It’s a special today but it was slightly overcast, a bit wet and Anita mentioned that she thought about staying in bed. We think she made the right choice running this morning because it was a special day. A day to mark the time when two old countries became one, where people were once again united. It’s a national holiday- Tag der Deutschen Einheit or German Unity day - celebrating and commemorating the anniversary of German reunification in 1990.
We also celebrated another special day yesterday too, parkrun’s 15th birthday. Fifteen years of parkrun and fifteen years of bringing people together. Whether you walk, run, jog, volunteer or just support someone who does, parkrun has built a global family. So it’s really apt that as I looked around during the run briefing by Johannes, I saw lots of faces that seemed familiar from pictures on the Internet and some that weren’t, many voices I thought I recognised and some I didn’t. The thing is, parkrun does bring people together, it creates opportunities for us to talk, share stories and enjoy the moment.
So it’s a testament to this amazing Hasenheide parkrun that despite it being damp and wet this morning, 145 people came along and got social.
And that’s what I love about parkrun. You can travel, in some cases, hundreds of miles and you get the same welcome wherever you go. You’re part of that parkrun family and there’s no escaping that. And it means that if you get the opportunity - and the days off work - you can celebrate a national day with friends old and new. That’s why I always take my hat off to those who travel and do the tourist thing - you’ll spot their yellow, black and white ‘Cowell’ - and celebrate their commitment to supporting parkruns around the world. I spotted Poole and Beeston in the crowd but there are too many to mention. But I do have to give a big mention to Dave who runs at Beeston and continued my sequence of always seeing someone from Nottingham at Hasenheide.
It was my fourth visit to Hasenheide but my obsession with the city of Berlin stretches back to an old compass, carved from walnut with an enamelled picture of the Brandenburg gates. It was from the early 1970s and hung in my bedroom as a child on a leather strap. My father gave it to me as a gift after a visit to Berlin My uncle was also stationed in Germany and Berlin in the late sixties and early-1970s. It was a thing I loved although sadly lost. My teenage years meant Berlin was represented by what I saw on TV but also Bowie, Depeche Mode and the sound of German bands, with the nineties were dominated by U2, a band I saw on my last visit to Hasenheide. I’ve visited lots of times but what I associate with Berlin most now is Hasenheide parkrun. It’s where I always feel very happy and have provided me with numerous memories each time I have run it. I also follow Hasenheide parkrun closely, it being my favourite parkrun and all that. Just walking towards the start on a quiet wet Thursday and hearing the buzz of people talking filled me with excitement and emotion.
So what do I love about it? It’s the welcome they give, usually from the volunteers. Today Hasenheide parkrun happened because of 11 of these wonderful volunteers including Achim, Aleks, Andy, Britta, Cornie, Eleonóra, Johannes, Jordan, Matthew, Susan and Ulrike. A big thank you to Grit and Andy for everything they do to make Hasenheide one of the friendliest parkruns in the parkrun universe, and to Johannes for the amazing welcome he gave everybody today. And that’s it. No matter where you come from the local runners and volunteers here always make time to talk, just like Teresa from Melbourne who offered to take a photo and also had a chat. I also love the park, the course and that hill, the smells too.
Of the 145 finishers today, 12 people ran their first-ever parkrun. Well done on joining the family to Aina, Alex, Elena Chepil, Felix, Kathrin, Markus, Michael, Nikolas, Richard, Stewart, and Tom. Also well done to the first finishers today - Aarno and Gesa. That was Aarno’s second parkrun ever and he bagged a first finish too! There were 21 personal bests and Aarno and Karen both achieved top age-age ratings for this morning’s run.
There was a milestone this morning and I, for one, think he kept it a bit quiet! Well done Danny on achieving your 300th parkrun on a wet Thursday in Berlin. It certainly brightened up the day.
Also have to mention the guy who was the first finisher in the VM-50-55 category. It’s his second at Hasenheide despite his declining form.
And there were a few visitors running Hasenheide for the first time too! Just a few! That’s 59 people experiencing the magic of Hasenheide and that hill. Lots of visitors from the UK, resplendent in their apricot and milestone shirts and two amazing guys from Poznan parkrun, Zbigniew and Rajmumd, who I did the “Poznan” with.
And there it. On National Unity Day in Germany, we came together and did a parkrun together. At a time, when there is lots of division in the world, it’s good to know that Tag der Deutschen Einheit could bring us together and we could parkrun at one of the best parkruns there is.
Thank you to all the volunteers for an amazing morning. I don’t know if I’m coming back again to Hasenheide but I hope I do. It’s got a real place in my heart and memories of running with my mate Adrian. I’m off to Poland tomorrow and I hope to see Andrew and Paul from Kent there too. Two new mates made because I ran a parkrun in Berlin on a wet Thursday in October. You can’t beat it, you can’t make it up. #loveparkrun
** Photos from today are available at: