WIESBADEN, Germany -- As the hours rolled by you could feel the sense of awe building among the runners and spectators around the roughly one-kilometer Wiesbaden-Kurpark track.

While replacements on the 33 competitive and 24 fun teams tagged off during the marathon charity run, word spread that two men were attempting to run the entire 25 hours straight through. Unlike the other teams that had 10 (competitive teams) or more (fun teams) members each, Holger van Dorp, born in Wiesbaden and now living in California, and Chris Wolfe, a U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden civilian computer technician, were one-person teams.

"When I told Herr (Georg) KleinekathAfAPfer that I wanted to run the 25 hours myself, he asked me 'do you really want to do this''" said Wolfe, explaining that the representative of WISPO (the event organizer) was concerned that Wolfe would need support during the event. After the American runner convinced the organizer that his wife, Donielle, and children would be on hand to provide logistical support, he was given the green light to proceed.

At 10 a.m. Sept. 12, Wolfe and van Dorp were among the competitors of the seven U.S. military and 50 German teams sprinting away from the starting line. Twenty-five hours later both were still among the runners crossing the finish line with Wolfe having covered 152 laps - the most of any runner - and van Dorp 150.

"I zoned out in the beginning," said Wolfe. "The first five or six hours were the toughest - there was still so much left of it, and anything could happen."

As the day became night, Wolfe said he took a couple 30-minute breaks, taking catnaps. He also experienced a little lightheadedness, convinced around 3 a.m. that a friend (who turned out to be someone else) was cheering him on from the sidelines.

"But I had the easy part," said Wolfe. "All I had to do was run. Friends came in from time to time and motivated me. Holger kept me moving too."

Wolfe said after falling behind his fellow extreme challenger in number of laps he focused on overtaking the runner.

"In the end, that's what really made me go," he said, explaining that crowd and fellow runner support kept him motivated. "It was really cool when everybody went crazy - when they called out my name over the speaker system."

At 11:30 a.m. Sept. 13, Dr. Helmut MAfA1/4ller, Wiesbaden's lord mayor, and Col. Jeffrey Dill, USAG Wiesbaden commander and a member of the garrison's running team, took the stage to congratulate all who took part in the annual fund-raising effort promoting Germany's world-class athlete program and to announce the winners. A team comprised of runners from the R&V Insurance Company, the R&V Running Stars, took first-place honors, having completed 421 laps.

Members of the 1st Armored Division were the fastest from the garrison, taking 11th place in the fun division after having run 307 laps.

More than 165 runners from the Wiesbaden military community made up teams representing 1st AD, 1st Air Support Operations Squadron, USAG Wiesbaden, 485th Intelligence Squadron, 501st Military Police Company, Wiesbaden Health Clinic and the 102nd Signal Battalion.

Like the overall event, the garrison's team was a true German-American cooperative effort including German police officers, American teachers, family members and a mix of Soldiers and civilians. Many of the German teams also included U.S. runners.

"I ran this morning myself and had a chance to experience this fantastic atmosphere," said Dill, while recognizing the participants and celebrating the winning teams. Dill also observed that the annual German-American charity run is a great showcase for the value of sports and a healthy lifestyle. "Thank you very much for your generosity and support."

"What's amazing is that the two runners who ran the full 25 hours look so relaxed," said Wiesbaden's lord mayor, during the awards presentation. "That's the great thing about athletics."

As Wolfe stretched out in the camping area in the Kurpark after having run his longest race so far, he mentioned having previously run two 100-kilometer races. "I did a 100-kilometer run that took me 15 hours through the mountains and earlier this year did a 100-K race in Ulm that took me 13 hours."

He looked forward to marathons in Berlin, Frankfurt and Athens in the coming months.

When asked what makes him run so long and so far, Wolfe thought for a moment, smiled and answered, "I have no idea."

(Editor's note: Participants can check out their times and number of laps covered on the WISPO home page at www.chipzeit.de/ergebnisse/2009091301.aspx)

Page last updated Wed September 16th, 2009 at 03:02