41st BMW BERLIN MARATHON on 28 September 2014

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That can not be the winner!

How Günter Hallas became the champion of the 1st BERLIN-MARATHON.

2003-02-11

40 YEARS OF RACING HISTORY
20 Years Womens Run - 30 Years BERLIN-MARATHON - 40 Years Berlin Cross Country Race
Part 2 of our look into the "history box" of the development of running in Berlin.

"Ill have to dig around long and hard to find something," was Günter Hallas answer on the phone. The organisers were planning a meeting with the winner of the 1st Berlin Peoples Marathon - as the race was officially called - that took place on October 13, 1974.

Günter Hallas arrived at the meeting, in fact, with a thick envelope and numerous mementoes of his first victory, newspaper clippings, photos, and his old worn out Puma sneakers in a plastic bag. "My wife found everything,? was his short remark. To his own surprise, there was also a certificate signed by the organiser - "this is the first time I have seen that in 29 years". There was a photo, not quite in focus, too. It showed Günter Hallas on the street in front of the Mommsen-Stadium, on his left Dieter Weiß was waving to him, behind him was a runner from BSV 92.

"That must be the first round, Im still smiling," remembers Günter Hallas, for at the end there was nothing left to laugh about.

Günter Hallas (b. January 18, 1942 in Spandau-Berlin), was a mailman and in the TSV Siemensstadt sports club, but ran officially for LG Nord. He came to running indirectly. As a 16 year old he wanted to earn his certificate of merit in sport, but failed in the 100 m race. He finally made it as an 18 year old, because he was able to run the 400 m instead. Herbert Pulver, the original track athlete of TSV helped him to reach his goal. He then trained with Helmut Klafki on Tuesdays and Fridays, and on Sundays he ran in the open races.

"Ali", as his friends called him for his somewhat darker looks, in preparation for the 1st Berlin Peoples Marathon ran 20-25 kilometres "once" and that was it. "Youll make the rest to 42 km," was the optimistic prognosis for the running premiere. He ran 50 km, max. 60 km per week (3-4 x per week about 10 - 15 km training). "The SCCers never believed me," he said. He even invited them to come and train with him, but no one ever did. One time he ran a total of 101 km in a week - "but once and never again".

Günter Hallas (Race number 37) cannot be found on the photo of the start of the 1st Berlin Peoples Marathon at Waldschulallee 80, but that changed quickly as he soon ran into a leading position. He was ahead at the 10 km mark, mostly passing by the refreshment stations: "just don lose any time, you have to keep on running," was his comment. He had one salt tablet with a glass of water (in 1974 that was part of the official refreshments), and had a warm broth at the finish!

He did not have anything to laugh about on the second round. Near the Auerbach Tunnel (at the 39/40 km mark) of the AVUS he felt so bad that he hung on to a fence and wanted to quit. A single spectator encouraged and convinced him that he was so far ahead of the second runner, "You can still make it!"

Günter Hallas did indeed make it, but he still has the cry of one spectator in his ear: "That can be the winner!" - he came so slowly and tired out after 2:44:53 across the finish at the Mommsen-Stadium ahead of Rudolf Breuer (SV Helios) 2:46:43; 3rd was Günter Olbrich (Polizei SV) 2:48:08; 4th Dieter Daubermann 2:48:40; 5th Dietrich Sickert (SC Brandenburg) 2:49:01; and 6th Clifford Lewitz (USA) 2:49:42.

The womens winner was Jutta von Haase (LG Süd) in 3:22:01 ahead of Elfriede Kayser (SC Helios) 4:03:50. Of 286 participants, 244 made it across the finish, the last one in 5:55:00

Further results can be found on the internet under "Ergebnisse 1974 (Results 1974)".

The headline of the Spandauer Volksblatt the next day read "Only a Few Drop-Outs at the Peoples Marathon", and further commented, "The 1st Berlin Peoples Marathon of SCC was a big success".

At the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON the following year Günter Hallas only came in 10th in 2:52:00 - "I was over-trained", he remembers. His race number now is "425" as a member of the BERLIN-MARATHON Jubilee Club. With 27 starts, together with Wilfried Köhnke, he lies in position two of the Jubilee Club ranking, behind Bernd Hübner (29 x). He missed the BERLIN-MARATHON once due to an illness, and once he ran the Schwarzwald Marathon, which was at the same time. He wants to make it to 30, "but it gets harder and harder - in 2002 I ran 3:18:00 - I should be able to make it in 3:20:00 this year"!

He now weighs 61 kg, "then 57/58 kg" - he always looked like he was starving at the competitions, and was thus always told to eat pigs knuckles, especially the fat - which he did. But those reading this today should not necessarily see that as a recommendation for training or competition! His personal bests are: 10.000 m - 33:00:00 (1976), half marathon - 1:13:00, 25 km - 1:27:00, Marathon - 2:35:00, and his best time for the BERLIN-MARATHON was 2:38:28. He has participated in 81 marathons, including New York, Vancouver, Hawaii, Lisbon Hamburg and ... Spandau. His victory in 1974 at the BERLIN-MARATHON isn all that surprising, he also won the marathons in Wolfsburg and in Malmö (2:35:00).

The quiet and reserved "Ali" jokes about his family, his wife, children, and grandchildren, who cheer along their "Grampa" along the course. His wife has no interest in running, but sends him out to run often. "Go run, just go run around a while, then youll look better again," she says to him when he has had enough of sitting around at home. Günter Hallas, the champion of 1974, is a gruff and seasoned runner of the old school with his own humour and sparkling eyes. He can be a role model for todays running generation, how one can master career, life, and family - and that running doesn have to be a totally serious business. Time charts, nutrition and diets, training camp, integrated running shoes, running strategies and scientific preparation for Day X - that was not part of the running world in 1974.

The organisers of the real,- BERLIN MARATHON are pleased that the "Champion 1974" with the green race number "425" is still at it.

Horst Milde


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