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Max Thorwirth: Keine Angst vor der Meile!
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Max Thorwirth: Don't be afraid of the mile!

Why is it always just a marathon? Professional runner Max Thorwirth wants to establish the mile as a competition route for everyone in Germany. With the help of a small team, he sets up the “New Balance Kö Meile” in Düsseldorf. He is not only the race director, but also runs in the races himself. This is a small revolution.

Words: Agata Strausa
Photos: Fellusch

In an interview with Maximiliam Thorwirth

Professional runner for New Balance, deputy athlete spokesman at DLV and critical voice at @auslaufenpodcast . Max Thorwirth lives running and wants to change something in the sport of running. Since last year he has also been organizing a running event, the @nbkoemeile in Düsseldorf, a novelty in Germany that brings a breath of fresh air into the scene.

Instagram: @maximilian_thorwirth

Max Thorwirth is one of the best middle-distance runners in Germany and has become one of the world's best since his eighth place over 3,000 meters at the World Indoor Championships. The man from SFD 75 Düsseldorf-Süd can not only run very fast - he also knows how to organize cool running competitions. The “Kö Meile” in Düsseldorf, which he launched just a year ago, has already established itself as a highlight in the German running calendar. In New Balance he has found a partner who supports him both as a top athlete and as a race director. This year’s edition of the “Kö Meile” was a complete success. You can read how the race went down one of the most famous shopping streets in Germany here .

Shortly before the competition day we met Max at the athletes' hotel in Düsseldorf. While other starters were able to rest in their rooms, the 28-year-old commuted back and forth between the airport, race track and accommodation. Always with your cell phone to your ear to organize the last things before the big day. How does he do that?

more: What is your favorite route to run in competition, Max?

Max: 3,000 meters is the clear answer! The problem remains that they don't exist internationally outdoors. And then between 1,500 and 5,000 meters I would say 1,500 meters, but probably only because the focus is on the 5,000m and that's why I do can approach the 1,500m with a little more ease.

The “Kö Meile” now offers 1,609.34 meters and 5 kilometers. Are these simply the best routes?

These are of course the very best routes! (laughs) But it has more to do with the fact that we have a different concept at the “Kö Meile”. It's not about running longer and longer. We also wanted to create an offer that was all about running fast - everyone for themselves. Many people are still afraid of the mile because they think they have to run so fast. But that's not the point. You can't run 10 kilometers on the Königsallee circuit, which is 1.3 kilometers long. But we don't want to move away from Königsallee either because we want to establish a mood along the route.

How did you come to create this race?

I previously worked on the Düsseldorf Marathon and its predecessor, the Kö Lauf, and noticed that nothing would come of it - after the Corona pandemic. Then I talked to my dad and my brother about it. As is the case with runners, you always have an idea of ​​what you would do differently or better. Then we decided to do it at pretty short notice when the opportunity arose and there wouldn't have been a run otherwise. I thought it was important to be able to offer something for the children and all of Düsseldorf after Corona. We got the whole thing together within four months last year.

What are you doing better than the runs before?

I don't even want to compare it to other runs, whether better or worse. We are very keen to be a bit more modern and we have a very strong affinity for running and athletics in all areas. Whether it's the organizing committee or the individual helpers who stand along the route: they all have a feel for these little things that a runner needs. For us, the focus is on community, being together and celebrating the sport of running. Bringing in the cheering zone, DJ truck and the vibe of the running crews - I think that's what sets us apart. And of course the route! We are the only street mile in Germany.

You are very well connected in Düsseldorf. What role does the community play for you?

The community plays a very big role! Without the Düsseldorf community this wouldn't exist here. We also have the claim, “from the community for the community” - and that’s how it works. Five or six years ago, I had the feeling that the running community in Düsseldorf was pretty dead. We don't have many big clubs or people in top sport, there was no scene. But the Bridge Runners as a running crew have brought a new breath into the city, just like the Kraft Runners now do. The Düsseldorf clubs are also very open to it. For example, my club, the SFD, has already organized a track event with the Bridge Runners. There is also networking between clubs and crews. Düsseldorf, as a sports city, also has a high affinity as a city to support something like this.

“It makes a difference whether a runner sets up the grids or hangs the signs. There’s a different love behind it.””

-Max Thorwirth

It's getting bigger and bigger! There are 15 people in our volunteer core team, five of whom work on this almost every day - even if they still have their normal jobs. There are now almost 200 people on site who are responsible for the various tasks. Others would say it doesn't matter whether a track and field athlete or runner sets up the bars or hangs the signs. But there is a different kind of love behind it than if an agency were to do it. That's why we're very happy that we have so many helpers who support us. You can't do anything here without volunteers. I'm just grateful.

You are not only the race organizer, but also one of the elite starters. How is that for you?

It's a big challenge. The “Kö Meile” is like a start-up, we are dependent on doing a lot of things ourselves and sometimes sitting on something for a long time. Unfortunately, the start-up mentality is exactly the opposite of the competitive athlete mentality, where sleep and regeneration are important. I am very grateful that the team has taken on so much of my work over the course of the year. Of course, the week before the “Kö Meile” is not the perfect week for professional athletes. But I also enjoy it and am happy to experience the mile from a runner's perspective.

“The goal is for the “New Balance Kö Meile” to become a tradition.”

-Max Thorwirth

Could you imagine something like this after your professional career?

I definitely want to do something in the sports events sector. It’s really nice to learn a lot “hands-on” during your career. Of course, you have to see how you can raise the “Kö Meile”. We won't be able to put on an event for ten years where no one earns a cent. The goal is for the “New Balance Kö Meile” to become a tradition. I'll worry about what comes of it professionally in a few years.

Thank you for the interview!

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