Berlin

From the Global Run Club to the Brandenburg Gate

The pandemic forced change on to so many aspects of normal life, and running was no exception.

As countries and cities around the world did what they could to keep people safe, in-person races took a back seat and virtual races came into their own. We couldn’t meet in huge groups to run and race, but we could still run and race.

The birth of the Global Run Club was driven by this need for people to connect and, in some ways, continue to compete with one another, from wherever they could.

Jerrica Berger was one of them. Originally from Rhode Island, USA, she has been living in Germany for the past seven years after meeting her German husband in Scotland during her studies there.

A truly global citizen found her motivation in a truly global running club.

“When the COVID-19 Pandemic took away the ability to run in person, I told myself that I didn’t want to give up on running,” she says.

“I was never a serious runner. I’ve always done a range of sports but once I set my mind on getting into the world of marathon running, I knew I’d have to run a lot more and treat it more as a way of life.”

With a place in her first Major, the BMW-BERLIN MARATHON on ice until 2021, the cadence of regular challenges and a range of distances offered by the club during its first year was exactly what Jerrica needed to stay on track.

“The Global Run Club got me on the right path giving me that extra bit of motivation and connecting me with runners from all walks of life. 

“What appealed to me most and drove my participation was not only the fact that the initial challenges revolved around the number 26.2 (2.62), but that the challenges were obtainable.

“In fall 2020, I was nowhere near marathon ready, yet the challenges had something for every ability, from rookie to seasoned marathoner, regardless of location.

Jerrica's son Maximilian joined her during training

“I appreciated the fact that I was still able to do a 26.2 challenge but break up the distance within the entire week. Moving on from that, I find it awesome that there are some challenges with a leaderboard to generate a kind of competition, and there is still something on a monthly basis that is worth choosing to keep me and other runners going. 

As time went on, the club developed into a tool to support Jerrica’s marathon training.

“For me the marathon isn't the finish line, rather the totality of progression (each run, each race, each distance milestone) leading to the runner standing at the start line.

“I feel that the Global Run Club and the virtual challenges kept the love of running alive, while providing a global community to have other runners connect to each other all while working towards a common goal.”

The ingenuity of runners came to the fore during months of isolation, with virtual challenges being tackled all over the planet and runners transforming back yards and stairwells into their own race courses. Jerrica, churning through countless laps of her own small village, was among them.

“These are memories are truly special. My driveway became my finish line, my children either joined in for 100 meters/1km of a run or waited for me to finish with balloons.

“I know I can’t bring them this year to Berlin but the growth and memories of this past year of virtual running will follow me to the start and it is the greatest push to get me going. 

“I am grateful that these challenges served to strengthen me as a runner while instilling hope until the real events started up again, seeing the badges, monitoring my personal progression of ongoing challenges, and the really cool useful tips and information provided on the content hub. 

“The Global Run Club has helped me get to my first Majors start line and I can’t wait to run alongside you all in person again!”