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14 Oct 2018

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‘Integration through Running’

A GENERALI MUNICH MARATHON initiative

Every person is different and unique. We should not only recognise this, but also see it as a plus. Promoting and integrating diversity is one of the social commitments of the GENERALI MUNICH MARATHON. Not only is running healthy, but it also brings people of different generations and cultures together. The ‘Integration through Running’ initiative will run for its third year in a row from July. Refugees have run and played an active role in organising the event, and will continue to do so this year.

In summer 2015, Munich was the first point of contact for people who had fled their homeland due to war and poverty, with thousands arriving at Munich’s main station every day aboard special trains. A few weeks later they assisted with the even as helpers over the marathon weekend. Some even ventured onto the route itself, taking part in the marathon, half-marathon or 10km run. In conjunction with Munich social services and various charitable organisations, we put together a special programme aimed at the integration of refugees.

“Young refugees had always been in the position of having to accept help – they weren’t able to give anything back,” says Gernot Weigl, recalling the eagerness that the refugees brought to their efforts towards the event. Together with members of various Bavarian clubs, they manned refreshment stands along the route and were responsible for organisational tasks within the Olympia Stadium.

Besides shaping the whole image of the MUNICH MARATHON that year as friendly helpers, in 2015 and 2016 a total of 76 refugees also numbered among the runners.  The programme included a special training session that was also open to anyone else who was interested in the run-up to the marathon, under the banner of ‘Integration through Running’.

Wristbands bearing this slogan were sold at the Marathon Fair in the Olympia Hall and in the online shop, and last year the proceeds and sponsorship money allowed the Munich Social Services to earmark 30,000 euros for supporting refugees.

“Munich is a great example of how running can help us to address the major humanitarian issues of our time,” says Paco Borao, President of AIMS, which represents over 400 race event organisers around the world. In previous years, the organisation’s Social Award has been won by the Tokyo Marathon and the Great Ethiopian Run.

“We have made new friends and seen how moved the people of Munich have been by the plight of the refugees,” says Gernot Weigl, Race Director for the MUNICH MARATHON. It goes without says that Munich will continue with the ‘Integration through Running’ project. “In fact, we’re going to extend it,” reports Gernot Weigl. “Inclusion will be a hot topic for 2017. Going forward, we also want to promote the integration of people with disabilities at the MUNICH MARATHON.”

Thanks to the charitable efforts of Munich Airport, this year will once again see refugees and people with physical disabilities take part in the GMM 2018 and play an active role in the organisation of the event. DRKS wristbands will also be on sale for 5 euros. All of the proceeds will go towards the German Foundation for Children with Rheumatism (DKRS). Taking part really pays off, as with your help, kids with rheumatism can take part in races like the GMM relay and reach the finish line together. You can order the charity wristbands when you register online and pick them up from the DKRS stand at the GMM Sports Fair.