“Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.” Henry James, The Ambassadors.
Five ambassadors, five host families, five days in Dresden. Dresden Sister City, Inc., which was “organized for the purposes of causing the people of the City of Columbus and the people of the City of Dresden to understand one another as individuals, as members of their community, as citizens of their country, and as part of the family of nations”, chose five ambassadors and five host families to represent our cities for five days as part of their Dresden Marathon Exchange.
Throughout the day on Thursday October 16, 2014, my fellow ambassadors Jamie Glavic, Krista Seibert, Sarah Criss McQuade, Shekhar (Shake) Mahajan, and I, were greeted by our hosts as we arrived in Dresden, Germany. Jamie and I traveled by train from Berlin and were met by Jamie’s host Gundula Glasel, and my host Katrin Lay.
A fascinating tour of Dresden on Friday was followed by a meeting with Dresden officials at the City Museum where we carbo-loaded on an assortment of delicious German cakes. The highlight of my day was meeting my running idol Hans-Dieter Jancker! We had a nice conversation and later he helped me with the packet pick up at the Congress Center.
The Dorint Hotel organized a Saturday morning running tour of Dresden which helped me prepare for the marathon on Sunday. The run was followed by an all-you-can-eat breakfast at the hotel. Later Katrin and I toured the grounds of the Elbe Palaces where I met Katrin’s son.
The big event of course was the Morgenpost Dresden Marathon on Sunday, October 19, 2014. The ambassadors, host families, Dresden officials, and Hans-Dieter Jancker arrived early at the Congress Center to cheer each other on. The 10k started at 10:00, and the half marathon and full marathon started at 10:30. The course followed a picturesque route through Dresden, including Old Town and New Town, with scenic views along the Elbe River. The biggest challenge for me (besides cobble stone streets and tram tracks) was resisting the temptation to stop and take pictures of everything I saw along the way. I finished the marathon in third place for my age group with a personal record of 3:25:04! Katrin and Jesco helped me celebrate that evening by treating me to my favorite food group – pizza! Dinner was followed by a stroll through Old Town and a visit to the magnificent Frauenkirche. The evening was topped off by a congratulatory phone call from Hans-Dieter Jancker!
The fifth day included a breathtaking hike through the national park Sachsische Schweiz (try saying it fast three times, or once) with Katrin and Shake. Relaxing along the Elbe River, we had the best picnic ever thanks to Katrin, and concluded the day with a stop in Pirna, ice cream courtesy of Shake. I spent the rest of the evening slowly and reluctantly packing for my departure on Tuesday.
Dresden is a wonderful modern city with beautiful parks, historic buildings, and friendly people; most notably my hosts Katrin Lay, Jesco Huhle, and Biene. I am very lucky to have met such nice people willing to share five days of their life with me. They showed me the sites of Dresden and Saxony, introduced me to their family and friends, and treated me like royalty, as if I were August the Strong.
My life is usually very ordinary but for five days my life in Dresden, Germany was extraordinary!