“On your mark, get set, go!” | “Auf die Plätze, fertig, los!”
For the past four years, sister-cities Columbus and Dresden Germany have formed a special relationship, sending five of their own city’s athletes to compete in the other’s Marathon and ½ Marathon. The experience has proven to be much more than a race across the pond. Participants have been able to take in a new culture, share their own and make international friendships that last long beyond the 5 night stay.
Hear what a few of our Columbus athlete and cultural ambassadors had to say about their time in Dresden.
Dresden was stunningly different and also similar to what makes Columbus special – friendly people and pride in our home regions of central Ohio and Saxony. My hosts Katrin, a fellow half marathoner, and Jesto were the highlight of the trip. They enjoyed hosting Daniel Conner in 2014 and wanted to share their hospitality again. They met me at the train station. Through the exchange, they are fans of buckeye candy and understand why O H is greeted with I O. With them, I saw the local region including historic towns like Meissen, regional wineries, baroque palaces, and the Saxon Alps. Their warmth and kindness were limitless.
Staying with a local family in Dresden truly made the trip so much more memorable. Plus, I can honestly say I had one of the BEST meals of my life, goulash! I would go back just for that.
Maybe it’s just because I was on cloud nine from traveling abroad, but this was one of my favorite races. Unlike many marathons in the United States that start by 8 a.m., the Dresden Marathon did not start until 10:30 a.m. local time, which turned out to be perfect as the weather was a little chilly leading up to the race. The race begins through the historic downtown area with palaces and beautiful architecture towering over the course. You then head over a bridge and into an area known as “New Dresden.” Before heading back to the other side of the river, you go through a 1 kilometer tunnel that becomes cheering echoing contest that energizes all the athletes passing through.
From the time my husband and I arrived in Dresden, we were shown such hospitality by the sister city coordinator, city officials and of course our host family. The city with its rich history, culture and art was impressive. The sight and story of the reconstructed Baroque Frauenkirche was quite moving. The thrill of running the international marathon along cobblestone streets and tree lined river paths was unforgettable.
The best part of the experience was the friendship we made with our Dresden hosts Claudia and Thomas. Thank you Dresden Sister City Inc. and the Columbus Marathon. It was an honor to represent Columbus in this sister city exchange. It is our hope to return the warmth and hospitality shown to us to future Dresden visitors to Columbus.
The best part, though, and least expected were the 5 days I spent with my host family, Christine and Herbert. Going into this I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew my host was a runner so I figured that would at least provide an opportunity for some conversation. However, I didn’t know that it would be possible to find a connection with complete strangers like I did.
We spent hours talking about their lives, my life, what is going on in Germany, what is happening in the States. We walked and biked all over Dresden and surrounding areas, biking to places like Pillnitz and Meissen and of course sampling a few biers along the way. We made several meals at their home and we laughed about many things. I was able to meet several of their friends as well. My hosts were so kind to take time out of their daily routines to make me feel a part of their lives.
Interested in learning more about being a Columbus Ambassador or host? Send a note to Dorit Fratzscher at firstname.lastname@example.org