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Commentary on the 30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON 2003

Hanns Ostermann (Deutschlandradio Berlin)

2003-10-06

Once again, this MARATHON has documented the fascinating side of sport. The record number of about 50,000 participants –including the inline skaters and school kids— may be important for the stats; just as the fabulous fastest time may be an indication of the tremendous human ability. But for me, a few other aspects seem more important:

All types of athletes, from the elite to the masses, attacked the course together. Young and old, women and men, Germans and Danes—as well as others from 98 other counties, people with handicaps and people without: They all completed the 42.195 kilometre long course through the capital—or tried, at least.

While the elite were primarily interested in record times and prizes, many thousand just enjoyed the race. They celebrated a festival, wore costumes and were happy: about their achievements and the spectators. Hundreds of thousands, maybe even more than a million lined the streets, never tiring to clap and to cheer on the runners with whistles, rattles and bells. Many will rave about this interaction between the athletic achievement and enthusiasm for weeks.

Berlin offered even more at this 30th edition: The runners fair with all it offered—including medical tips—was just as popular and some of the other events, which were more contemplative. For years, readings and meditation have been part of the festive supporting programme. All in all: the cultural importance of running now has a long and lively tradition in Berlin.

Remarkably – and maybe the record numbers and data are in fact important – when it all comes down to it, a very simple sport started this mass movement. While others sometimes almost start a circus to help get their sport noticed, and some others get undressed to get the cameras to pay attention to them, here it is the easiest form of human movement, simple and crude running, that enthuses the masses.

The athletes are authentic, the spectators are honest – the BERLIN MARATHON once again offers a fitting model well beyond the sport itself.


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