The grandmother of all public races is turning 40 – at the beginning there was cross country

November 8, 1964 is the birthday of mass sports and of public races in

Berlin—and in Germany as well. The running movement has gone through a

long, yet sensational development since then. The climax of this development

was the 30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON on September 27/28, 2003.

The 40th Berlin Cross Country Race by SCC-RUNNING on November 9, 2003, which

is considered to be the oldest cross-country event in the country,

traditionally rings in the cross-country season.

The long series of cross-country events began on November 8, 1964, below the

sledding hill on the Teufelsberg mountain, the “grandmother of all public

races“. The 1500m race ended with a spectacular and close victory by the

later European Champion Bodo Tümmler (SCC) ahead of Bernd-Dieter Hecht

(PSV) in "the race of the aces" and the successful bike racer, Rainer

Podlesch (Zehlendorfer Eichhörnchen) won the amateur race. There were only

three competition categories in 1964, and no race for women! Students from the

Free University Berlin had participated in university competitions in France

and Greece in 1963 and 1964. They were cross-country races through rough

terrain. In Germany one traditionally ran on “raked“ forest paths.

This kind of race was to be “imported“. At first it was planned to

organise a race just for students, but then they came up with the idea to also

animate the Berlin population previously not involved in clubs to participate,

as well. That was so unusual that the Berlin Track and Field Association (BLV)

left this premiere to the students of the FU. It was an overwhelming success

with 700 participants, when there were usually 50-70 runners at the start of a

forest race.

With catchy slogans like “No strain is too great for a real cross

country runner“ – or “Every man who doesn get stuck on the

course will receive the cross country pin“, the Berlin population was

motivated to participate. Still today, every person who makes it to the finish

receives the cross-country pin. In 1977, the Berlin Cross Country race reached

its climax with 3,430 participants, as numerous schools participated with

entire classes.

In 1995, the race was relocated from the traditional course in the Grunewald

Forest at the Teufelsberg Mountain to the Maifeld and in the Olympic horse

stadium – in part due to conflicts with the forest administration –

but it returned to the Grunewald Forest again in 2002. The flat course on the

Maifeld “was not a hit“ with the runners. The conflict was

reconciled with the forest administration and the race returned “to the

roots“ of cross-country running. The new course stood the test last year

and was judged positively by the participants. Start and finish are at the

Eichkamp sports field in Harbigstraße in Charlottenburg, but the course

goes through the forest. Changing facilities, showers, toilets, and parking are

all sufficiently available.

Registration deadline is Sunday, October 26, 2003

Invitations are available in the running office at Glockenturmstraße

23. The cross-country race is an integrative part of the runners winter

training and serves as preparation for the summer season.