Experience the Freedom of Running in Berlin
August 2021 - despite the Pandemic - we experience quite a usual summer scenery in Berlin as we see someone running past us through the Brandenburg Gate - just like any other warm summer day. If we didn't know better, we'd assume that it's always been like this, a beautiful historic square with tourists on one corner, children eating ice cream on the other.
But as we remember from history class, there has been times when pretty much everything has been different and crossing from East to West Berlin through the Brandenburg Gate was impossible because there was a quite heavily guarded and reinforced wall separating both parts of the city from each other.
For anyone that doesn't recall the exact reason for this - after World War II the eastern part of Germany fell into the sphere of influence of the Communist world led by the USSR while the western part joined the free-market Capitalist side dominated by the U.S.A. - ultimately driving a deep gap between the two ideologies, going right through Germany. In 1961 this ideological division became a physical one when the Berlin Wall was constructed, thus making crossing the borders almost impossible. The Iron Curtain divided the world in two.
For years families, friends and people close to each other had to rely on secret ways to communicate, always in danger of getting caught by the East German Stasi - known for their ruthlessness and brutality. Never knowing when this horror would likely end, especially the citizens of Berlin had to go through many hardships.
The first to slip through the Gate
Luckily, it did end - after a chain of events ultimately leading to the downfall of the USSR, on November 9th 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and on October 3rd 1990 Germany was finally reunited. The two parts of the country made an entity once more, those two blocks that have been hostile towards each other for such a long time, showed the world that hostility is merely a matter of politics but not the people – and just three days before, a symbolic event has taken place, the first Berlin Marathon that included East and West Berlin September 30th, 1990.
The square, once barren and empty, suddenly was full of people cheering the newly gained feeling of freedom and unity. Uta Ippig, a long-distance runner from East Germany and winner of the race with a time of 2:28:37 hours, was among the first to get through the Gate, a moment that was the emotional highlight for many.
Open the Gates!
Fastest among the male participants was Australian Steve Moneghetti, running the Marathon in 2:08:16 hours, which contributed to the enormous success and significance of the event. A total of 50 military bands from different countries provided the matching soundtrack and rivaled the actual celebration of unification on October 3rd.
And for the world of running, it was no less of a feat, showing everyone all around the globe the incredible power of sports to connect and reconcile people.
And hopefully, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the positive chain reaction coming from it, will continue to inspire the world to tear down walls and get closer together.
The run goes on! Several thousand participants took part in our last Berlin run.
By popular demand we will also be running in 2021.
Break through the borders at this unique event, set an example against the walls and receive the coveted Berlin medal.
Picture 1 : Marius Serban via unsplash
Picture 2 : Jeison Higuita via unsplash
Picture 3 : Jones via unsplash