41st BMW BERLIN MARATHON on 28 September 2014

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Berlin Anniversary Marathon 2003

a great cultural sightseeing tour through Germany

2003-07-25

Rien ne va plus – all full up! Fifteen whole weeks before the 30th real,- BERLIN-MARATHON gets under way on the last weekend in September, the organisers of the Berlin Anniversary Marathon announced that the starting field was set and that no more entries would be accepted. An unbelievable 35,000 women and men – ten percent more than last year – from more than 85 countries and every continent have entered for the 30th BERLIN-MARATHON. Long-distance running, endurance jogging and marathon running are finding more and more fans throughout the world.

99.8 percent of the starters really just want to say theyve taken part. They won be able to keep up with the stars of the scene from Kenya, Great Britain, Japan or Ethiopia anyway, when the quest for a new world record begins on the fast Berlin course of 42.195 kilometres. Most participants simply want to enjoy another one of the most important marathon runs in the world. New York, London, Boston, Chicago – Berlin has now also become a cult race for marathon fans.

The 2003 BERLIN-MARATHON will in fact be a cultural sightseeing tour through the German capital. Until last year, the finish line was situated near the Berlin Gedächtnis-Kirche (Memorial Church) – a memorial to war and the consequent political disunity of Europe, Germany and Berlin.

On September 28, however, for the first time the finish line will be at the Brandenburg Gate. The pictures of the beaming victors, which, thanks to Germanys international broadcaster DW-TV, will be seen live not only in Germany but all around the world, will have this striking landmark constantly in the background as the old and – following the fall of the Berlin Wall – new symbol of German unity. The new course for this years BERLIN-MARATHON provides just as much a political tour of the city as a cultural one. Gerhard Schroeder, the races patron, need only step out of the door of his Federal Chancellery at the 6.5-kilometre mark to admire the heroes in the street. A few hundred metres on, the runners will pass the heart of German democracy, the Reichstag. And while the going is still easy, the course leads past the Friedrichstadtpalast, a temple of light entertainment.

Later on, many a marathon runner will feel close to home: at the 12-kilometre mark, for example, there is the embassy of the Peoples Republic of China, then numerous other embassies as the course proceeds; and finally, shortly before the dash to the finish line at 41 kilometres, there is the Russian embassy on Unter den Linden, Berlins showcase boulevard.

At 22 kilometres, memories of John F. Kennedy will inevitably spring to mind. Forty years ago – on June 26, 1963 –, standing in front of the Schöneberg town hall, the then president of the United States uttered one of the most memorable sentences in post-war history, “Ich bin ein Berliner“, which amounted to a call to fight against repression and for the cause of freedom.

All those who make it past the 35-kilometre mark – the point where many runners have been forced to throw in the towel - can reckon with a dynamic finale. First, there will be a classical touch. Sir Simon Rattle, the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, will send the runners on their way early in the morning with a rather unmusical pistol shot. Later they will be able to luxuriate in the sounds of classical music when they start the last fifth of the course in front of the Philharmonie concert hall. The musicians are sure to play with even greater enthusiasm when the orchestras principal oboist, Christoph Hartmann, runs past. Christoph is expected to come in among the best 300 runners from the field of 35,000. One could say he personifies the concept of “sporting culture“! Finally, the runners will pass the cathedrals – the French Cathedral, the German Cathedral and the Berlin Cathedral. But they will have no time to drop into the New National Gallery at Potsdam Square, or to pay a visit to the State Opera or Comic Opera.

Anyone whose interests take a more literary turn will be able to indulge them on the day before the race. Since 1990 the Literature Marathon has been a special Berlin tradition. Authors who have written about running read from their works at the so-called Marathon Literary Fair between the “Pasta Lounge“ and the distribution of the race numbers. One of the most memorable readings in the past was by Hartwig Gauder in 1999. In 1980 he was an Olympic gold medallist in race-walking, and became world champion in 1987. After becoming ill with an inflammation of the heart, he was at first given an artificial organ, and now has a donor heart. His book “The Second Chance: My Life with a Third Heart“ makes for breathtaking reading. Back to the final sprint. The last kilometres of the course take the runners past the German Foreign Ministry. What will its head – Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer – be doing on September 28 - Will he be continuing with his diplomatic peace marathon in the Middle East? Or will he be watching sadly from his desk when umpteen thousand tired but happy runners approach the finish? Or will the Herr Minister – and this is what hed like most - be among the many people who have temporarily run away from their everyday cares? One thing is for sure – the 30th real,- BERLIN-MARATHON will be more than just a sporting highlight: it will be a great cultural tour through Germanys capital.

Hanspeter Detmer


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