Women's Race Berlin 2022 on 14 May 2022

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Unusual Marathon Victory

The double victory of the Bochröders at the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON 1975


20 Years Womens Run – 30 Years BERLIN-MARATHON – 40 Years Berlin Cross Country Run
Part 3 of our look into the “history box“ of the development of running in Berlin

On September 28, 1975 at the 2nd BERLIN PEOPLES MARATHON, as the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON was still called in the first two years, there was a very unusual constellation of winners.

The winner of the womens race was named Bochröder—and the winner of the mens race was a Bochröder, as well. Not just a coincidence of names, but even more unusual – a married couple.

The statistics headline in the results lists from 1975 reads:

Turning point course, 2 rounds, start and finish in SCC Mommsen Stadium Weather: 18° C, strong wind – starting time 9:00 a.m. 325 registered runners from 4 nations – 235 athletes across the finish (including 4 women)

In contrast to the year before (1974), the starting line was not at Waldschulallee 80, but inside the Mommsen Stadium. The finished was moved into the stadium as well, rather than in front of the stadium.

The first thing one finds out from the womens champion from 1975: “I have to correct two mistakes that have held up for 28 years—my name is “Kristin“ with a “K“ (from the Scandinavian) and never in my life have been a member of a club (also not in OSC, as was listed in the results!). Kristin Bochröder (b. May 6, 1941) – not in any sport club – and senior judicial officer at the district court of Schöneberg – was an “atypical case“, as she says herself.

Yet she is a kind of “forerunner“ for the slowly but surely growing success of womens running in Germany. In 1974, she participated in a group trip initiated by Manfred Steffny, who supposedly said, “In Boston, the grandmas run with their grandchildren in 3.5 hours,“ and was sure that she would be able to make it in Boston. But qualifying times that Kristin obviously did not have were necessary to run in Boston, She submitted a 25 km “estimated time“ instead. Of the 42 women runners participating in Boston in 1974, “she was the only “Gesundheitsläufer“, or person running for her health,“ finishing in 4:28:00. Christa Vahlensieck (then Kofferschläger) was second in 2:53:00. In preparation, Kristin ran at most 10km three times a week—and two hours very slowly. “I can survive that longer“ was her motto. In Boston she “flew through the half marathon point, and then come to a still stand!“ Days later, she still went down the stairs backwards.

Her husband Ralf continued telling the Boston story—he waited at the finish (following his race) for a long time, until he got scared and went to the judges. They calmed him down—and back at the hotel he found Kristin asleep in her bed.

In October 1974 she participated in the marathon in Athens (a total of 700 participants) with a time of 4:48:00—it was the first time that women participated in Athen. That was so unusual that motorised police escorted the few women runners into the stadium.

It was her husband who enthused her to begin running for her health. Before she ran the 2nd BERLIN MARATHON, she started in May 1975 in Wolfsburg –with walking pauses—and ran 3:55:00.

The four women did not stand out at all among the 325 runners in Berlin 1975 at the start of the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON. No one ran ahead of her, no one behind her – “I had no idea of where I stood in the race“ – until just before she reached the stadium someone called out to her that she was the first woman. She had side cramps and with the warm weather had only wanted to finish with a time under four hours. In 3:59:15 she made it barely, but brilliantly.

She says that she was not a natural athlete. As a child she lay for a year in a hospital and then a year at home in bed with tuberculosis. She started from zero after that, rebuilding her health and body, and can truly be considered an example of how one can reach worthy goals through sport and optimism.

Of a total of 9 marathons, she achieved her best time of 3:20:00 in 1978 in Neuf Brisach. In 1980 her son Alexander was born. She still has nothing to do with sports clubs—and she doesn participate in any races anymore. She now plays more piano than she runs. Her words of wisdom to todays women are: “Run slowly and enjoy it!“

Here are the four women who crossed the finish at the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON 1975:
1. Kristin Bochröder (no sport club) (124th) 3:59:15
2. Elfriede Kayser (Helios) (160th) 4:26:05
3. Astrid Ziezold (Helios) (181th) 4:39:24
4. Lieselotte Steglich (SCC) (199th) 4:56:30

On the contrary, her husband, Ralf Bochröder (b. July 8, 1940) (OSC), male winner of the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON 1975 in 2:47:08, had the athletic and sport club basis for his success. He was a teacher for sport and math until 1999, as a youth was a sprinter, then ran the middle-length races (including 800 m in 1:55.00; 1500 m in 4:07.00), was injured and then turned to “longer things“, especially by participating in numerous peoples races both in Germany and internationally.

He competed in 5 marathon races, but also suffered new knee problems. He ran together with Kristin (with “K“) in Boston (3:05:00), in Wolfsburg (2:52:00), in Berlin and in 1978 in Neuf-Brisach (2:55:00).

He remembers that it suddenly became warm during the race in Berlin. The sudden change in weather caused the runners to fall like flies. He himself had muscle cramps underway and walked a bit (he took some salt powder with water and felt better); the last 17 km he ran at the forefront, and no one else was in sight.

Ralf Bochröder, the surprise victor from sport club OSC, ran in 2:47:08, a good time. It also remained his personal best. The prize for the champion of the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON 1975 was a tape recorder! Ralf Bochröder still runs today (more slowly) – and he proudly noted that he won his age group for two thirds of his races.

He is still involved in the BERLIN-MARATHON – not as a runner, but as a volunteer, wherever he is needed—helping at the marathon trade fair and at other races organised by SCC-RUNNING selling souvenirs, or along the course, whether in the woods or on the street. Every organiser likes that kind of victor.

Here are the first 5 men in the 2nd BERLIN-MARATHON 1975:
1. Ralf Bochröder (OSC) 2:47:08
2. Dieter Weiß (TSV Siemensstadt) 2:48:26
3. Hermann Brecht (SCC) 2:50:02
4. Wolfgang Papenfuß (SCC) 2:53:30
5. Dietmar Gathmann (VfV Spandau) 2:54:26
6. Horst Zettlitz (SCC) 2:54:44

Horst Milde

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