Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sample pics

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Here’s a few sample pics. The smaller ones on the site will be updated soon. All images copyright Simon Cole 2009

The 'old days' are not so long ago...

D2 pushing at the wall

A moment of reflection

Big sky.

Irony of fence turned cross for 'Godless' communism.

Pass the salt.

An army marches on its stomach

Thirsty work.

D9 Runners group with Stefan leading

Day 6

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm
Team pic at Hotensleben.

Team pic at Hotensleben.

Day 5

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2009 at 10:40 am

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Day 4 – Fulda Gap

In Berlin Wall, GDR, Uncategorized on May 18, 2009 at 10:38 am
Clash that never came.

Clash that never came.

We’ve mainly focused on the ramifications of the border on Germans. But here we’re reminded of the bigger picture. This is the Fulda Gap, a strategic lowland corridor where NATO planners expected any Soviet push to be concentrated. From here it was 48 hours to the psychologically symbolic Rhine.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that newsreaders in the UK would report exercises on this border; any one of which could be the start of the Soviet attack that so many of us feared.

I lived in Sunderland in North East England, and we were told that it was a primary target because it was a port. Every so often the main police station would test an air raid siren which would herald incoming missiles after the authorities received the infamous “four-minute warning”.

Here at the Point Alpha museum, the Americans had their own watchtowers. Watching them, watching us, watching them… A flagpole flying the Stars and Stripes marks the point where US jeeps would turn around before the border as they made their rounds.

In the museum, a diorama (see above pic) shows models of the weaponry that would have been involved: tanks, armoured cars, tracked missile launchers and attack helicopters. During NATO exercises, orange denotes enemy forces and friendly fire incidents are sometimes are referred to as a “blue on blue”.

Here we saw our first SM-70, the GDR antipersonnel mine that lined the border in many places. Attached to a post or the fence, it was activated by a tripwire and would send out 80 or so steel splinters in a deadly cone. A sobering reminder that people had died along the border, and very unpleasantly too.

Day 3

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm
Cross made from old border fence.

Cross made from old border fence.

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Day 2 cont.

In Day 2, Uncategorized on May 16, 2009 at 10:33 am
There are still watchtowers, but for hunting.

There are still watchtowers, but for hunting.

Text to follow

Day 2

In Day 2, Running, Uncategorized on May 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

The unusual suspects

Last night we showered communally in the sports hall at Topen – there was no room for British blushes – and then my group took a leisurely breakfast. We wouldn’t run until lunchtime so there was no rush.

My team was mostly made up of the guys from the running club in Burg bei Magdeburg, so I was an honorary ‘Ossi’ for a week. Inevitably a number of them had done national service in the GDR army and still remembered some Russian. Frank Stucke now works at a museum at Marienborn, which was one of the main crossing points between the old FDR and GDR.

Several of the group were aged 65+, but they were to prove to be hardy runners who got the distance done and never grumbled. I can only hope I am as fit as them if/when I get to their age. We also had the youngest runner Timo Grothe (30) who was born in the FDR but moved to Dresden.

Sharing the load on the road

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm

“It’s perfect for a student: it’s fast and it’s cheap,” says my young travelling companion. He’s slightly incredulous that ride-sharing is not as common in the UK as it is here. Thanks to the internet, Mitfahrgelegenheit is as easy as booking a train. Simply choose your date and start/end points, then call whoever is going your way that day.

But at around a third of the price, and with company and cultural insight provided, it’s a cheaper and more interesting than travelling in one of those fast – but expensive – grey trains which are never late.

I can’t get to the obscure village where the run will start, but I can get to the nearest town. Three hours on the Autobahn, booking a few days ahead, for only 15 Euros? Not bad at all. Leaving from a petrol station near Berlin’s Messe Nord, this time it’s a van I’m taking and with another eight or so travelling companions, we put the pedal to the metal.

Passing the relic of empty stadium seats which bizarrely still line a section of the city’s southern motorway, the urban landscape recedes and gives way to fields. We’re on the way.


In GDR, Germany, Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 at 8:55 am

RTW DDR board game and books
Welcome to Running the Berlin Wall, where you can find basic information on the run and contact details for myself. You can also find some earlier (GDR-specific) blog posts from my website Bookpacking and its blog.

Please note we will be in the German countryside for most of the period 15-23 May so email access will be intermittent.

At the risk of flattering myself, all material is © Simon Cole 2009

Simon Cole

Running back through time

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 at 8:04 am

15-23 May will see a relay run over 1,000km tracing the route of the old East German (GDR/DDR) border. I will be the only non-German helping to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall in this unusual fashion. For more information, see the Who and What pages above.