May 29, 2013 by anelim
Well, this was a not particularly lengthy 5km!
I didn’t run out of breath, collapse of dehydration, tear a hamstring, break a knee, get lost in the Tiergarten, or anything gory like that. My knees, hips and lower back are complaining, but then they always are, and the rest of me seems pretty happy with the feat. As I am still getting back into basic fitness shape after a silly almost year-long hiatus from any sporting activity due to an unfortunate attempt at standing splits in May 2012, the 5x5km relay race which my institute joined today was indeed a small feat. (I also seem to have acquired a taste for germanly lengthy sentence structures). Running 5,000,000 mm of parkland wasn’t a piece of cake, but it was doable, and richly rewarded afterwards by plenty of pieces of homemade cake. Some of my colleagues are not just accomplished academics, but also marvellous chefs! That chocolate fondue…oh, and the meatballs… And the pasta salad… But yeah, I was writing about a race, wasn’t I?
The relay took place in Berlin’s famous Tiergarten (just behind the Bundestag and the Brandenburger Tor) in complete disregard of the rather soppy end-of-May weather. Pushkin’s Люблю грозу в начале мая, когда весенний первый гром etc.etc. kept swirling in my head. In the end our team was actually 4×5 and not 5×5 people. But 20 runners is still a pretty impressive number for such a small workplace. Our own organisers, as always, were amazing. F and M and S and the others just have a real talent for organising events of any kind, and coping with all the small and large responsibilities and ad hoc problems that come with event organisation (I know, I’ve organised some… after each event I swear it will be the last one, but it never is).
We had a tent, which was great because the weather turned sour at several points. This white palace, full of food and drink and insulated from the outside world by means of translucent bin bag plastic sheets and oodles of scotch tape, became the hub of social activity. It was a marvellously clever plot to get the weather to be so rainy and to squeeze all those shy academics and their family and friends into a 3x3m tent. We ended up having lots of conversations about (gasp!) research, but also other topics; eating, drinking, changing into and out of our running kit, shuffling around bags all in this smalls space (and out, on the grass, when it wasn’t raining). It was a very pleasant afternoon.
Sadly, the last, 5th batch of relayers had to run under pouring rain. I was secretly (now not secretly any more) relieved that I didn’t have to run under the rain… but as my dad always says, “you’re not made of sugar”, so surely even a bit of rain wouldn’t have melted my face.
We ran trough the Tiergarten in an atmosphere of corporate responsibility. Most other runners were from companies and businesses from high-end service sectors (finance, banking, NGO, healthcare, social services). It was fun to notice what kind of jobs they had and even learn a bit about the corporate and not-for-profit landscape of Berlin. Some of my favourite T-shirt slogans (which, obviously, overtook me whilst running, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed them) were:
Cooperativ lauft’s besser
Gut für Berlin (lots and lots of Sparkasse runners)
Wir bewegen Berlin
Habt ihr schon mal in Baden-Württemberg gewesen?
(though I may have misremembered or misspelt them)