their respective topics but also bring us closer to what they called the “hunting spirit” – a mindset that they deem extremely important for any hunter.

Overall, this time was a combination of hard learning (there are more than 2.000 questions for the written test so it is not sufficient to have a general understanding of a topic).

Our Exam started with the hunting signals, a test that was easily passed. We then continued to the shooting test, something I was rather self-assured in as I had really good training results. Today however, nothing seemed to be working out. In the first round I didn’t hit a single cray pigeon. I continued on to the boar, where I needed three shots and the two that hit were nowhere close a good mark (usually 4 out of 5 hits and very accurately in the middle). Shooting the deer I hit 27 points, a new all time low (again I hit 42-47 during training). Then I was allowed a second round of skeet, together with two other friends from my course. While one of the other two managed to hit the required goal, I shot a single lonely pigeon and therefore failed this part of the exam. Afterwards, we had a long break in which I was fortunately able to control the anger and frustration I had inside myself.  In the afternoon, we had the written exam on the five topics and afterwards went home, had a couple of beers and then went to bed for day two in which we were tested verbally. The verbal test was taken together with another hunting school and as only five people were tested at the same time, this took its time. When not tested, we were to wait outside and not speak to those who were already finished. After several hours (I was already quite frozen – remember: this was end of February) it was finaly my turn. I started of with the subject I had least prepared for: Nature conversation where I was asked to identify several pieces of wood, some leaves as well as seeds and then I was asked basic biological processes. To my shame I must admit that I failed badly at this, trying to play for time did also not do the trick in this case. Afterwards, I continued to dogs, hunting traditions and possible diseases. This was a topic I was rather fond of and except for some initial problems with diseases passed rather well. Then it was onward to the legal questions, also a topic that I found manageable. My second to last topic was game and other wild animals, something I was rather afraid as it is near to impossible to remember all the facts about every single animal that might be a topic of discussion. My examinant was a very nice guy and except for a few minor mental blackouts and one incredibly lucky shot (I randomly guessed that the bird in front of me was a jaybird) it went well. Lastly, I had the test that we trained over and over again at the Jagdschule. It was weapon handling in which a weapon has to be loaded, a situation is presented to which one has to react properly and then unload and safely return the weapon as well as answer some questions regarding weapons and ammunition.

After that, I met with the chairman of the examination committee and he told me that I had passed the combination of the written & the verbal test.

After some official part, we went home to the Jagdschule Wendland, not without first stopping at the supermarket and getting a little liquor to celebrate the (on my behalf partly) success.

Summarizing, I had a great time, made some new friends and learned a ton of interesting things in a field I have strongly neglected in school (i almost flunked in 11th grade because of biology and made sure to get rid of it afterwards). Nevertheless, I will have to return for a second time to repeat my shooting test.



Hunting License – Intro

As I said here, one of my goals is to acquire the hunting license, which is necessary to be allowed to go hunting within Germany. As this is quite a controversial topic I’ d like to state a few thoughts on the topic and my personal reasons why I chose to do this.

I believe that using a gun is a highly dangerous thing and I will never have a weapon in my house as I want to minimize the risk of any possible accident. When looking to the US or also just within Germany it becomes obvious, that having a weapon in your home is definitely not a good idea.

When using a gun to shoot an animal, one suddenly plays god (or whatever higher force you might believe in). One decides over life or death and as I am vividly against death penalty, it is a little odd that I don’t apply the same measures for animals.

For me personally, doing this license has several reasons. Firstly, my family owns a little bit of forest and I have so far to understand a single thing about forestry. Second, my interest in biology in school was below 0 so I don’ t have any memory of it, except for when we were two cut a fish open in third grade (I almost threw up). However, I recently discovered, that I like hiking (yes… I am getting old) but I have no idea about neither forestry nor the animals that populate our forests. Third, I like meat so becoming a vegetarian is not an option for me. Buying the meat in the supermarket is also not the best option as these animals have most likely not had a happy life (EVEN if it says “bio” on them). So I was very impressed when Mark Zuckerberg stated, that he will only eat meat he killed himself. I am not yet there but I think that he has a very good approach. Lastly, there would be a huge overpopulation of animals if it weren’t for hunters. Now one might argue that this would not be the case after some years of leaving the animals to themselves. This would however result in a multitude of new problems, including diseases, potential harmed humans and last but not least, it would probably not be as safe talking a nice stroll in a forest anymore.

All this resulted in my decision to do the hunting license. In the following I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.