• Germany's news in English
 

Runners ready for Berlin Wall ultra-marathon

Published: 13 Aug 2013 10:40 GMT+02:00

It is the equivalent of running four marathons in succession. Although the winner is expected to finish in around 16 hours, most entrants will run through the night. If they have not finished by 12pm on Sunday, 30 hours after the start, they just have to stop.

Berlin's ultra-marathon is held on the weekend nearest August 13th, the date in 1961 when the Berlin Wall was raised by the former East German government eager to stop their citizens fleeing to the west.

Until restrictions on border crossings were lifted by the communist regime on November 9th, 1989, it was a symbol of oppression for the city's citizens on either side and the race is closely linked to the wall's history.

Finishers of the inaugural race in 2011 were given a medal engraved with the face of Chris Gueffroy, the last person shot dead by East German border guards trying to cross the wall on February 5th, 1989. His mother Karin was a guest of honour at the race.

This year, the medals will honour the first victim: Günter Litfin, who was shot trying to swim across Berlin's Spree river over to west Berlin on August 24th, 1961.

"We wanted to organise a 100-mile race partly to commemorate those who lost their lives on the wall and every year we remember a specific victim who was killed trying to cross," organiser Dr Ronald Musil told AFP.

For the first race two years ago, 93 runners started and 78 finished with winner Michael Vanicek from north Berlin covering the 160.90 kms in 16 hours 22.17, while the last finisher came in just seconds before the 30 hours cut-off point.

Compared to your typical Sunday jogger, Vanicek's average speed of 6:06 minutes for each kilometre is as impressive as the idea of running four marathons back-to-back.

This year there are 245 competitors, the youngest being 25 while the oldest is 72 and entrants will either tackle the entire distance solo or as part of a relay.

However, most have either some experience of long-distance running or at least a realistic idea of what to expect.

"It's not unusual for people to underestimate a marathon, but that's not something we tend to find," said Dr Musil.

"People tend to know what they are letting themselves in for in an ultra-marathon.

"The only thing we ask is that participants have a medical check with a doctor, carry a mobile phone plus water and wear a reflective vest when running at night, with a head-torch to see the way."

This year's field includes past winners of both the Spartathlon, the 246-kilometre Greek race held annually between Athens and Sparta, and the notorious Badwater Ultra-marathon, the self-styled "world's toughest foot race" over 217 kilometres through California's Death Valley in the USA.

The logistics of the Berlin race include 300 volunteer helpers staffing 27 first-aid stations along the route, each kitted out with 470kgs of food and drink to restore weary legs.

"It's a logistical challenge to supply each station, many of which stay open through the night," said Dr Musil.

"It is actually harder in the city centre than in the remote areas, as there is more traffic to contend with and more regulations."

On race day, breakfast is offered at the start from 4am and the route is marked by fluorescent blue arrows to help runners, especially through the night.

Runners are registered from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

At €189 euros, entry is not cheap, but the event is run by a group of dedicated volunteers as a non-profit making venture.

Entry for the 2014 race has already opened and the limit has been raised from 250 to 500.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
EU-US trade talks prompt German ire
Photo: DPA

EU-US trade talks prompt German ire

In much of Europe any mention of TTIP might receive a blank stare, in Germany the proposed US-EU free trade pact is likely to prompt a volley of angry words. READ  

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record
Photo: DPA

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record

Oskar Gröning, 93, a former Nazi known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz", goes on trial in Germany on Tuesday in what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial while an expert calls the country's judicial record 'miserable'. READ  

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots
Photo: DPA

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots

The general manager of Turkish Airlines has urged single pilots to marry, after the Germanwings tragedy blamed on a pilot with psychological problems. READ  

Germany and Greece
'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'
Thanasis Glavinas outside one of the German parliament's buildings. Photo: Private

'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'

With the war of words – and cashflows – between Greece and Germany showing no sign of dying down, The Local meets one young Greek who's come to see what the Germans have to teach about running a country successfully. READ  

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations
'Loitz doesn't need any asylum seekers' reads the graffiti. Photo:DPA

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on Friday for state governments to speed up deportations of failed asylum applicants, in the latest round in a war of words between the federal government and the states. READ  

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours
Photo: DPA

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has dodged a broadside from company chairman Ferdinand Piech which many thought would unseat him from the troubled car maker. Instead, the steering committee has offered him an extension to his contract. READ  

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola
Tension on the touchline: Guardiola, Schweinsteiger and Müller-Wohlfahrt Photo: DPA

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola

The resignation of iconic club doctor Hans-Willhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on Thursday evening threatens to unleash internal chaos at Bayern Munich after their Champions League humiliation at the hands of FC Porto. READ  

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline
An InterCity train in Hannover's main train station. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has until 3 pm on Friday to respond to demands from the Train Drivers' Union (GDL) for a "reasonable provisional result" in talks over pay, conditions and union representation. READ  

Liberals: Data retention unconstitutional
Deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party Wolfgang Kubicki. Photo:DPA

Liberals: Data retention unconstitutional

The deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), Wolfgang Kubicki, called the government's plans to store communications data 'unconstitutional' and said he will fight the proposals in court. READ  

Germany honours Warsaw Uprising fighters
Leszek Zukowski (c) participated in the Warsaw uprising. Photo:DPA

Germany honours Warsaw Uprising fighters

Germany on Thursday awarded its highest honour for the first time to Poles who fought the occupying Nazis in the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising of 1944, one of World War II's bloodiest episodes. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,264
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd