Study: motivation behind the Dodentocht

Voor Nederlands, klik hier

ugentdodentochtlogo'Dodentocht sold out in two hours' (De Standaard, 25 maart 2019). The time in which all 13,000 tickets were sold out is unseen and arises the question why people are so willing to walk 100 km in 24 hours. Some refer to a strong willpower and the challenge of fighting your own mental boundaries. Still, no psychological research has explored these questions. 

To investigate why people are so willing to participate the Dodentocht, the Dodentocht organisation and Ghent University collaborate in a new study studying the motivation behind the Dodentocht. We question the (mental) drive of participants, to what extent people have different mental drives and to which outcomes these differences are associated. On this page, we want to introduce you shortly to the study:

“The 'feeling of the Dodentocht' is a mental feeling, rather than a physical one. It is the feeling you experience after you crawled from the deepest abyss back to the surface, pure and simple coming from willpower..”  - Jef Cauwenberghs (a young untrained reported who participated the Dodentocht for the first time, 2015).

The first questionnaire BEFORE the start of the Dodentocht

To find the first questionnaire of the research, click here to open the questionnaire in English

The study


Speaking are  André De Clerck (chairman Dodentocht vzw and coordinator team Field), Stéphanie De Leenheer (coordinator team Intern) and Maarten Vansteenkiste (professor developmental- and motivational psychology). Recording, producing and music by Joachim Waterschoot.


Clip 1: the start of the Dodentocht Clip 2: the motivation behind the Dodentocht Clip 3: the research


We are looking for...

  • participants of the Dodentocht 2019 


What does the research look like?

In this table, you find more practical information regarding the study:

A participation contains:






From the 5th of August

at 27.3 km

at 53.7 km

at 72 km

at 89.8 km

From the 10th of August


Online questionnaire

In your mailbox

By smartphone or by paper

While walking or at the UGent posts

Online questionnaire

In your mailbox

How long?

14 min.

1 min.

1 min.

1 min.

1 min.

13 min.

Why should I participate this study?

  • To know more about the motivation to participate the Dodentocht
  • So we can provide some useful tips to hold on next year
  • To contribute to scientific research


Need more information?

Visit us at the UGent posts during the picking up-days or during the Dodentocht. 

Download here our banner including an overview of the study.


"The greatness of a human being cannot be measured by his performances, but by his aspirations..." - A walker after quitting the Dodentocht in 1981.  

Wanted: participants

Are you interested in participating this study as a participant of the Dodentocht? 

You are more than welcome! In this link we ask you some information so we can make contact later and send you the questionnaires. Attention: this information is only used for purposes of the study and no other purposes. 

Wanted: volunteers

Do you like to encourage the walkers and are you interested in this research? 

In the organisation of the Dodentocht and this study, we are still looking for volunteers who would like to help us in making this research work. More information can be found by clicking on this link. In this link we ask you some information so we can make contact later and send you the questionnaires. Attention: this information is only used for purposes of the study and no other purposes. 

More information and subscribing as a research volunteer can be found here: I would like to help the research group as a volunteer


On this page, we will present the results of the research after all data is processed and analysed. 


What does a participation on this study ask from me?

Importantly, it is not our intention to intervene with this study in your performance or experience of the Dodentocht. In contrast, we believe a participation makes your experience more interesting. By completing the questionnaire during the Dodentocht, we do believe that it provides you a greater consciousness about your perception and the ways you deal with different situations you face during the walk.

Do you want to do more in this study? Please, send an email to


How do I prepare?

A participation does not require any preparation. We attempt to intervene as least as possible in your preparation and/or performances during the Dodentocht. What can you do?

  • If you are planning to complete the questionnaires during the Dodentocht on your smartphone, it could be useful to have a powerbank to make sure you have enough battery life.
  • No worries. If your battery is low, you can complete the questionnaire by paper at the UGent posts during the walk.


Do I need to finish to participate this study?

Finishing is not a condition to participate this study. Both walkers who finish and who does not finish are interesting for the research.


What if I do not have completed all questionnaires?

If some conditions have resulted in not participating all questionnaires, you are still able to participate the study. For example, you could complete only the questionnaires before and after the Dodentocht. However, we encourage participants to complete all questionnaires as this provides the most information to answer the question why people participate the Dodentocht and how they experience it.


I have more questions about this research

We would like to help and to inform participants as much as possible.

Do you have questions or doubts regarding your participation? Do not hesitate and send us an email to the following adress or come and visit us at the UGent posts during the picking-up days!


For all questions and information:

    A collaboration of:

    Logo UGent Dodentocht