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Features METRO Marathon Düsseldorf

11 July 2012, 2pm

“Let’s just start something” was the simple sentiment behind the roll-out of the marathon in Düsseldorf 10 years ago. It began as something small but has grown steadily since.

Diversity in unity

by Julia Ehrich

METRO GROUP Marathon Düsseldorf
Sun 29 April 2012

Today it is one of the main running events in Germany, with about 14,000 participants, 4000 of them marathon runners, hailing from 76 nations. It is now a permanent fixture on the international marathon scene, having attained the IAAF Bronze Label in 2010.

Düsseldorf means “fascinating diversity.” A blend of Rhineland charm and luxurious elegance gives the metropolis an irresistible allure. Düsseldorf has been lauded as one of the world’s most attractive cities by quality of life. Many international companies operate here and the diversity is also underwritten by the art world, architecture, and the many fashion icons who call this town their home.

It is easy to get here, because the international airport is only a 15-minute drive from the heart of the city, and the airport connects to 180 destinations around the globe. Düsseldorf’s central position in Europe makes it a point of departure for discovery tours of Europe. As both a metropolitan and international locale, Düsseldorf presents itself as an ideal venue to stage a Marathon. The METRO GROUP Marathon Düsseldorf also includes a mini marathon for children and one of the largest company relay runs in Europe.

On 29 April the metropolis on the Rhine transformed itself into a runners’ paradise for the 10th consecutive time. One of those who have run all 10 editions, Jürgen Kreuzer, explains “Our marathon offers three great advantages: a fast and interesting course, enthusiastic spectators – the carnival is held in May – and a panoramic view at the finish line of the Rhine, castle square and the palace tower”. He is right: the route is a veritable sightseeing run, but it is also very fast because of the few and easy gradients, leading to many runners, amateurs as well as top international athletes, improving their best times.

Enjoying perfect running weather conditions, Ethiopian Seboka Tola set a new course record of 2:08:27 this year, while Kenyan Agnes Jeruto lowered the women’s record to 2:25:49. Anna Hahner, just 23, delivered the greatest surprise by only missing the German Olympic qualifying standard by 14 seconds. Japanese athlete Yuki Kawauchi traveled to Düsseldorf and received a rapturous reception from spectators – Düsseldorf has the third largest Japanese community in Europe and they were very happy to have a runner from home in the race, raising the level of excitement along the course.

The Marathon starts at the Rhine Embankment, where for two days preceding the event the Marathon-EXPO and race registration takes place. Starting parallel to the River, runners pass fairgrounds, the concert complex “Tonhalle”, and then cross the Rhine using the Oberkassel Bridge and entering “Little Tokyo.”
Reaching the far part of the course runners have already tackled the two biggest inclines of the course. With the support of several Samba groups and the encouraging screams of hundreds of thousands of spectators along the road, they run on…

Past the Jägerhof Palace, nestling into the picturesque Palace Garden, past the port featuring buildings by Frank O. Gehry and past the “Königsallee” shopping mile. Everywhere along the route Rhinelanders look forward to their 42km long party in the metropolis. Hot spots feature self-organized parties, where they support the runners by drumming and screaming, forcing them on towards the finish line.

The climax of the METRO GROUP Marathon Düsseldorf is a one-of-a-kind sight. To one side runners see the promenade, while the Rhine River is to the other. Behind them is a panoramic view of the Rhine Tower and Media Port, while in front of them lies the historic Palace Tower and views across the Rhine to Oberkassel.

Runners are offered refreshments every 2.5km along the route, and once they cross the finish line they will find everything they need to replenish: refreshments, massage services and showers. Once they have recharged their batteries, they can look forward to enjoying the After Run Party and end the day on a high note with a traditional cool dark beer to celebrate their achievement.

Teambuilding, team play and the sense of having achieved something as a result of collaboration – these are the fundamentals of the METRO GROUP Marathon Düsseldorf corporate relay. About 2200 relay teams participated in the event this year. Four runners split the marathon distance between them and experience a sense of “we” all the way.
Düsseldorf is home to many businesses, and participation in the company relay has already become a tradition for many. Relay places, to run sections of between 8–16km, are in high demand and have to be reserved early. The teams cheer a lot and celebrate both in their own post-finish zone or at one of the company tents in the meet & greet area. The Rhine Promenade turns into a tent city on race day.

Düsseldorf also offers an event for children and families. The Stadtsparkasse Kids Cup gives children a chance to get their first taste of running, on a 4.2km route. Just like the grown-ups they begin their run on the Joseph-Beuys-Bank and head through the old town to reach the children’s finish line on the Rhine. Family entertainment was later offered on Apollo Square, with a great view of the final part of the route. Kids were perfectly positioned to cheer for their parents or to work off some more energy while jumping around on the bungee trampoline.

After a successful 10th anniversary celebration race organizers and residents of the Rhineland are looking forward to welcoming runners from all over the world to Düsseldorf on 28 April 2013.

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