• Germany's news in English
 

Runners ready for Berlin Wall ultra-marathon

The Local · 13 Aug 2013, 10:40

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
Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin
Excavation of the mosque site outside Berlin. Photo: Freie Universität

Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin

8 hours ago

Archaeologists have excavated the remains of Germany's oldest mosque on the outskirts of Berlin, a team from the capital city's Free University (FU) announced on Monday.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place
The Malaysia Airlines plane which disappeared on March 8th 2014. Photo: Laurent ERRERA / Wikimedia Commons.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place

8 hours ago

German scientists have challenged conventional wisdom on the crash site of the MH370, the Malaysia Airlines plane missing since March 2014, suggesting the search is being conducted in the wrong place.

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn
What's not to love about the start of Lebkuchen season? Photo: DPA

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn

9 hours ago

September 1st may be the first day of autumn, but it's not all sad news for those living in Germany. Here are five reasons why we should welcome autumn with open arms.

Opinion
Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps
Students in a lecture theatre at Cologne University. Photo: DPA

Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps

10 hours ago

Finnish student Juuso Nisula moved to Cologne to study business administration, but found a catalogue of failings instead in the model of German educational efficiency he was expecting. He explains just what went wrong - and how to fix it - in an opinion piece republished by The Local.

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts
Photo:DPA

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts

11 hours ago

A court in Berlin has ordered a teenager to pay €500 in damages to his 13-year-old ex-girlfriend after sharing intimate pictures of her over WhatsApp, the girl's lawyer has revealed.

Migrant crisis
Munich police swamped with refugee donations
A woman working for Refugee Aid Munich (Flüchtlingshilfe München) hands a soft toy to a refugee child. Photo: DPA

Munich police swamped with refugee donations

18 hours ago

UPDATE: As over 1,000 refugees arrived in Munich from Hungary by train on Tuesday, police in the Bavarian capital said they were "overwhelmed" by the amount of food, water and other supplies donated by local people to those in need.

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start

12 hours ago

Germany coach Joachim Löw is backing Bastian Schweinsteiger to brush off his shaky start at Manchester United when he captains his country in Friday's key Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

Unemployment level stays at record low
Photo: DPA

Unemployment level stays at record low

13 hours ago

German unemployment remained at historically low levels in August as the recovery in Europe's biggest economy continued on track, data showed on Tuesday.

Bavarian minister uses n-word on live TV
Singer Roberto Blanco (left) and Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann (right). Photo: DPA:

Bavarian minister uses n-word on live TV

15 hours ago

Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann (CDU) has become the target of widespread outrage after calling singer Roberto Blanco a "wonderful negro" on live television - and failing to apologize when challenged on Tuesday morning.

Orang-utan shot after shocking zoo breakout
File photo: DPA

Orang-utan shot after shocking zoo breakout

17 hours ago

Zoo workers in Duisburg shot an orang-utan late on Monday evening after two of the apes escaped from their cage in the westerly city.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
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

6,937
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd