Germany 13 August: Berlin
The Peace Run at the Berlin Wall Race 2017
161 km/100 miles along the former Berlin Wall
The 100 mile Berlin Wall Race ("Mauerweglauf") is a very special race along the route of the former Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Founded in 2011 the race commemorates the people who died trying to escape across the former border. This year, in the 6th edition of the race, over 350 solo runners from all over the world participated, plus 85 relay teams, from 2 to 10+ person teams. Our Berlin team had long been inspired to run it, and now, for the 30th anniversary of the Peace Run, we finally got an international team together for a 10+ person relay, plus one offial solo runner - Aleš Plíva.
Samalya from Berlin, one of our two fastest runners, who also officially carried the Peace Torch at the start of the Heidelberg Halfmarathon in April 30, was just as delighted to finally run the Berlin Wall Race in a team as the rest of us. Everyone had their own personal reasons that inspired him or her - and to come all the way not just from Hamburg or Heidelberg, but also from Amsterdam (NL), Salzburg (Austria), Rome (Italy), Prague and Zlin (Czech Republic) and even Minsk (Belarus).
Our relay mostly ran as a small team of two or three, apart from the start and the last 3 legs - sharing the torch with other runners at times. At the end almost the whole team came together for a final victory oneness-lap before crossing the finish line emotionally after 16 hours 26 min. (Our fast runners, Abhinabha and Samalya had unintentionally missed running a few hundred meters into the sports field at VP 17, but luckily informed the organizers, and so we were allowed to make up for it by running an extra lap in the stadium at the finish - which felt like a blessing in disguise.)
28 stages, 27 food stations (VP-points) - VP8 staffed by part of our team, "Peace Runners and Friends"
VP8: "Peace Runners and Friends" with Kathleen and her team - "manning" the food station on Sat. between 8 am - 3 pm
28 years before, on June 3/4, 1989, a few months before the Berlin Wall came down, our Berlin team members at that time organized the first run ever along the whole length at the still existing Berlin Wall. The "Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run" torch relay took place over two days - with over 70 runners, including a number of well-known German long-distance runners like Ingo Sensburg, who lit the torch, Helga Backhaus, Johanna Koths, Rainer, Schädlich, Stephan Mayer and Hildegard Schmidthuber. At the end children from many nations joinded. A few very nice TV and newspapers reports coverd the event. Interestingly, our changeover points at Checkpoint Charly and Bornholmer Allee were the spots that opened first when the Wall came down in Nov. 1989!
Friday noon, Aug. 11, 2017, before the start of the big race on Saturday morning, there was a special event at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Straße, diving into the history of the Berlin Wall, followed by an easy 5 km Friendship Run from the museum back to the H4 Hotel, for race briefing, pasta party etc.
Taking a short tour around the memorial site - a preserved part of the former "death strip" - before the 5 km Friendship Run
Here the wall was erected in 1961 within a single day! One of our runners, Carola, actually lived right at the wall for 24 years since her early childhood. When the wind came from the West, she could hear people`s voices in the West and smell their food across the death strip.
Carola, our first torch bearer. She lived right at the Berlin Wall for 24 years since her childhood, and the first leg of the relay will pass by her house.
The first leg in the city is run by a larger Peace Run relay team, while some of us are already off to staff the VP8 food station.
Meanwhile Aleš (blue sweater) has started as a solo runner, and is about to put a rose at the memorial of Dorit Schmiel, who was shot in an escape attempt in Berlin-Rosenthal. Her face is on the medal of this year's race, which is dedicated to her.
Sanaz (born in Iran): "Running this commemorative race with runners from all over the world to honour the victims of the wall and to celebrate German reunion has touched me deeply. It creates such a positive power for a more peaceful oneness-world. I want to thank the runners and organizers with all my heart!"
Switching to the older but lighter torch - which has been all the way up to Kilimanjaro! And making sure the transponder is properly fastened for official timing.
At VP 24 we are meeting Dr. Ronald Musil - the founder of the Mauerweglauf. He knows our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, like many of the Mauerweglauf e.V. long distance runners, including legendary Sigrid Eichner. And he was happy to hold the Peace Torch!
We did it! In 16 hours 26 minutes. It was an amazing, fantastic, inspiring experience for all of us. A great thank you to the organizers and over 400 volunteers!
Award ceremony - medals for everyone and a nice interview (on youtube: Siegerehrung 100 Meilen 2017 - Der Berliner Mauerweglauf im H4 Hotel - at 3:28:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B1GSiJhtmU)
Sri Chinmoy, founder of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run in 1987, running at the Reichstag building near the former border on a visit in 1985. He predicted that the Berlin Wall would come down within the next 20 years - but nobody expected it to happen in only a few years! Sometimes the wheels of history are moving fast!
After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Sri Chinmoy wrote a number of songs to honour this historic event. Here 3 examples:
"Berlin, Berlin, Berlin! / The mind’s division-wall / Is now the heart’s open door. / Oneness within, fulness without, / Victory’s lion-roar."
"Peace, peace, peace. / Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany! / I bow to your supremely blossomed heart-garden. / High have you lifted mankind’s blind and huge burden."
"Peace, peace, peace. / Ignorance-supremacy-torture-hunger-wall is down. / The soul of Germany has won the zenith-victory-crown."
- Sri Chinmoy