22nd Berliner Wasserbetriebe 5 x 5 km TEAM-Relay from 7 until 9 June 2023

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Runners' story (1): Don't let it get you down!

By Frank Kjaer from Denmark


Frank Kjaer

I would like to tell you my personal story, which began 46 years ago in Denmark. I was born with the disease asthma. It gave me a hard time when I was a child. I could hardly run or even walk – and I was always nuisance with my asthma.

I developed a spiteful attitude to all kind of sports – and I became someone who never watched sports or participated in any form at all. I became an intellectual type and concentrated on my studies.

The years passed – and at one night, 13 years ago, I was sitting with my wife’s brother (Flemming Mathiesen) at my home and we had been drinking a lot of wine until we were drunk.

Suddenly he started to talk about a marathon he ran for the first time in Berlin! He knew my attitude to all kinds of sports but he went on – he did not tell much – but one sentence was repeated in my head over and over again that night and the following days– and it was the fact that everybody can participate in a marathon!!!! You just have to register and then you are welcome to try to win the race, and everybody accepts your participation!!!!

Then I started running and I decided that I would take part in Berlin at the BERLIN-MARATHON in 1995!

People were laughing at me – in a good way – and no one believed that I would succeed because I had a lot of trouble with my health. My asthma was getting worse, and I had to take more and more medicine. My lung function was getting worse as well. I could feel that I was getting weaker and weaker and I had to do something. I was 33 years-old and physically I felt like a 99 year-old men!

So I began to run by my self – quiet and easy – step by step. I was also too fat and I had to loose 15 kg – and to stop smoking also!!! It was quite a challenge for me.

I knew at this time, that my lung function was reduced by 25 - 30 % while I had to take my medicine, so I just had to take it easy.

So in 1995 I ran together with Flemming Mathiesen the BERLIN-MARATHON. Flemming had run about 3 marathons at that time (all in Berlin) and he could give me some advises. It was my first Marathon.

We decided to run two marathons a year - we ran one in the spring, the Hamburg Marathon, and one in the fall, the BERLIN-MARATHON.

Sometimes I still have problems with my lungs, but today I am a healthy man who decided to run marathons for the rest of his life. Every year I register for the marathon, but I am very sensitive, so sometimes I am ill and cannot participate. Nevertheless I am driving to Berlin and Hamburg every year and if I cannot participate I watch the race and cheer and shout for the runners. Meanwhile we are about 15 men from my family and friends, who run marathon together! And we have a lot of fun!

It is possible to run a marathon even your odds is not very good. The healthy benefits from running cannot be overestimated. I suggest that handicapped runners (like me) can maybe run with a special coloured bib number (something like the “Jubilee-club”), so everyone can see that this runner has a handicap – and a handicap of some value – but he/she ‘just does it’ anyway – even it is much harder for this person and even it takes 5 – 6 hours. I think this could inspire some people with a handicap– and this will encourage others to do the same. Asthma is becoming a national disease – and once again – the healthy benefits from running are very big for the asthmatics.


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