Another one of the good guys, our global traveller, Pat Butcher, wrote this column with the kind assistance of Joerg Wenig. Please enjoy, and remember to sign up at www.globerunner.org to get all of Pat’s thoughtful columns.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Horst Milde,
By Pat Butcher
Returning from a rare winter break, I see an email from Horst
Milde, who wrote to me about the Sportsmuseum Berlin – AIMS Marathon
Museum of Running. I visited the museum for the first time six months
ago; and it gives me great pleasure to either tell or remind readers of
the great work that Horst has done, both for his hometown of Berlin and
for distance running worldwide.
The genial Milde is now in his early seventies, but is as
indefatigable as ever; and that despite a serious cancer (and a mild
heart attack) in the last decade, and his wife Sabine’s more recent
fight against the pernicious disease.
The Berlin Marathon is one of the jewels on the international running
circuit nowadays, but it was only a latterday addition to the crammed
calendar of running events created virtually single-handedly by Milde
since, as a student, he helped organise the first cross country race in
the then divided post-war city back in November 1964.
Horst has long been a member of SCC Berlin, with whom he won two
national relay titles at the 3 x 1,000 metres, in1964 and 1965. His
personal bests include 49.1sec for 400m, 1.49.8 for 800m, 2.25.00 for
1,000m, and 3:51.8 for 1500m.
All that despite being an (exceptionally) early riser since, as a
master baker, he ran the family business, Konditorei Milde, with Sabine,
for three decades until 1998. The bakery backroom was where many ideas
for running in Berlin and Germany were dreamed up, eg introducing
national championships in cross-country; the introduction of computer
timing chips before they were officially recognized; the first loop
course in a marathon held entirely within a city marathon for a World
Athletics Championships, in Berlin 2009.
Abel Kirui, winning the 2009 WC Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net.
The creation and development of the Berlin Marathon itself is
testament to Milde’s determination. The first race, near Gruenewald in
1974 had just 286 entries. But when he wanted to bring the race into the
city in 1981, he had to play off the reluctant local police against the
occupying allied forces. To the astonishment of the police, John
Kornblum, who later became US ambassador, gave permission for the race
to pass beside Checkpoint Charlie. The police then conceded the city
And when the Wall came down nine years later, Milde persuaded the
authorities in both East and West to let the race proceed through both
parts of Berlin. Three days before unification 25,000 runners passed
through the Brandenburg Gate.
As Berlin Marathon race director, he presided over five world
records, including Naoko Takahashi’s first sub 2.20, and Paul Tergat‘s
first sub 2.05, before he handed over the reins to his son Mark in 2004.
Horst was chairman of the track and field section of SCC Berlin for
over a decade as well as being an official representative for the Berlin
track and field federation (BLV) and playing an active role in
promoting mass sport at Berlin’s regional sports federation.
He then joined the Board of Directors of the Association of
International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) as well as being spokesman
for German Road Races (GRR), and principal architect of the latter’s
website. In these roles he continues to play a significant role in the
national and international development of the sport of running.
Not least, he has been the driving force behind the official
AIMS-Museum in Berlin* and although he was unable to attend, due to
Sabine’s cancer treatment, he was chairman of the AIMS Symposium which
took place in Athens last November, in tandem with the 2500th
anniversary of the history-making Battle of Marathon.
Long may his dynamism and good nature enthuse all who come into contact with him.
(My thanks to another Berliner, friend and colleague Joerg Wenig, who furnished much of the above information)