The Rewe Team Challenge 2015 in Dresden: 13.500 runners run five kilometers through the middle of Dresden’s City Center with the goal Dynamo Stadium. At the beginning of June four teams from ibis Dresden Zentrum were again at the starting line at Dresden’s Altmarkt.
Marcel from the „Speedteam ibis“ reports on the Rewe Team Challenge
We met beforehand in front of the Willy Vanilli Ice Cream Shop at Dresden’s Arnoldbad near the Dynamo Stadium, now our long-standing traditional meeting place. A quick photo-shoot in front of our favourite tree, followed by a social stroll to Dresden’s Altmarkt. The calm before the storm: everyone is joking around, looking forward to the race, each perhaps a little excited, like racing horses in the box…
15 minutes to go. We are allowed into the fenced-off starting area. The moderators entertain the crowd from the stage. Who will lead the warm-up session this year? For the previous year’s races, the trainers from Thomas Sport Center warmed up the runners with funny „jumping exercises“. This year everyone is responsible for their own warm-up. It’s actually a pity. But anyway, we only have 5 minutes left.
The crowd of 4500 participants, many of which are wearing hilarious costumes, slowly moves closer to the starting line. Our team slowly becomes quieter, the concentration beginns. A quick glance to the giant LED-screen beside the stage. The Countdown begins: 3, 2, 1, GO!………but “GO!” doesn’t mean you can start running immediately. We crossed the starting line 4 minutes after the start. The entire crowd of runners first has to flow over the line bit by bit, like a giant snake.
On the stretch through Dresden’s Old Town
This stretch goes from Altmarkt towards Postplatz. Cheering supporters line the edges of the track. Already before Postplatz the first two runners are overtaken. They started slow and steady, as you should. Because whoever already has a stitch at the Semperoper, has not played their cards well. But I won’t let that happen to me this year! Past the world famous Opera House, through Theaterplatz Square, down towards the Elbe River, and along a long straight beside the Brühlschen Terrace by the river. Luckily there is a group of drummers there, who get our legs moving to a good beat and rhythm. The 1 kilometer mark seems to take a long time to reach and you think „Why am I torturing myself again this year?“. But I don’t stop.
It’s already getting warm. Well, I realise now that cycling was not the best training for running. From the river bank terraces there is a sharp turn to the right onto Rietschelstraße, straight through the suburb. Residents stand on the streets, shouting, cheering, whistling or trumpeting. A group of children stand in a row on the street and pat the runners on the back as they go past. Very motivating. At the crossing Pillnitzer Straße stands the next group of drummers. Another motivating push, because my legs don’t seem to be getting any lighter. Was this street always this long? And why do I suddenly have a stitch? That shouldn’t actually be happening to me this year. Whatever, just keep running. Don’t stop and don’t slow down. That wouldn’t be such a glorious finish.
When will I finally cross the next kilometer mark? It felt like I crossed the second one an age ago – but then one of the runners shouts out: „There is the mark! Only 2 kilometers to go!“ Which mark? I saw nothing. Is this psychological warfare? At least my stitch is dying off, because I’m trying to control my breathing, now successfully. I approach the drinks stand. A horde of runners turn off at the long row of tables and try to pick up a cup while running. Some are lucky and tip the cool water over their hot heads. However others are not so coordinated and drop the cups, which then catapult toward the water crew. Those poor volunteers. That probably was not in the job description. But before I can think any more about this, I regain my concentration, because I notice that my breathing needs to be more controlled again.
Through the Großen Park
From Blüherstraße to the Lingnerallee, a small lap of honour towards Großen Garten and then back onto Blüherstraße. A car on the side of the track is blaring terrible pop music. I have the sudden urge to stop and switch it off. We continue toward Parkstraße, past Dynamostadion on the left hand side. The goal is within reach. But why is this last stretch taking so long? Finally: there in front of us I see the last kilometer mark. The 4 km mark appears marking the beginning of the final spurt. Left into Parkstraße towards Lennéplatz.
As always there is a lot of dust in the air, because the 4500 runners are stampeding, well, some are almost now crawling, over a dusty, unpaved park track. I wonder if we have arrived in the Sahara. It feels as though we have run that kind of distance. So I begin to breathe less deeply, to prevent too much dust entering my already stressed lungs. I know that we have almost reached the last bend before we will enter the Stadium – over the sacred lawn to the end line.
At the end line
I need to stay concentrated until the end, because I know that is where a camera is positioned. Every finisher is filmed and then uploaded online later. My aesthetics may have suffered in the last 4.9 kilometers, but over these last 100 meters I give it all: chest out, belly in, face relaxed but still focused – heroic as if I had just finished a Marathon. Bam – finished – done! At our agreed meeting point, at Block R, also now a long-standing tradition, I meet with the other teams from the hotel. No one was left behind. All found their way to the Stadium, more or less unharmed, all happy and excited. Apparently our hotel director also watched us cross the finishing line. I wonder if he will run with us one day? Many thanks for the lovely evening. Next year we will all be back again. Maybe our our training plan will work better this time.