Hawaii has the Ironman World Championship - Berlin has the BerlinMan. Since 1992, the middle distance triathlon has been held in Strandbad Wannsee and Grunewald. A total of 2.2 kilometers of swimming, 90 kilometers on the bike and a 20-kilometer course have to be completed by the participants. On September 1st and 2nd, 2018, the BerlinMan will take place for the 14th time. Organizers are the space joggers Berlin e. V. Berlin's largest triathlon club was founded by students in the late 1980s. Spontaneously they called themselves after a computer game. It has remained until today. Oliver Büttel, Chairman of the Space Jogger Berlin e.V. and President of the Berlin Triathlon Union (BTU) on the special features and highlights of the BerlinMan - and why (almost) anyone can participate.
Mr. Büttel, what makes BerlinMan typical Berlin?
The special feature of the BerlinMan and at the same time typical of the city is that basically everyone can participate. We offer three formats on two days of competition: a beginner's triathlon, with only 700 meters to swim, 24 kilometers of cycling and five kilometers to run, a MiniMan for schoolchildren and, as a highlight, the middle distance on Sunday a total of 2.2 kilometers of swimming, 90 kilometers on the bike and 20 kilometers running distance have to be mastered. There are only a few vertical meters and the running track in Grunewald offers the athletes plenty of shade even at high temperatures.
For spectators: What are the highlights of the track?
A highlight is certainly the start in the listed Strandbad Wannsee, which is one of the most beautiful and famous swimming pools in Berlin. The cycle route leads over the Havelchaussee. This was in 1987 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Berlin even part of the prologue route of the Tour de France. Their highest point, the Karlsberg with the Grunewald Tower, also called "Willi" among cyclists, has to be overcome four times at the BerlinMan. It has about 80 meters in altitude. Another highlight of the BerlinMan is that it takes place completely in Berlin. Organizationally, this is not so easy to do. One of the reasons why we organize the event only every two years.
Ironman - BerlinMan: Where is the difference?
Ironman is now a protected brand, under whose roof, triathlon competitions are professionally organized over different distances. Behind it stands a big, international financial service. The BerlinMan is designed by space joggers exclusively with volunteers. In that sense, the atmosphere is much more familiar than at the Ironman events. People know each other, because most of the starters come from the region. Especially since the BerlinMan simultaneously the Berlin-Brandenburg Championship will be held.
How many helpers are there this year?
About 200. Below are many Space Jogger club members. But also in this year numerous Berliners are volunteering. It's always great how much support we get from the people of Berlin!
The space joggers organize the BerlinMan as the city's biggest triathlon club since 1992. How did that happen?
In 1989 we organized the first Volkstriathlon in Berlin. Hajo Tischer, then chairman of the space joggers and I watched the long distance race in Roth in 1991 and returned enthusiastically. We decided: We'll do that in Berlin! However, we quickly realized that the organization of a long distance with a total of 3.8 kilometers of swimming, a 180 kilometer long bike course and 42.2 kilometers running track in what was then West Berlin could not be realized. Instead, in 1992 we organized the first BerlinMan triathlon as a middle distance. There were 300 participants at the start, 280 men and 20 women. In the human triathlon there were 287 men and 70 women. Today, the numbers have almost doubled since then. One of the reasons is that triathlon has become a trend sport in recent years with prominent driving horses such as the German Ironman Hawaii winners Jan Frodeno, Patrick Lange and Sebastian Kienle.
Is Berlin a good triathlon location?
With the European Athletics Championships as a highlight in 2018, Berlin, as a city of sports, has had an extreme tailwind and has sold very well as a sports venue. Next year, as part of the newly created "Finals - Berlin 2019" for the first time, the German Champions are determined over the triathlon sprint distance in the city. In addition, in the context of the event in Strandbad Wannsee and around the Olympic Stadium, a Jedermann Triathlon will take place to bring together professional and amateur sports. In short: The city of Berlin supports the triathlon, which we also feel in the organization of the BerlinMan. The cooperation with the authorities and the police is very easy.
What do you value most about Berlin?
Everything is possible in Berlin! Whether you are dressed in a jersey and cycling shorts or wearing a swimming trunks dressed in a swimming trunks - the Berliners are the perfect "wumpe". You do not notice. I still like that in our city: she is just unruffled.
Berlin has a very special significance for me. In 1999 I did my first Volkstriathlon here. And the BerlinMan is still a highlight in the competition calendar for me. Wherever I go in the world, the Berlin bear accompanies me as a lucky charm on the trikot.
Nils Frommhold, two-time Ironman winner (Arizona 2012, South Africa 2014), 6th place at the Ironman Hawaii 2014 and winner Challenge Roth 2015, born in Berlin