Please help

Please help
Two young Afghani brothers are sent by their parents to Europe in search of a better life. Over 4000km …walking! Could I even cover that distance with my running in a year? No way! But via Run4Refugees Tom and I together are hoping to do it in less than six months. Your donations go straight to these two brothers and others like them in need. Please support us…and them!
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Refugee Relay

The spiral ramp ("Spindel")
The Spindellauf in Regensburg’s Donau Einkaufzentrum is a yearly race that takes place in and around one of the city’s shopping malls. The course is essentially a half marathon, 21 kilometers, and is run in 14 laps, through the upper and lower floors of the mall itself, then outside and up and down five stories in the spiral ramp to the parking lots. The race can be run alone or in a relay team of three runners.

As in the past two years, I would be running for the ArminWolf Running Team, this year on a mixed team with two men, Martin and Marco. Our Running Team had another mixed team in the race (the A Team…we were B), as well as a women’s team, a men’s team and two single starters. Our cheering squad was also packed with other team members, friends and family.

I LOVE this event! It is also great for spectators because they get to see people running by 14 times! There are bands and a bar …it takes place at night, the start is at 20:30, after the mall closes, so there is a distinct party atmosphere.

Happy Holly
But, as often happens in the winter, one of my relay team members, Marco, got sick the week before the race and we needed a replacement. Marco is a really fast runner. I was hoping for a spot on the podium but this news put that in question. So, Armin and I talked about the alternatives and decided the best solution for several reasons would be to fill the slot with one of the refugees of the Thomas-Wiser House Youth Home, which we had kind of taken under our wing. 

Ahmad would be our second man, a 16-year-old from Afghanistan. His athletic background is boxing but he is also a talented runner as he proved in the New Year’s Eve race in Sandharlanden with a 10km finish in 41 minutes. Plus, we thought his presence on the team with me would be a great idea in lieu of the Run4Refugees project, not to mention that Ahmad would totally have a great time!

But did we still have a chance for one of the top three slots??? That had now become more or less irrelevant. 

I offered to pick up Ahmad from the youth home and take him with me to the race. Mahamad was to come too, in case we needed a last minute replacement….and we did! As I was driving to the home I got a call from Armin saying that one of our single starters was sick and I should make sure Mahamad comes with his running gear ready! I gave Mahamad the news when I got to the home. His reaction, “Well, I’ve never run that far before, but I’ll give it a try!” 

Needless to say, driving in the car was a huge information exchange about how the race worked. Ahmad had never run a relay and the course was a little tricky. So once we got there I ran him through the course and answered all his questions as best I could. His German is not yet great and I was so happy that when he didn’t comprehend something completely he asked me again and again until he was sure he understood.

Celebratory run to the finish
Running at a full sprint through my favorite shopping mall is an incredible feeling. The shop windows flying by on one side and fans lining the course and screaming for their teammates on the other. It really pumps you up and the adrenaline is at a peak. Temperatures inside the mall were about 20C (70F) and outside about 5C (40F), so the single starters were dressed with hats and long sleeves, and the sprinters in the relay teams in shorts and tanks! Climbing the parking ramp is tough but it’s over before you know it and then you are rewarded with it’s downhill pull and a minute to catch your breath before the final push to the baton transfer. 
Mixed team winners (left to right: 3rd, 2nd, 1st)
So, how we do? After the very first lap it was clear that our A-Team was really in another league (the guys were a professional triathlete and a 2:30 marathoner, respectively). But, surprise, surprise!!! Who was in second place?!? We were! And that is where we stayed for the entire race, slowly gaining ground over the 3rd place team with every lap. We were thrilled! 
The entire Armin Wolf Running Team showed great results, with a strong presence on the podium. And Mahamad? Well, he not only finished his half marathon, but didn’t stop when he was over the finish line, running two extra laps! No one was quite sure if he didn’t realize that he was done or just was having too much fun to stop!
A great event as always!…and several days afterwards I got news that Ahmad and Mahamad talked constantly about the race and were rarely seen without their finisher T-shirts on. 

A win-win.

If you haven’t made your pledge yet to Run4Refugees, what are you waiting for? Tom and I are already running for refugees!

Youth Refugees and their "home mothers" from the Thoma-Wiser Haus, me and A.&A. Wolf