FKT: Joe Baur - In Ringbahn We Trust (Germany) - 2024-04-14

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3h 42m 15s
GPS track(s)


I rolled out the door of my Prenzlauer Berg apartment around 7:30 in the morning. It was cloudy with, at most, the occasional peak of sunshine and something around 15 - 18 degrees C / 60 - 64 F. I couldn't have asked for better running weather to attempt the Ringbahn FKT.

This was my first FKT attempt for any route. I came across the idea after watching Beau Miles' pumpkin run in which he drew a route on a map using the bottom of a pumpkin and ran it wearing nothing but orange and eating only pumpkin. I started to wonder: What could I do in a similar vein but for Berlin? That's when I came up with the idea of running the Ringbahn and saw that it was already a route on FKT with a time I felt I could beat. I decided not only to run the route, but to turn it into a film that uses the run as an excuse to talk about the Ringbahn and how its history ties very much into the history of Berlin.

So I bought a pair of Ampelmann socks and donned a makeshift Dockermütze with the plan to run in the earlier hours of the morning to avoid traffic. Looking at the route and previous reports, I knew I'd have to cross some major intersections and that waiting around for my friend, the green Ampelmann, could add up time over the course of the run. Berlin wakes up late, in my opinion, especially on a Sunday. So I knew that if I started the run around 8 in the morning, I'd have at least a couple of hours of easy running.

I met my lycra-clad buddy Judson at the Prenzlauer Allee S-Bahn station right at 7:45 as planned. Judson would be following me by bike to film the run. It's here where I'll emphasize for the fine folks at FKT that he did not support me in any way. I carried two, one-liter Salomon water bottles and an assortment of snacks –– Clif bars, Honey Stingers, NeverSecond, Squeezy –– all in my vest.

We didn't start right at 8 as planned. First, Judson needed to sort out how to upload the GPX onto his phone so he could get back on course if we separated at any point (foreshadowing). Second, that little bit of waiting around made room for one last nervous pee and none of the bakeries nearby were keen to let me in, even with the promise of purchasing a croissant. And I didn't want to risk finding a spot outside with a Polizei car parked across the street. Fortunately, I found someplace across the street at the Planetarium. I also stumbled across a gorgeous fox sniffing around the concrete in the quiet early hours. The fox trotted past me, sniffed a pine cone, and continued on its way. A good omen, I hoped.

Finally, we made our way down to the platform where the route begins. Since this was my first FKT attempt of any course, it felt strange to essentially start my own race. I worried that I'd start my watch, but accidentally bump it again, only to realize much later that I was running on 'paused.' So I kept a close eye on it once I hit 'start' and made my way up the stairs and out of the station.

The route as published on FKT has a number of what appear to be accidental turns that clearly do not need to be part of the route. Some look like quick out-and-backs away from the trail for no apparent reason. Perhaps a pee break recorded by the creator?

I note this because the route begins by turning right out of the station only to immediately cross the street, turn left until the next intersection and turn left again. If that's hard to mentally picture, then I'll put it this way. I could've just turned left out of the station and achieved the same thing. But I wasn't sure just how nitpicky the FKT crowd would be, so I tried to stick to the route as much as possible. This almost proved difficult as I ran through the docks at Westhafen.

There was nothing indicating that I couldn't run there. At most, there were a couple of gates to stop cars from going through. But nothing that clearly stopped folks on foot or cyclists. So I continued on my merry way, admiring the view of stacks on stacks on stacks of shipping containers. Towards the end, I noticed a vehicle with the word "security" on it. But nobody waved at me or made any indication that I was doing something wrong. So, I kept going until reaching the end of Westhafen at Beusselstraße where there was a metal gate that very much blocked the way.

I started to worry. "I'm only seven kilometers into this thing and I'm already getting stopped! Where else does this course run through that might be blocked?"

Because I was determined to stick to the route as much as possible, lest I ruin the FKT by getting dinged for not embracing the urban obstacle, I searched for an exit. Judson noted that I could probably shimmy underneath the metal gate. So I quickly took off my running vest and slid underneath. Judson, on bike, could not do the same, so he'd have to ride back, around, and catch up with me later.

Just as I started to put my vest back on, I noticed a car coming and pointed it out to Judson. But ever the committed cameraman, he just said, "Bye!" and sent me on my way. I wouldn't see him again for another 10 kilometers or so, running through the grassy green grounds of Schloss Charlottenburg and then some on my own. I started to worry: "What if we did do something wrong? What if I got him arrested for filming my silly little run?"

Without losing a step, I swung my vest off and grabbed my phone out of the back pouch. Having taken in some gels and Clif bars, I had made some room in the front of my vest and could store my phone there for easier access. Still running, I checked Judson's location and saw he was just ahead of me. "Thank God."

I caught up with him underneath a highway somewhere around Schöneberg. I saw him in the distance, dismounted from his bike, the video camera up and ready to grab a shot of me passing by.

"Well isn't that a ginger for sore eyes!" I shouted as I passed by. When he caught up with me on bike, Judson explained that the car approaching was someone in security. He was asked to follow the security official to an office where Judson had to explain, auf Deutsch, this silly little thing I was doing. Stern but reasonable, the woman in charge forced Judson to delete all footage taken within Westhafen in front of her. The security guard, apparently, wanted more, insisting that they take Judson's name and information. But she deemed that unnecessary. This, apparently, happens often enough that people come running through there and taking photos. The woman left Judson with the contact info of their press manager, who we should contact if we want to do this again.

Not long after Schöneberg, I reached the southern-edge of Tempelhofer Feld, easily the smoothest, least complicated section of the course. For a good three kilometers, it was nothing but a paved cyclist/pedestrian path with lovely views of the park and the Berliner Fernsehturm off in the distance, and in my case, Meat Loaf's "Bat out of Hell" blaring in my ears. Seeing the tower gave me at least a visual indication that I was turning the corner on this run. Because although the course is a circle around the city, it doesn't feel like you're going in a circle with all the left-right turns you take to stay on course.

Five kilometers later, I reached Treptower Park, which is relatively familiar territory for me. My first job in Berlin was just on the other side of the Spree and I'd often come running around here during my lunch break. This felt like the home stretch, which was a wonderful feeling considering my left hamstring wasn't feeling so wonderful –– a bit sore and in need of a good stretch.

After crossing the Spree, it was a relatively straightforward, unremarkable jaunt back to the start through Friedrichshain and into Prenzlauer Berg. All I had to do was keep pounding the pavement and ignore the bursts of wind pushing back against me. So that's what I did until I turned left back onto Prenzlauer Allee for the final sprint down the steps and onto the platform where Judson was waiting for me, offering up a high-five for what felt like a job well done.

I stopped my watch with 3:42:15 elapsed –– only about six minutes more than my final moving time of 3:36:41. In other words, I would've hit a PR for the marathon had it not been for the traffic lights. Oh, well. The Ampelmann giveth and the Ampelmann taketh away.


At least the hard part is over. Now, I have to edit this thing together.