13.07.1983

Creativity and Sport – The Finnbahn meeting gets off to a running start

Sports festival atmosphere above the University at Morgenbreede: On 13 July 1983, Professor Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer cuts the white ribbon to open the new 500m natural running track of the Department of Sports Science. Better known to most as the “Finnbahn”, the track cost 200,000 DM to build.  

  • Opening of the Finnbahn with the 1st Finnbahn meeting on 13 July 1983. Rektor Professor Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer (centre) cuts the ribbon to start the relay race.

    Photo: Helga Wehmeyer
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00795
  • Rektor Professor Dr. Karl Peter Grotemeyer (left) presents the team of the Department of Sports Science the winner’s trophy of the 1st Finnbahn meeting on 13 July 1983. Standing next to Grotemeyer is Professor Dr. Dietrich Kurz, the “father” of the Finnbahn.

    Photo: Helga Wehmeyer
    Source: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00794
  • Professor Dr. Dietrich Kurz, the “father” of the Finnbahn, (nr 51) hands over the baton at the 7th Finnbahn meeting on 7 june 1989.

    Fotografin: Norma Langohr
    Quelle: Universitätsarchiv Bielefeld, FOS 00472

The new university facility was the initiative of Professor Dr. Dietrich Kurz, Professor of Sports and Education at Bielefeld University since 1978. Thanks to its bark mulch surface, the track is easy on the joints. Kurz made it clear that the Finnbahn was open to all Bielefeld residents, as long as they did not use it to walk their four legged friends or as a circuit for off-road motor sports. On its opening day, Kurz launched the very first faculty relay race – the Finnbahn meeting. In the presence of Grotemeyer and Kurz, the team from Sports Sciences completed twenty laps and won the cup, which they themselves had donated.

Report from Campus TV on the Finnbahn meeting 2016 with the founder, Professor Dr. Dietrich Kurz, reflecting on the meeting’s beginnings.

Quelle: Universität Bielefeld, Campus TV 2016

Creative names and great sporting achievements

The number of participating relay teams has increased over the years from seven to more than thirty at each annual meeting. Spectator interest in seeing fellow students, colleagues, professors and management compete has also grown enormously. Many teams run in fancy dress outfits or with appropriately witty and self-ironic names for a university: “Faster Than You Think” (Central Administration) compete against the “Bundle of Nerves” from Biology, “Achilles and the Tortoises” (Philosophy) measure up against the “Health Angels” from Health Sciences.

In 1993, the „μden Quanten“ team of the Physics Department set a track record, showing that as well as being a fun event, seriousness and ambition could also play a part in the Finnbahn meeting. For the first (but not last) time, the multiple-winning Physics Department deployed a winner of the ‘Hermannslauf’ race. From other departments came talk that fast (but unacademic) runners became guest students overnight and at enormous financial outlay so that the team could win the coveted trophy.