With these words (engl.: ‚3 – 2 – 1 and out‘) or nearly the same, choreographer Ivana officially closed the final performance of speed of light ruhr at October the 5th 2013 at Landschaftspark Duisburg. This ends a project that lasts for two weeks, but for me and – how I think – for all the other members, leaves a long lasting impression. The reports on the past rehearsals and performances can be found in the chronic to the right ( # some of them are still missing # ).
Warning: here come very lot of words! You’ve been warned!
speed of light ruhr was an all new experience for all of the members. I don’t believe, that anyone from the teams has taken part in such a project. By the way, it is the first time, that the 1992 established scottish artist organisation NVA (nacionale vitae activa) brought this lighting project to Germany and the european continent.
Earlier this day the runners met with a melancholic mood for the 11th time at the production base on Zeche Ewald. A special ambience prevailed. On one side, I was glad, that the exertion and shortness of sleep of the past days would find an end. On the other side I got used to this situation. My body adapted the streak running/performing and my mind accepted the nearly daily rehearsals – even on weekends.
With all this said, you have to keep in mind, that also my family has to abstain from me. Every rehearsal and later the performances began with leaving the house at 5 p.m. and not coming back home earlier than 11 p.m. For some other runners it was much more time-consuming because they had to travel longer. A huge ‚thank you!‘ at this point to my loved family!
Some ‚yellows‘ already waited at our teamtable. Someone has printed a group picture and created a collage which we all signed to give it to our leadrunner as a present. All this in a photo frame. A very nice idea. The usual friendly ambience was often interrupted by short objections: ‚Last time today!‘, ‚What will I do with all the leisuretime?‘, ‚Today it all will be over!‘ were statements, that I realised. Partly seriously, partly ironically. When I passed the other groups I could hear the like. On the other days, ther air was full of positive stress, but now we all had the knowledge that the last performance is near. During the first rehearsal at the Halde Hoheward another runner said: ‚This is huge, this is us and nobody can ever take it away from us!‘ And right now it weights even more.
We looked out of the window at the square outside of our waiting room and watched our leadrunners as the practised parts of the performance. Angus was sitting at the edge of the square and suddenly called for us to come downstairs. Unlike the other days he wants to practise the final performance for Duisburg with all of us. It’s no wonder, because – in my opinion – this would be the most challenging performance. Most things become easier to understand, when you know what is meant by the single parts. Angus explains, supported by Ivana, the pictures in detail und the performance really makes sense to me.
We put on the lightsuits again. We helped each other as a matter of course and within minutes we moved towards the busses. Until now we had perfect weather for running, but today it seriously looks like rain. The clouds tell no good. First location for today is Platz der Guten Hoffnung near the Centr.O in Oberhausen. During the whole trip I can’t decide whether to put the rain jacket on or not. As we reached the parking lot behind the König Pilsener Arena I could clearly see that the clouds move east, that means against the bearing of our route for today. Even where we waited right now, there were some people looking interested at us. With this attention you could feel like someone special.
Line-up! At once the double-line of runners started moving. Before we reached the actual location, there are many people along our way applauding and shouting motivating phrases. On the square there were more people than during the famous christmas market. Me and my team were one of the last teams to enter the square. The framing is nearly over yet. The audience is standing very close to our running line. You can almost feel their ambience. It was a good performance, except the infinite circles that felt like 10 minutes or like. First technical problem since we started: Ivana’s radio unit was broken! The leadrunners could’nt recieve any commands over a long period and so we ran and ran in a double circle. Finally we entered the next figure. Unfortunaltely we had to skip two really nice figures because we lost too much time. The rest of the performance worked like a charm and the audience said goodbye with a huge applause. The crew told us that there must be around 3000 people watching us! Wow!
Again we ran along the Arena and created a double-line to head for the Rhein-Herne-Kanal. Running is perfect like the day before, because the speed is comfortable and the run isn’t just exhausting.
As we cross the Rehberg bridge in Oberhausen it must be a great picture for the audience. Many of them were standing at the route this time and they often appeared in small groups to clap or shout motivations. We always replied with a La Ola that ranges the the whole group.
The volunteers perfectly closed the roads and paths where we were crossing if necessary. We have to thank them for the very good success of the running between the locations. After about 75min we reached the Landschaftspark in Duisburg. The only location with two different stages to perform the choreografies. First a quite one among the trees along the Gasometer (where you could dive). This part ends with a very calm element, where we lit single trees from the bottom to the top with our handtorches. Very calm and kind of mystical.
We followed a rat run towards the old gravel deposits (Kiesbunker). The choreografy for this part tells a little story. At least we knew this now, after Angus explained us the idea for it this afternoon. Relaxed music and smooth movements switched with hard percussions and volitional chaos among the runners. I’m not quite sure, if all the audience has realised the open ending, that stands for the unknown future of the human race and every individuum. But that is the meaning of it, that the NVA had in mind.
Yet we stand around the giant concrete cone. The music fades out, the LEDs of the suits slowly get darker. We turn off our head torches. Over the radio unit Ivana gives the command: ‚3 – 2 – 1 and out‘ to the lead runners. The audience reacts to the end of the performance with great applause – gooseflesh, an inch thick! We leave the gravel deposits walking and were heading for the busses – sadly sure that this was the last time we do so. We had to make a detour, because the audience blocked the regular way. So many people came to watch us!
On our way to the bus the audience is still applauding and shouting, because they liked the show so much. And we? At this very moment we exactly know that the project was officially finished. We absorbed the atmosphere for another time and relished the reactions of the audience which are consistently positive.
As the bus could not leave the parking lot, we stood for a litte while along its side and the first bottles of beer and sparkling wine were opened. Due to the fact, that I only drink alcohol in rare occasions and have to drive home by car, I preferred my water and leave it to the others. As a tribute to the busdrivers, who did their job very well, we collected a small amount of money from each runner to hand it to them right now.
It felt like forever before all got into their busses and then we went for our last drive to the production base in Herten. For the last time within the scope of this project we will enter the rooms of the production base. For the last time, we will hang the lightsuits on the mount…
This final evening I’m not driving home right after I hung up the suit, but stayed with the others to join the little party the crew prepared for us. It quickly turns out, the it would not be a fast: ‚Thanky you! Well, that’s it!‘ All persons in charge have found some words in recognition of the project, the operators and the performing runners.
The Ruhr Tourismus thanked the runners for their effort and energy and the pr agencies for the perfect execution. Last but not least they thanked the NVA crew for the successful project. It was a national advertising for the (Emscher Landschaftspark) region and the media showed enormous interest.
Than it was Angus Farquhar’s (NVA creative director) turn to speak. He said: ‚There are many things to say, but all the important things we already know, they’re inside: we did it! Each of us is an individual and than we become one family to do something good. To give something good to the world, to make them happy and to show them something that they havn’t seen before. It’s a very special feeling for us. So, what have I discovered? You are good people! You worked very hard and you don’t complained. […] The happiest moment for me, and you will all understand this, is to be with the Läufers!‘
The NVA thanked the Ruhr Tourismus and the german choreographers (Pipo, Ivana and Wiebke), for the close collaboration. Finally the moment came, that I – and probably all the others – hoped for this evening: gifts for the nearly 120 runners. Additional to what we earned for ourself from this project, we got an exclusive black longshirt with a big SOL logo at the back and a small one at the front. I beg your pardon for being so sketchy, but I really felt lucky to get this, just as being part of the project. Material value compared with the knowledge, that this project is unique in many ways und will stay something outstanding for all participants. And we can show it now to the other people: ‚I was there!‘
Some facts for the friends of statistics and numbers:
- 3,5 days (technical) rehearsals (ca. 16,5 h)
- 3,5 days dress rehearsals (ca. 16,5 h)
- 4 days of performances
- 7 locations (incl. pressevent Kokerei Hansa)
- 16km running during the performances (my records)
- 34km running between the locations (my records)
- ca. 120 ultra-nice and motiviated runners
- ca. a dozen crewmembers
- a bunch of volunteers
- between 12 and 15 thousand viewer
- tons of adrenaline, fun and good spirit
I cannot certainly say, if I would take part for another time as a runner. Should there ever be a new edition of speed of light ruhr, there will be other runners waiting for their chance since 2013. And I would give them a chance – that’s the only reason. But I guess, there is always a need for volunteers. Edit: Serious, I’m not really sure if I could resist!
I could write on for a while, but there are a lot of things, I still cannot put down in words. What I can definitely say, that speed of light ruhr was much more than just fun, in spite of the effort for me and my family. I will not experience anything like this for a faily long time – for sure! But as well I have not expected, that these two weeks would change my runner’s view so fundamental. That’s another thing, I cannot describe clearly. I never had a problem with motivating myself for the next run – my wife can tell you. Although I will not start to only run through lonely forests, bounce on grasslands with nice flowers on it or withdraw all forthcoming races – if you really believed that, you know me bad! I have too much love for the Ruhrgebeat and to be high on adrenaline when they fire the gun to start the race! It’s more like an aspect of running you can just hardly describe.The project has opened up a door to this space und suddenly running means more. I know, this all sounds very pathetic, but this is exactly the new part of my emotions for running and the reason for this blog.
To bring myself this experience back to mind, once in a while, I will run the SOL route Herten to Bochum in irregular time intervals. It’s planned to do this once in a month or two. You’re right if you guessed that I will write a blogpost about the runs. Have you planned something similar? Probably on one of the other routes or do you run them within your regular training? Let me know!
To really find an end now, I want to thank the whole team which was in charge of organising speed of light ruhr for this great opportunity of being part of this project. Every runner has quickly found its place in this big group and became part of the whole thing. In my opinion everything works great (like catering, supporting the runners, technical equipment, transport etc). Many thanks to the Ruhr Tourismus GmbH for bringing this project to the Ruhrgebeat and make the runners move in a totally different way, without any thought of competition. Last but not least I want to congratulate NVA with the team around Angus Farquahr on the idea for speed of light, who (Angus) realised his big dream to bring together running and arts.