What follows is the first review of one of the original participants from Night Mission II that I hosted in 2015 in Vienna. Enjoy the read!
Night Mission Beta
It’s 9 pm in Vienna, and we’re just standing around at Donauinsel. Would we’ve been aware that these were our last moments of idle rest for a long time, we probably would’ve enjoyed them more. After all five participants gathered, Alexandros looked us in the eye, smiled from cheek to cheek and proclaimed: “Night Mission Beta has officially started.” He briefed us on the mission’s toughness, encouraged us to drop out before we pass out. And then we ran into the dark.
On the one hand, I expected an adventure. Cities the size of Vienna burst with hidden corners and secret places. I knew Alexandros wanted to explore those with us. Secondly, I expected a challenge. Back then I was sleep-deprived from the start, so I knew this mission would push me to my limits. In both cases I was right. Especially as my physical limits got a good kick to the teeth.
The first surprise was the sheer lack of motorized transportation. We ran the city. Now I’ve always perceived Vienna as a mosaic of metro stops. Now I visited all these hotspots – Donauinsel, Stadtpark, Schottentor and others – by foot, and I saw Vienna as a whole, interconnected and fluid. This alone gave me a new feeling for my city. We made around 20km that night, jogging, walking, breathing, repeat. Alexandros didn’t want us to get cold or tired, and even though my body hated him for that at some point, I knew he was right. Too many breaks would’ve broken us. And with the challenges at hand, we couldn’t afford to go down.
The ~18 challenges demanded both physical and mental strength. I climbed walls in 8m height, with just the arms of our comrades as safety nets. I carried an 84kg man on Vienna’s most beautiful staircase, up and down. I stood on a railing, fell, got up again, fell, up, fell up, for 15 minutes all in all. And all that with my body wondering why the hell it wasn’t lying in my bed as usual in the middle of the night.
Towards the end, when we ran up a mountain, sleep deprivation almost got the better of me. My eyelids weighed tons. I slept for split-seconds while walking in an involuntary zig-zag, looking like a drunkard. All the time I knew I would pull through, and I felt Alexandros watchful eyes on me, ready to step in. But Jesus Christ was I tired. Going in there without sufficient sleep was my mistake. A Night Mission demands top-notch fitness.
We all were struggling at some point. But the group generated a force field of determination, which fuelledevery single one of our cells. With a healthy mixture of competition and support, we battled those weak moments we all had individually. And thus we achieved feats I would’ve deemed impossible otherwise. The Night Mission Beta was not so much a feat of strength as it was one of endurance. While I ran, jumped, balanced and carried, 95% of my brain was occupied with a simple mantra: “One more step. One more push-up. One more minute.”
But the other 5% were all like “Hell, I can’t wait until tomorrow when I grasp what I’ve achieved here.”
And indeed, when I woke up the next day, I was physically crushed to pieces – but my mind fired endorphins in all directions. I bathed in my glorious pain, knowing that’s how it feels when limits break.
We started at 9pm. At 6am I collapsed into my bed. 9 hours, 20 kilometers, 18 challenges, 6 warriors, 1 goal. The Night Mission Beta showed me the power of comradeship, it gave me a new perspective on my city. And I got a glimpse at the potential of body and mind. It’s an experience like no other. If you want to see how far you can push yourself, go for it. Just make sure to take a nap beforehand.