From the forest to the city – the history of the Generalprobe
This is how it all began
In 1984, three years after the highlight of the year—the BERLIN-MARATHON—moved from the Grunewald Forest to the city to begin its triumphant march to become one of the biggest and most spectacular endurance events in the world, an idea for a new event arose. “How about offering the marathon runners an official dress rehearsal for the classic event?
Without further ado, an existing 15-km “people’s run” through the Grunewald Forest was edited to become a half marathon. “Build excitement” and “test your form” was the motto. Start and finish were in the historic Mommsen Stadium: the hub of many running clubs, home of the SCC club office and already event-proven thanks to the annual Berlin New Year’s Eve Run. Most of the course led along the legendary “Krone” (Kronprinzessinnenweg) at the edge of the forest.
The 7-km-long course, today a favourite for cyclists, inline skaters and runners, was an ideal opportunity to compare your fitness, as there were two opportunities to size up your competitors with a turnaround point shortly before the Havelchaussee.
Starting area at Mommsenstadion in 2007
A shady existence in the Grunewald
Then nothing exciting happened for many years. At a time when more and more events were moving to the city, the event, now officially called the Berlin Road Run, remained in the forest. It enjoyed a slowly growing fan base and attracted runners with its authentic late summer “folk run” ambience.
Running legend Ingo Sensburg won it the first few years in a row, while distances of 10 km and 5 km attracted families and amateur runners. Between 2,000 and 3,000 athletes participated each year.
Growing with leaps and bounds
After a well-known sporting goods manufacturer was won for the title sponsorship in 2009, the “dress rehearsal” also managed to make the move into the city. While it did not end up in the middle of the city centre with all of its impressive buildings, it landed exactly where authentic Berlin lives and resides.
A 10K loop through the traditional residential districts of Steglitz, Zehlendorf and Wilmersdorf creates a special attraction. You can get your goosebump moments under the Brandenburg Gate at the BERLIN MARATHON four weeks later.
The dress rehearsal offers more relaxed urban running. But the leap into the city was a success. Registration numbers experienced new highs, reaching marks just over 6,000. The event centre with its start and finish on Schossstrasse wandered around a few times. But the iconic milestones Bierpinsel and Steglitzer Kreisel—neither of which are exceptional examples of beautiful Berlin architecture—remained permanent fixtures and always in view.
Jan Sosniok did not put on an act at his joyful finish
Celebrities at the “Dress Rehearsal”
The fact that celebrities also live (and run) in Berlin could be experienced first-hand when Jan Sosniok (actor) and Volker Schlöndorff (director of “The Tin Drum” / Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film” 1980) took part.
Volker Schlöndorff relaxed at the finish line of his neighborhood run
Like numerous other events, the Berlin Road Race had to contend with the COVID pandemic. After the cancellations in 2020 and 2021, there was a promising new start the following year. Good ideas and attractive offers for the coming years will certainly help this traditional Berlin event grow back to its former greatness. The SCC EVENTS organisation team is looking forward to many new participants and relaxed urban running in the middle of the city.
The Berlin Road Race 2022 on its way into the future