Sports enthusiasts from the St. Ludwig parish in Darmstadt and their pastor Wendelin Meissner, impressed by the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, had the idea of encouraging people to donate to social projects in the parish through an extraordinary sporting performance. The parish announced the first 24-hour run. Registered teams, then three in number, sent their runners alternately for 24 hours on a 400-meter-long circuit in a green area in the center of Darmstadt, which is now a shopping center ( Luisencenter) stands. For every lap completed by a runner or for the interim or overall performance of a team, spectators, sponsors and parishioners donated an obolus for the charitable purpose.
The organizers' motto: We want your best - your money. But we don't want it for free. Reward our performance with a donation so that we can do good with it , helped the first 24-hour run to be a success. Nevertheless, this action remained a one-time event for the time being.
Pastor Meissner got a pastor's position in the Rodgau district of Jügesheim in 1973 . When, in 1980, on the initiative of young people and young adults to organize joint free time for handicapped and non-handicapped children and young people, the association “ Together with Behinderten Rodgau e. V. ”, the then chairwoman of the association, Regina Kriebel, took up the idea of the 24-hour run and put it into practice.
On August 29, 1981, with the starting shot of the first Rodgau 24-hour run, in which 16 teams took part, the almost unbelievable success story of the annual event began.
The Rodgau 24-hour run begins on the first or second Saturday in September at 12 noon and ends exactly after 24 hours on the following Sunday. Any number of teams with a minimum of five and a maximum of ten participants can register. Only one runner from each team is allowed to be on the 400 meter long running track. The teams decide for themselves how many laps their runner does before he is replaced by another team member. A simple procedure (chip in the baton, early chip insertion) is used to count the laps that a team completes within the specified 24 hours. Wheelchair users can also take part in the runs. Individual runners without a team membership are also allowed.
The number of rounds already run is always an indicator of the willingness of the public and sponsors to donate. It is popular to favor a team and spend 10 € cents per lap run. Others (mostly sponsors) offer a fixed, higher amount if a specified number of laps or donations is reached or exceeded at a certain time. The name of the donor is always announced by loudspeaker announcement, unless they want to remain anonymous.
Through the interaction of the athletic ambition of the runners and teams on the one hand and the enthusiasm of the public on the other hand, the goal of raising the highest possible donation sum is achieved. Spectators and active people alike contribute to the success and thus to the realization of the goals of the association, such as the construction of the housing complex for the disabled in the center of Jügesheim, which was inaugurated in 2004.
As an example of the success of the 24-hour run, the number of participating teams and the proceeds from donations since 2002 in Rodgau are listed below:
- 2002: 40 teams, generated proceeds of € 101,888.19
- 2003: 43 teams, generated proceeds of € 82,709.22
- 2004: 39 teams, generated proceeds of € 83,125.33
- 2005: 41 teams, generated proceeds of € 77,170.97
- 2006: 40 teams, generated proceeds of € 81,000.00
- 2007: 42 teams, generated proceeds of € 101,500.00
- 2008: 38 teams, generated proceeds of € 102,588.00
- 2009: 37 teams, proceeds generated € 106,113.21
- 2010: 31 teams, generated proceeds of € 101,700.00
- 2011: 46 teams, generated proceeds of € 130,500.00
- 2012: 44 teams, generated proceeds € 180,229.00
- 2013: 31 teams, generated proceeds of € 115,000.00
- 2014: 41 teams, generated revenue of € 141,847.27
- 2015: 38 teams, generated proceeds of € 128,662.00
Spread the idea
In the meantime, others have taken up the idea of the Rodgau 24-hour run and successfully implemented it. The association “Together with Disabled People Rodgau e. V. “has helped with planning and implementation in several cases, for example in Hochheim am Main .
There have been other 24-hour races in Germany for some years, for example in Alzey , Bad Driburg , Bernau near Berlin , Delmenhorst , Geisenfeld , Karlsruhe , Kyritz , Minden , Mühltal -Traisa, Norderstedt , Reichenbach / V. , Remscheid-Lüttringhausen , Schwetzingen , Stadtoldendorf , Uhingen and on the Brocken and in Switzerland in Basel , in Austria in Wörschach and amKlopeiner See , in the Netherlands in Apeldoorn , in Greece in Loutraki and in France in Mulhouse .
Since 1988, the 24-hour German championships have been held in different locations in northern Germany . However, they do not primarily serve charitable purposes; the focus is on athletic performance. These championships are assigned to the ultra-marathon area .