About the event


Berlin is home to Germany's biggest half marathon

The history of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON is linked to the history of the city of Berlin. The race could only have developed in this way in today's German capital. This is because in the 1980s, when the Berlin Wall was still up, East and West each had their own races: In East Germany, the Peace Run was the biggest road race of the year, while in West Berlin, the Berlin Half Marathon organised by SC Charlottenburg had only a local character. The race served as a test of one’s preparedness a few weeks before the BERLIN-MARATHON. Around ten months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a joint race took place in the late summer of 1990, which then developed into one of the largest and most elite races over the 21.0975-km distance: the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the first large city runs modelled on foreign races began to develop in Germany. The USA, Great Britain and France were already a little further ahead at the time. In spring of 1981, the French organised a city run in their sector of Allied-occupied West Berlin, and the '25 km de Berlin' was launched in May. The French had thus broken the spell: The first BERLIN-MARATHON through the city followed in the fall, after the premiere of the Frankfurt Marathon (Hoechst Marathon Frankfurt) had also been launched. The popular sports scene in the GDR was not immune to this development. It also pushed onto the streets, although this was even more difficult in the eastern part of Germany. Initially, there was no green light for a city run. However, a group of organisers started the Lichtenberg Marathon in 1981. The 42.195-km race took place on smaller roads through the East Berlin borough. Only a few hundred runners participated. The centre of East Berlin was still off-limits at the time. Due to the manner in which the event developed, the origin of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON is considered to have begun with this Lichtenberg Marathon.

"Berliner Friedenslauf" (Peace Run) 1982 shortly after the start

The half marathon as preparation for the marathon in Berlin
The modest beginnings of the Lichtenberg Marathon quickly expanded. The success of the city races in the West was evidently also recognised in the eastern part of Germany. Now the East Berlin authorities in the Red City Hall and the sports officials of the GDR in the DTSB (German Gymnastics and Sports Federation) agreed to a race through the city streets. This is how the small Lichtenberg Marathon with 466 runners became the Peace Run, which is reported to have had 20,000 participants at the start in 1982. However, according to contemporary witnesses, this was greatly exaggerated. In addition to a marathon, the programme also included a 20K run and additional shorter races. Most of the participants ran just for fun. However, the half marathon was not one of the distances offered at the Peace Run. The Peace Run was also used by the GDR leadership for propaganda purposes. In 1985, the race was moved to a Thursday because the International Olympic Committee was meeting in East Berlin at the same time. The then IOC President Juan-Antonio Samaranch gave the starting signal for a race in which 70,000 people were supposedly at the start. This figure was obviously greatly exaggerated. The Berlin Half Marathon in the western part of the city did not have the significance of the Peace Run. It was simply a preparatory race for the BERLIN-MARATHON, which usually took place four weeks later. The first Berlin Half Marathon was organised by SC Charlottenburg Berlin, which later became the current organiser, SCC EVENTS, on September 2, 1984. The number of participants in this race fluctuated between 1,350 and 1,800. The start and finish of the race were in the Mommsen Stadium, and the route ran along and through the Grunewald forest.

From the Peace Run to the Berlin Half Marathon through the Brandenburg Gate
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR regime, the existence of the state-supported Peace Run was threatened. At the same time, however, there were new road races developing in completely new dimensions. Under the direction of Horst Milde, several races were created for the athletics department of SC Charlottenburg, which are now organised by SCC EVENTS. For the first time, the New Year's Run on January 1, 1990 and the BERLIN-MARATHON in September 1990 were held on courses that ran through both parts of the once divided city and through the Brandenburg Gate. The Peace Run organiser at the time, Stefan Senkel, found a supporting partner in Horst Milde and SCC Berlin, who helped the event to continue. In contrast to the earlier Peace Run, from 1990 onwards it was the the half marathon distance that took centre stage. On September 1, 1990, 4,999 participants took part in the new Berlin Half Marathon, which was initially still known as the "Peace Run". The course ran through both parts of the city, starting on Karl-Marx-Allee at the Kino International cinema and finishing at Alexanderplatz.

Sensational development of the race in the German capital
Since 1992, the Berlin Half Marathon has been held in the spring. This was mainly for organisational reasons, as a second major event in September in addition to the BERLIN-MARATHON would have been difficult to organise in the long term. At the beginning of the 1990s, the half marathon as a discipline experienced an enormous international surge, after the first IAAF Half Marathon World Championships were held in 1992. In contrast to many international races, however, the number of participants in Berlin initially declined. There was virtually nothing left of the high (purportedly) five-figure numbers of participants in the Peace Run. But the initiators at the time persisted with the race—even when there were fewer than 3,000 runners participating. They were well aware of the development potential of a race over the "half distance". And their perseverance paid off. It took a few more years, but finally the knot burst: Within a few years, the Berlin half marathon experienced a sensational development. In 2000, over 7,000 people registered for the largest German race of its kind—which was almost double the number from the previous year. In 2001, the number of half marathon registrations exceeded 10,000 for the first time, and in 2007 it had reached over 20,000.

Final stretch behind the Brandenburg Gate at the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON 2023

Start of the Berlin Half Marathon on April 2nd, 2017 at Karl-Marx-Allee

Start-finish area at the Brandenburg Gate on the grand boulevard "Strasse des 17. Juni"
The GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON 2019 was given a significant upgrade: the start/finish area is now located on the Strasse des 17. Juni. Like the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, the finish line is located immediately past the Brandenburg Gate. 28,471 finishers set a record in 2019, with a total of 35,551 registered athletes. However, the distance not only made huge strides in terms of interest from the general public, but also in terms of being a world-class sport. The race experienced its first major elite sporting highlight back in 1993: Carsten Eich (Leipzig) won in a European record time of 60:34 minutes, which was long regarded as the German record. The course records include world-class times: Kenyan Eric Kiptanui won in 2018 in 58:42 minutes, while his compatriot Sheila Kiprotich Chepkirui ran a time of 65:02 in 2022.


In 2023, SCC EVENTS joined the SuperHalfs series as the organiser of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON, and it will be included in the series starting in 2024. This is an association of originally five, now six, renowned race organisers from Lisbon, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Cardiff and Valencia. The SuperHalfs series offers runners a unique and challenging experience as they complete half marathons in these famous European cities. The series fosters a sense of community and achievement and inspires runners to realise their full potential while discovering new cultures and destinations.
The addition of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON expands the SuperHalfs series to six prestigious races and offers runners a unique opportunity to become SuperRunners and receive a very special medal when they complete their SuperHalfs series. From the day of their first race, participants will have 60 months to complete this remarkable achievement. All runners will be included in the new six-race SuperJourney. Those who have already started their adventure will have the opportunity to receive a SuperMedal after completing the previous five races. The growing family of runners who have already completed the series will also have the opportunity to extend their adventure with a race in Berlin. The SuperHalfs series has already captured the hearts and determination of more than 20,000 runners, and with the addition of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON, this number is expected to grow exponentially.




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