I love running in cities I’ve never been before – all those corners to turn, leading me into the heart of and off the edge of tourist maps.
Berlin is one of those places – pretty flat and interesting things to see particularly if you’re a fan of graffiti.
I started the first of my runs on a Sunday near Mauerpark Flohmarkt. If you don’t know it, you might of heard of the bear pit. The bear pit attracts huge crowds and features karaoke sessions, and on this particular day, an Aussie trying to escape a straightjacket. There was music and big crowds making it a real buzz to run through. I like the occasional run through crowds, particularly along Southbank in London on a bright Sunday morning. Good practice for big races I’ve been told.
From Mauerpark I headed down to the Berlin Wall memorial – pictures and videos of people jumping out of windows to get from East to West before the houses along the wall were fully sealed, tales of escape and death, very sobering. Near there is a guard tower and behind it a cemetery – I think a pretty old one. I kept going, heading around the cemetery and back to the park where the crowds were even bigger. A good run and I was getting a sense of the place. Or so I thought.
I made a little error on my second run – 4 miles, a loop from the apartment to the Reichstag and back, turned into 7 ½ when I found myself running off the (tourist) map which was slowly disintegrating in my back pocket. I stood at a street corner, looking a little lost. A kind runner stopped to give me directions – thankfully her English was a lot better than my German.
Berlin is a fascinating place to run. There’s no real centre like in other big cities – a legacy of the wall that divided it for so long. There’s a complex mixture of old and new and you can see the Berlin Fernsehturm (TV tower) from pretty much anywhere within a couple of miles of the centre. And the graffiti, another legacy of the Wall, provides great distraction when legs are a little tired but there’s still some way to go.
Ever been lost on a run? What’s your story?