Open Track Session Lockdown Edition


Text: Nele, Florens // Photos: Florian Kurrasch

November 15, 2020

If there’s something 2020 has challenged us with, it is to think differently and reflect on current ways of life and reasons to run.

Having found ourselves challenged, we still want to give you reasons to keep you running fast. So we came up with the idea of providing our community with a virtual version of our infamous BTC Open Track Session - yet also giving you some different input to learn or think about that may also affect your life as a runner.

We’d be happy to hear your thoughts, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to stay in touch with you virtually.

BTC runners at the starting line of a 3000m track race Laufteam Berlin
cross country lauf

The workout you have all been waiting for:

1x (6min, 5min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min fast) with 1min moderate between all reps

- beginning with marathon-pace and ending 5-10km pace

Beyond running

2020 has put all of us in a fairly unfamiliar situation. Most of us have had to adapt a new lifestyle, reduce social contacts and put compromises on work, travel and everyday life.

Looking at it a few months into the situation, I’d like to think of myself as quite lucky. Being healthy and at low risk for a complicated COVID infection, with easy and affordable access to healthcare, most adaptations and regulations of my everyday life were simply intended to stop the spread rather than to protect me from a life threatening infection.

However, for a decent percentage of our population, the risk of a lethal complication is drastically high. These people of the so-called high risk population are the ones we should be protecting by social distancing, lockdown and the reduction of meet ups.

It is not only an act of common courtesy, but also a first-hand measurement to protect the ones close to us. All of us know at least one person at high risk, thus making us personally involved also.

Jeder von uns kennt mindestens eine Person mit hohem Risiko, so dass wir auch persönlich beteiligt sind.

cross country lauf

Runners usually complain about sore muscles, overtraining and fatigue, cold or stress fractures. While there is no denying that these are bothering and annoying, I find most runners including me have been taking their overall health for granted.

Most days we step out the door, prepared to run, without realising how withstanding and powerful our body actually is. It was not until I picked up studies of the overall population's health that I began to see how lucky I was to engage as freely in my everyday life and sports as I do.

As opposed to lifestyle-induced and modifiable diseases (mostly in association with obesity and poor choice of nutrition), there exist genetically endorsed and idiopathic diseases which we have no control over whatsoever.

Im Gegensatz zu lebensstilbedingten und veränderbaren Krankheiten (meist in Verbindung mit Übergewicht und schlechter Ernährung) gibt es genetisch indossierte und idiopathische Krankheiten, über die wir keinerlei Kontrolle haben.

cross country lauf
cross country lauf

Brave Like Gigi Grunewald

Sometime last year I stumbled upon the story of Gabriele „Gigi“ Grunewald.

Gigi Grunewald was a former US American elite middle distance runner. Growing up in Minnesota, she decided to pursue her running career while attending college in the same state.

Throughout a consistent improvement of her running during her college years, she was diagnosed with an adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare kind of cancer, in 2009. The NY times reveals she was diagnosed „on the day before a race in 2009. (She ran anyway, and logged what was then her fastest 1,500-meter time.)“ (1). One year later, in 2010, she was also diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

After the surgical removal of the tumor and aggressive radiation therapy, she went on to continue her running career, winning the US indoor national championships in the 3.000m in 2014.

However, the cancer returned in 2016, and by 2017, a mass had also been found in her liver. Gigi refused to give up and continued to train. „She began interspersing chemotherapy sessions with training sessions — racing at an elite level while on her fourth bout with cancer“ (2). She fought bravely and ran hard trying to secure a spot in the US team for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

In 2018, she established the Brave like Gabe Foundationdedicated to the research of rare cancers, while sharing the story of her life in-between therapy and Olympic trials. Gigi died in June 2019 due to complications of her cancer.

Reading the story over and over, I was hoping for an alternative ending, but sadly, there is no such thing. It just does not seem fair.

cross country lauf


Gigi’s story left quite an impact on me, so I decided to engage further with this topic. I started reading #bravelike stories on the bravelikegabe page. These are the stories of cancer patients or survivors who share their journey of fighting cancer while finding inspiration and strength in running and physical exercise. In honor of Gigi Grunewald there is an annual Brave Like Gabe 5k run (this year it took place virtually in september 2020) to raise awareness and support research of rare cancer diseases.

There is only so much doctors can do to fight the actual disease once the cancer manifests but there are great methods of prevention, working on early diagnosis and interventions, which are almost always related to a higher chance of survival and easy to apprehend.

 Most cancers are targeted through chemotherapy, radiation and, if possible, surgical removal of the tumor. Some types of cancer have a good chance of cure, while others can only be treated palliative, which means there is no cure, the only measurements taken are to ease the pain and elongate the remaining lifetime.

Die meisten Krebsarten werden durch Chemotherapie, Bestrahlung und, wenn möglich, durch chirurgische Entfernung des Tumors bekämpft. Einige Krebsarten haben eine gute Heilungschance, während andere nur palliativmedizinisch behandelt werden können, was bedeutet, dass es keine Heilung gibt, sondern nur Maßnahmen zur Linderung der Schmerzen und zur Verlängerung der Restlebensdauer ergriffen werden.

cross country lauf
cross country lauf

On a positive note, people with regular exercise in their everyday life are a lot less likely to be diagnosed with cancer throughout their lives. Even after being diagnosed, in some cases physical exercise can be a valuable contribution to treatment.

As many of you may have noticed, October and November are used to raise awareness for cancer. October is the month of breast cancer awareness, the cancer with the highest incidence in female cancer patients. November focuses on prostate- and testicular cancer, the most common cancer found in male patients.

Oktober ist der Monat des Brustkrebsbewusstseins, der Krebs mit der höchsten Inzidenz bei weiblichen Krebspatienten. Der November konzentriert sich auf Prostata- und Hodenkrebs, den häufigsten Krebs, der bei männlichen Patienten auftritt. 

Each year, there are 500.000 new cases of cancer in Germany alone.

But there is something we can all do to help cancer research and protect the ones dear to us. A lot of institutions and brands have gotten onboard in the fight against cancer, also in the running community. In Berlin, the Berliner Frauenlauf (also called AVON Lauf, SCC) hosts an annual women-only run, where part of the registration fee is donated to the German cancer association.

There is the infamous Movember movement, challenging men to grow a moustache in order to raise awareness. The most famous runner with a moustache, the beloved Steve Prefontaine, might not have had cancer awareness as the first thing on his mind when growing a moustache, but he sure is an example of how great you can run wearing a moustache! Just like our very own founder Björn.

Es gibt die allseits bekannte Movember-Bewegung, die Männer auffordert, sich einen Schnurrbart wachsen zu lassen, um mehr Aufmerksamkeit auf die Thematik zu lenken. Der berühmteste Läufer mit Schnurrbart, der geliebte Steve Prefontaine, hatte vielleicht nicht als erstes an Krebsbewusstsein gedacht, als er sich einen Schnurrbart wachsen ließ, aber er ist sicher ein Beispiel dafür, wie toll man mit einem Schnurrbart laufen kann! Und auch unser Gründer Björn macht es gerade vor.

Quick summary and a few tips of how you can help:

  • Sign up for stem cell donation (eg. Via DKMS): A stem cell donation can be used to cure certain types of cancer, eg. Leukaemia (white blood cell cancer) and is a fairly safe procedure for donors and recipients.
  • Donate blood: Many cancer patients will be in need of a blood donation during their therapy or acute situations.
  • Donate to organizationswhich specialise in research of cancer. (Some examples given below)
  • Encourage your family & friendsto go to regular medical check ups or learn how to check themselves for early signs.
  • Stay active & fit


Stay healthy and see you soon, 

Nele und BTC


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