She puts the photos and certificates from her runs back into the Leitz folder, which documents her career as a marathon runner. It all started in 1989 on the Brocken in the Harz Mountains.
She doesn’t like to remember that time. The turning point marks a cut in her life. Her marriage failed and she lost her well-paid job as a planner at the Bau-Akademie. She says: “There was no more work. Everything that was competition for the West has disappeared with unity. Gone, gone, gone.”
Running saved her from the turning hole
Retraining, advanced training, odd jobs. Her life went off the rails. Eichner is like many other people in the east: they fall into a hole. You can see it in her apartment. There’s a card on her fridge that shows a hole. It gapes in the middle of a road. It says: “Just don’t whine … even if it’s difficult.”
Running got her out of that hole. She says: “Running fills a lot. Running makes you happy. It distracts you from difficulties. Gives you inner peace.” You forgot the credit. The applause she gets when she arrives at her destination. It’s important to her, she makes no secret of it.
She didn’t make it onto the red carpet at the last Berlin marathon. After six hours, the organizer had blocked the finish – she was too slow. Eichner is getting louder now. “I don’t think it’s okay that an old person is left behind even though you pay the entry fee.” Nothing like this has ever happened to her, regardless of whether she ran in Berlin, New York or Dubai – or at 58 degrees through the desert in Death Valley in the US state of Nevada.
Fleeing a bear in Alaska
Even running fans ask themselves, shaking their heads: does it have to be? Eichner says she wants to prove herself: what others can do, I’ve been able to do for a long time.” You can imagine Sigrid Eichner as a woman who doesn’t allow herself any weaknesses. Of course, she also stopped a run because she twisted her ankle was or just couldn’t anymore.
She hasn’t forgiven herself for that. Once, it was in Alaska, a bear crossed their path. She says he was only ten or four feet away. “I just walked by.” She didn’t have time to be afraid. She says she learned afterwards that this bear had already killed people who had invaded its territory.
Sigrid Eichner has already circumnavigated the earth four times. Running has helped her find her way to a country she says is no longer hers. Keep going.
Walk on the former border
No, she doesn’t want the GDR back, she says. But it hurts her that, as a woman from the east, she gets 200 euros less in pension than other people from the west in her salary bracket. She says: “Hey, we worked hard.”