Running as a team sport? "I didn't learn it any other way!"
Björn Menges meets Marco Prüfer, founder of Kiez Kaffee Kraft. Besides really good coffee, Marco's passion is running. He has run countless marathons. One of them has changed his life permanently.
We met Marco Prüfer at his Kiez Kaffee Kraft in Prenzlauer Berg, which he founded nine years ago. His running career in Berlin also began around that time: as a pacer with a Nike running group. Later, Marco founded his own running crew, the Kraft Runners. In the meantime, Marco has left the group behind - his coffee business and family are now his main focus. Nevertheless, he is still committed to running. The Berlin Marathon in particular plays a special role in his life.
Björn: You used to work in marketing at Bayer, didn't you? How did it come about that you said, I'm leaving all that and making a café?
Marco: I've always done something on the side, even in school. I had a blog at 16 and printed T-shirts with the brand. I thought, if I want to do something independently, then I have to study business administration. I didn't really think about the pharmaceutical industry, but then I realized that it wasn't really my thing.
I thought to myself during my studies, what can I do? The place where I thought about it a lot was usually a café. That's where this love for the place came from. Not necessarily primarily to the drink, but to the place. Kiez Kaffee Kraft is therefore for me a place that has grown around the drink, a safe space.
You co-founded a running crew around 2016. What inspired you to found the Kraft Runners?
At the time, there was only the Berlin Braves in Berlin, but we didn't have a connection there. However, we didn't want to compete as Nike Pacers in the half marathon or 10-kilometer race. We wanted to show in the competition that we were a group of friends, and we wanted to give ourselves a name. We had some pretty bad ideas for names back then, which (thankfully) never made it to the public. We mostly met at the Kiez Kaffee Kraft during this period of brainstorming, so we said we'd be the Kraft Runners, "keep it simple".
When you see these pictures of the first "Speedproject", what comes to your mind?
For me, the Speedproject is the best memory I have related to running. It was an incredibly awesome experience with the gang.
I got to be part of the second Speedproject, but seeing the pictures from the first one, it seemed more natural to me. What was the difference for you?
The second time, we already knew what to expect and made a big fuss about it. We had a guy fly in and tape a bus for us, a videographer came with us, there was a documentary about it. The first time was more spontaneous and free. It was just a different experience.
You have two cafés in Berlin now. Where else would you open a café if you had a free choice?
I have a family and two children who should also go to school in Germany.
If you were completely free!
Los Angeles! I think LA is pretty awesome. Greece is also pretty nice, Italy - there are a lot of nice places. But I really like this sporty lifestyle of L.A.. You wake up in the morning and think the whole beach is full of joggers and cyclists, volleyball players and soccer players.
Would you say running is a team sport?
Definitely, I didn't learn it any other way. Back in America we trained as a team [Marco was on the track team in high school, ed.] and even here I always prefer to go track or run with someone. Sometimes it's also nice to run for yourself as a time out, as a sort of meditation from everyday life. But if you ever go on a track and someone is running with you, then you're still faster or add another repetition. That always helps.
This picture combines running and family at the very best and I was allowed to be there.
I have to explain the picture again. Björn and I have been friends for a long time. Why didn't you run a marathon yourself back then?
Marathon was always too far for me...
But you said you paced me. Then somehow the idea came up that I had to propose to my wife during the marathon. You were so nice and then waited a short while. I didn't take that long either, I don't think. So I proposed at mile 10. That connects us pretty much - you were my marriage spacer.
Was that one of the best moments in sports for you?
The marathon, my family, my wife and kids.... It turned out that way: The first time I ran the marathon, my wife was standing there with her sister's son. As I ran by, I thought, someday she will have our child in her arms. Then I knew I wanted to marry her. I then waited a year and proposed. And then the next year she had our son in her arms, he was a few months old. And at the last marathon, there were two of them: my daughter, who is now nine months old, my son, who will soon be four, and my wife. We have a history of running marathons.
Thanks a lot for the interview, Marco!
Five quick questions for Marco:
Best coffee shop you've had outside of Café Kraft?
Father Carpenter in Mitte has always impressed me.
A month without coffee or a month without a cell phone?
I could easily manage a month without coffee. A month without a cell phone would be totally awesome. It would be good for my soul. Maybe I'll do both.
Do you have an idol?
I was allowed to meet Eliud Kipchoge after the Berlin Marathon and was very impressed by him and his vision.
Do you have any running goals for 2023?
I'm running a half marathon and maybe want to run 1:22. I also want to run a marathon, definitely under three hours, maybe something like 2:50.
- Which race would you like to run?
I would like to run on the trail, see more countryside!