Does your family support your mission of achieving 1940 marathons by the age of 75?
Yes. I have three kids. All of them are sporty too, but none of them are involved with running. Two of them are famous rowers in Germany and another one has a black belt in Karate. In addition, I have friends from the running community who are supporting me.
Tell us about your running career. Where and when did it all begin?
I was young and living in East Germany. That was before East and West Germany were divided. I would usually look over the wall and see that the West Germans were having leisure runs in preparation for a marathon. That’s when I was inspired to run in a marathon, too.
Before joining my first marathon, I started with short distance running like 5km, 10km, and also did other sport activities like swimming, gymnastics and more. I started my marathon career when I was 40 years old, in 1980, in an event at VVW in Eastern Europe. As of today, I have run 1936 marathons in total; 750 out of the total marathons participated in were Long Distance Outdoor Marathons and the remaining included Ultra Marathons and Normal Marathons. The Ultra Marathon races could range up to 100km in which I would take 24 hours, sometimes 48 hours or so to complete. I am now listed as the No. 2 runner in the “World Mega Marathons Ranking”, according to 2014 report by Global Authority in Japan. I am also a member of Jagaball—a club that can only be entered by members who have completed 100 marathons and above.
How do you choose your races?
My idea was to travel to many countries. So as I travelled, I would make it a point to join a marathon. It is my first time visiting Malaysia and that’s why I chose to participate in the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. I have been running in 42 countries so far, including the USA, China, Europe, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland and more. Some of the runs were by invitation and some were just open invitations.
Of all the marathons you did, which is your favorite?
Berlin Marathon. I participated in the race for 18 times.
What training regimen and diet plan do you follow?
In my fitness training, I run and focus more on mental than physical training. My mind tells me what I feel on the fitness level. As I grow older, I don’t train as much and would just join marathons for fun.
Previously, I took marathons seriously. My pre-training diet was controlling on wheat-based food and eating a lot of vegetables and not so much meat. When I run in normal marathons, I don’t eat but only drink. If I participate in a long distance run, which is more than 100km, I would still need some fluids like porridge oat, which would be given along the route in ultra runs. Right after I complete the race, I would need solid food like poultry or meat. At times, I like drinking beer during a long distance run. For example, during my run in Berlin Marathon, I would sip beer as it quenches the thirst and keeps the calories.
As for recovery after a marathon, I would drink beer, have a long shower to freshen up, and rest by sleeping early. If there is any massage available, I would go for it. The day after the run, I would look for something nice to eat such as meat, fish, or something sweet like pudding or fruits.
When I’m not running, I have no special diet but just practice a healthy lifestyle by controlling wheat-based foods, cook food using olive oil, eat a lot of eggs, potatoes, yogurt, vegetables, rice and noodles.