Running for a good cause

Student crosses the entirety of Germany on foot

 © Markus Marschhäuser

FHWS student Markus Marschhäuser had a sporting goal: to cross the whole of Germany once – on foot and in just one month. From the Danish border to Austria just running. There’s a charitable reason for it.

Day in, day out just running: perhaps that doesn’t sound so exciting to some at first glance. But for Markus Marschhäuser, student in the Faculty of Business and Engineering, it is anything but boring because he is chasing a goal: helping refugees and seriously ill children. For this reason, he ran from Flensburg to Zugspitze, right across Germany, within one month.

The 27-year-old FHWS student started in Flensburg on the Danish border on 30 August 2020. The student came up with the trip, called “RATC – Run Across The Country” and organised it himself as a charity run across Germany. He thus completed three stages within 28 days of running with an additional two rest days. Quite a feat, as Markus Marschhäuser has to admit. But he had a mission: “Helping people through just the most natural of all movements – running”.

Start on the Danish border

In total, Marschhäuser has covered around 1,250 kilometres, either alone or together with other runners. But he was never entirely alone. Because: he had a support vehicle which served as a means of transport and place to sleep. His brother and friends were at the wheel.

Things didn't always go smoothly on the way, as the student reports: “After about a third of the route, I suddenly developed cold symptoms. I was thinking that if it was coronavirus then my project would be dead.” Ultimately, it turned out that he and his brother simply had a normal cold because it was often a bit cold in the vehicle at night. “When I got to Würzburg, the cold had thankfully gone away again,” the 27-year-old remembers. But during this period, he couldn’t run as quickly. Sometimes he could only walk. Overall, he covered an average of 45 km per day. His longest stage was even almost 20 km further.

A clever idea

The idea for the run came to Marschhäuser a year earlier. At that time, he participated in a charity run, with friends, organised by a company in Mainfranken. The organiser donated one euro to a good cause for each lap and participant. Markus Marschhäuser thought at the time that everyone gained something from the event. “The company gets good PR, people do sport and charitable organisations are supported.” From this, the idea of planning his own run was born. He himself, as a dedicated marathon runner, also wanted to cover longer distances. So why not run right across Germany?

Planning for the route finally started in September 2019. Thanks to his studies in Business and Engineering, he had learned some methods for design which he was able to put to good use here. He was guided by the E6 long-distance trail which he ultimately divided into 28 stages. He then worked on fundraising at the beginning of 2020. He created a presentation and went to companies. But this came to a halt owing to the incipient coronavirus pandemic. Marschhäuser himself was no longer entirely sure whether he would be able to see it through. But in June 2020 he started a new attempt and quickly got positive responses from several companies. Around 10,000 euros came together in total in donations, plus some material sponsorships such as running shoes and sports clothing.

Focus on a good cause

The 27-year-old Obereisenheim native wanted to support two social projects in Lower Franconia with the donations: the HERMINE project for refugees on the one hand, and the Kinderhospiz Sternenzelt project for seriously ill children on the other. People did not seek their fates: they were pulled into their situation through no fault of their own and needed help to live a dignified life.

Marschhäuser got plenty of support during the run. He was accompanied by a few runners from time to time. He predominantly called on them through social channels. Mostly, he was running for five hours a day. No wonder, therefore, that Marschhäuser also needed three pairs of running shoes.

He also took a one day break in Würzburg, among others. He spent one of his two rest days there. He knew that he still had just a third of the route before him. “It was already a real partial success for me,” the student thinks back. He had already run through his home town of Obereisenheim shortly beforehand. “One of my best moments was when I arrived in my home town. My family and friends accompanied me through the vineyards there.”

Crossing the border

A few days later, on 27 September, he was finally there: arriving in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Marschhäuser actually wanted to climb Zugspitze on foot, the same way he had tackled the whole of September. But the weather threw a spanner in the works. It snowed and snowed, and didn't stop. “We then took the cable car and got up Zugspitze. There, we saw that there was at least a metre of snow on the via ferrata. It would have been much too dangerous.” He was a little sad nevertheless.

But he still had a goal: to run from border to border. No force of nature could prevent him from doing so. The next day, it was finally done. He crossed the border to Austria. A celebratory moment which coaxed a grin from him. And now, after he has crossed Germany on foot, he is certain: it probably won’t be his last charity run!

Markus Markus Marschhäuser celebrates at the Austrian border.
Celebratory arrival at the Austrian border on 28 September 2020. (© Markus Marschhäuser)
Markus Marschhäuser running in the woods
On average, Markus Marschhäuser ran around 45 km per day. He crossed 4 Federal states in the process. (© Markus Marschhäuser)
Quote: “One of my best moments was when I arrived in my home town. My family and friends accompanied me through the vineyards there.”– Markus Marschhäuser
Map of the entire route from the north to the south
His route ran right across Germany. He also passed through Würzburg, where he enjoyed a day of rest, on the way. (© Markus Marschhäuser)
Foto von Alicia Weigel

An article by
Alicia Weigel