How did the “1940” running mission come about?
A brief background on the reason I started running in marathons was back in Eastern Germany, where it was a culture for people to push themselves and others to improve and be better. They challenged one another through a race called “Mild Challenge” in a festival, which later became a weekly affair for the people in the city. Hence, the race has become competitive for everyone to participate, as they will get certificates in the end.
As for me, I participated in the “Mild Challenge” to get the certs and to be away from the German Government that was pressuring at that time. From there, I started to count races when East and West Germany got together. I saw people counting their races, so I followed the trend. That’s when I had the idea of completing 2000 marathons. Due to my age and logistics matters, I wouldn’t be able to make it in time. I was born in 1940, so I focus on completing 1940 marathons by my 75th birthday.
What keeps you busy now?
After the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015, it would be the Forest Marathon on 17th October 2015 and a road marathon on 18th October 2015 in Germany.
What keeps you wanting to run more marathons?
As long as I can run, I will run and feel happy about it, because naturally, I have no intention at all to win in a marathon as I only participate for leisure purposes. I feel that the longer I run, the closer I am to reaching the finish line. Hence, I get the full satisfaction when I cross the finish line. That’s what motivates me.
Why is it important to accomplish this running mission?
It is for me to feel a sense of achievement. Participating in marathons makes me see running as a community event, and I am having fun participating and running without any sense of competition.
What are some tips you can offer to the current generation of runners?
Running is a natural movement. Just like walking. Either you walk at a normal pace or you walk faster. Running gradually improves from doing short to long distances. I have been running at a gradual speed constantly in marathons and that allows me to gauge my speed or sprint during the run. When I run, I focus on my mind and senses instead of my physical body that feels the exhaustion. Usually I will sense through the ligaments, which tell me how much further I can go. Mentally, whenever I’m in long marathons, I think of everything but nothing. In a sense, the longer you run, the closer you are to arriving at the finish line and it’s normal that your mind leads towards thinking on many other things like work, personal life, and problems, but these are unnecessary thoughts that make you lose your focus. Therefore, I just keep running and stay focused on arriving at the finish line. Nowadays, the moment I run with other runners who are at an amateur level, I realize that since the first time I started running till today, I have been running so many marathons that it made my speed and duration better, and I can still tag along at the same speed of young runners.
How would you like to be remembered?
I may be an iconic runner, but I have always felt like a normal runner. Nowadays when I run, I feel inspired to run for fun with the young community whenever I participate in a marathon, because sometimes the runners will be looking up to me as an old person who still can run in marathons.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
No. Running is a natural movement and you can always improve gradually on the speed and distance. When I run, I depend on my mind to remain focus instead of on my body to keep running.
What is the next step after accomplishing your goal?
I will keep running for fun. I feel that as long as I can run, I will run.
Photo credits: www.transeuropalauf.de // www.maratonadiroma.it // www.bz-berlin.de // www.berliner-kurier.de // www.bild.de