The Firmenlauf, or company run, is a 5,5km run around the Tiergarten area in Berlin, open to companies to sign up for. I hadn’t done a race since I was a teenager, so when the sign up sheet was published in our company, I decided to go for it. I picked up a number, T-shirt and tracker chip and was ready to go. On the day of the race weather had turned. After a couple of beautiful September days, there was now rain in the forecast and with it the complaints from other participants started flooding in on Slack. Once again I was surprised by the negativity of people.
Because of COVID there were stricter rules at the race and you couldn’t leave your bags anywhere this year. That meant that you had to run with everything you carried. It was raining lightly as we all gathered near the Brandenburger Tor and I’d left my umbrella behind so I wouldn’t have to run with it. Slowly our group of people in bright pink T-shirts grew and we checked in at the event area. It still took quite some time before the race began, but luckily it didn’t rain anymore. It wasn’t very warm though and I tried to keep warm bouncing on the music.
We were summoned to the start and there was some entertainment in the form of waves and shouting competitions until the countdown started. First the skaters left, but not long after it was our time to shine. About 5000 competitors left the gate. The real serious runners were pushing through the crowd to get ahead, but I decided to calmly zigzag through while finding my pace. It was humid and the streets were full of puddles, but now we were running nobody cared anymore. Several people got off to a quick start and regretted it already after 2km, falling behind quickly. I had no idea if I had started too fast and if I could keep my pace, but I tried.
When I saw the Siegessäule in the distance I thought we were nearly there. However, it seemed deceptively close, a long straight street ahead of me. I kept my pace until the column and then picked it up. On the last 1,5km I stepped on the gas. It was a straight road, with the finish constantly in sight, but again further away than it looked. But when the finish is in sight, you somehow get more motivated to get there. So I ran past all the people who hadn’t conserved their energy, ran past athletic looking guys that should have been faster than me. I crossed the finish line after 27 minutes and 10 seconds. I was pretty impressed with that.
Afterwards I found some others wearing pink T-shirts and checked in with them how their race had gone. But we couldn’t stay long. Soon, the forecasted rain came down in buckets. It was flooding the streets and there was no way to stay dry on the terrain. It was a shame, since they’d set up some bars and stands, but now everyone went home instead of celebrating. After my bike ride home I was so wet that I created puddles on the floor and after 3 days my shoes were still not dry. But once you’re home, it doesn’t matter anymore. A warm shower, hot drink and blanket fixed all of it. It was really cool to be part of a big event again, finally sharing experiences after so much time of “stay at home”.