We bumped into our first fellow tourists in the lobby of our hotel, they were on their way to breakfast and then a simple underground trip to Hasenheide, we decided to run/walk the three miles. We have a limited amount of time in Berlin and I didn't want to spend too much time underground! Berlin is very flat and we were looking forward to a welcome change from our regular Alice Holt hills.
As we entered the park we noted that it wasn't quite a pancake flat as the rest of Berlin, but the undulations were gradual.
The park has some interesting associations, one of which I will mention later, but it was where the German gymnastic movement, headed by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn began when he opened to first gymnasium in Prussia - there is a monument to him by the north entrance to the park. It is still popular with athletes today - there are a state park, a roller hockey court and baseball courts, there are wide open spaces for informal games of football. I also spotted a small zoo and a dog exercise area along with a rose garden. The park's name originates from 1678 and its use as a rabbit warren where the Great Elector came to hunt poor little fluffy bunnies. It fell into disrepair/disuse but was rebuild for the Olympic Games by the National Socialists in 1936.
The run briefing started shortly before 9am, splitting into an English and a German version. Most of the runners seemed to be tourists, but probably a quarter were locals. I won't lie, the course sounded incredibly complicated (even though I'd looked at the map on the course page of the parkrun site) so I decided to just follow whoever was in front of me and hope for the best. There was also mention of a hill! On the start line a man asked me where my 'normal' parkrun was - turns out he thought he recognised me from Basingstoke - but wasn't sure because he hadn't seen me for ages, which is my fault because I've been running at Alice Holt or gadding about all over the country.
The course, not as complicated as it sounded is 2 and a bit laps of the park. The 'and a bit' is the interesting bit! Most/all of the course is on tarmac or hardpacked gravel, and has some very gentle slopes. There were lots of other people using the park - walking dogs, cycling, running but not parkrunning (why?) the marshals warned where positioned at key points to ensure that we were all safe and didn't go the wrong way!
Part way through the second lap you get to do the 'and a bit' park! We were told that this was up the hill. It was quite interesting in that you run up the hill, go round it at the top and rejoin the main path before you left it (if that makes sense). But what makes the hill really interesting (and which I only found out later when I thought about writing this blog) is its history. It is a man made hill. It is a 69 meter high 'pile of rubble' called Rixdorfe Höhe which was made from 700,000m2of rubble from the Second World War. It is now landscaped, but it was build as a memorial to the 'debris women' but Katherine Szelinski-Singer in 1955 and commemorates the cleaning up work that was done, primarily by women, after the war.
That hill is short, but steep! I had no idea how long it was going to go on for as it winds around in such a way that you can't see the top until you get there, so I didn't push it too hard! I was happy with my time (25.40) and position, 5th woman and 1st in my age category. After we'd had our bar codes scanned we pootled off to Cafe Blume, just outside the park to wait for it to open (at 10am) for coffee. Several tables inside were reserved for parkrun and it was lovely to chat to other tourists from the UK and get to know the locals. The coffee there was good and the cakes, especially the cheese cakes, looked awesome.
Thank you to all the volunteers for an excellent parkrun!