Whether you’re running through the desert from LA to Vegas, from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean across Cape Town, or if you’re racing 21K over the flat roads of Berlin, there often comes a moment when you hit a wall and think, “This isn’t it. I’m out. I’m done.” Fortunately, we know that we’re not alone in feeling this way. There are countless like-minded runners and crews around the world, and that knowledge can inspire us to keep pushing forward until we find our next moment of happiness. May that be that one curve that leads to the next, your favorite cheering zone, or eventually the finish line.
Crew-running and hosting weekends around your hometown race is all about being together and tapping into each-others energy. Yes, that’s something real. We love seeing how people all over the world know how to support and inspire others from their posts on Instagram to joining and hosting the physical shakeouts and afterparties.
It’s amazing that what Mike Saes and Charlie Dark started back in Berlin in 2012 still lives on today. Things have certainly changed, like everything, when the mainstream kicks in or people taste any kind of success but the love and support we give and receive from each other during race weekends is something special, that can’t be beaten by anything. We’re all in this together, and we hope that the right people keep pushing things forward so the original spirit of “bridge the gap” never fades away.
Following the first races of the season, the founder of the Braves Joey Elgersma had the chance to sit down with eight brave runners and hear about their experiences and thoughts. Some have been around for years and some ran their first half.
During our conversation, we also discussed where we as a club and community can improve. As much as we strive to support and uplift each other, there’s always room for growth and development. By working together and making concerted efforts towards progress, we can continue to build a stronger and more supportive running community. Locally and Internationally.
WHO ARE YOU? PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF.
My name is Diane and I’m originally from France. I relocated to Berlin 4.5 years ago and started running with the Braves in September 2020. Started from the bottom and now we here shooting with Dennis ^ for Oakley.
Gaetan, 28, on dating apps but 29 years old IRL. Moved to Berlin way too long ago, buyer, dog daddy, diabetic type 1, and runner again since January 2022.
My name is Katie. I am 27 years old and originally from Philadelphia PA! I’ve been living in Berlin for 3.5 years and a part of the Braves for 2 of them, Not sure what I was doing before them! I started running at 15 and haven’t stopped since.
My name is Uche Agada, and I am an Athlete from around the world. I moved to Berlin in August 2022 and have been brave since.
My name is Jide. I migrated to Berlin 10 yrs from down south and I’ve been with the Braves since 2021.
Cheers, my name is Simon. I’m 29 years old born and raised in the Austrian mountains and I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary in Berlin this year and my 5-year anniversary with the Braves.
I am Friederike from Berlin ~ on the run with the Braves for almost 4 years now.
My name is Sia. I’m 23 years old – born and raised in Berlin and have been running with the Braves since 2021
And I am Jacky aka Jacqnoise. And From The Netherlands. I live in Berlin for 4 years now and I make music. I’ve been part of the Braves since 2020
RUNNING SUCKS. RUNNERS DON’T.
Do you agree or disagree?
Uche: Running can suck sometimes up until you disconnect the conscious mind from the task of running. Only then it becomes invigorating and freeing. The blessing of being able to move with speed.
Katie: I disagree – running is amazing. I mean, yeah sometimes it sucks when you have to wake up hungover on a Sunday morning to meet your crazy friends at 9.30 for a long run. But that feeling afterward & the people make it all worth it.
Simon: For me running always sucks at some point. it’s hard to go out there every day and train. and even when you train there’s always a moment when you wanna quit. BUT! And here comes the but runners don’t suck. my homies keep me going. no matter the run – if my people are there running is fun. always.
Friederike: Running does suck sometimes and so are we as runners (if we get very nerdy) But if you meet us outside of running you will understand that we actually don’t suck at all. It’s fun so come and run with us.
Sia: Running will certainly always suck and hurt at some point, that is just the way it is. Runners tend to suck less often if you surround yourself with the right people
IS RUNNING A TEAM SPORT FOR YOU?
Diane: It definitely is. Of course, you have to do the work yourself, you have to believe in yourself and want it for yourself, but your team makes you stronger. We suffer together, support each other, and cheer for each other.
I would not have been able to run my first half-marathon in 1h40 2 years ago without someone pacing me and without some Braves pushing through every training session (and without Jansen waking me up at 8 on Saturdays mornings while it’s -16 outside to do our long runs).
Simon: Both. I love my community runs. the energy, the vibes, and the connection with people through a shared passion. but I am also a bit of a lonely wolf sometimes. I love to stray away from the pack and do my long runs alone. so in a way yes it’s a team sport that allows you to still do your own thing.
Uche: I’ve always used running as a means to have an advantage over my opponent, coming from basketball. So it never felt to be a sport by itself for me, let alone a team sport. I had to focus on my individual performance. But after preparing for and running my first Half Marathon, I can honestly say I completely relied on the community/team to not only accept the challenge but also to complete it.
Gaetan: Believe it or not, running is a sport that’s all about the team! There’s nothing like training alongside your fellow runners, vibing with your crew, and watching your friends crush their goals and celebrate together. But personally, I’m also about that solo running life too. It’s the perfect balance between being part of a group and getting in some crucial “me time”. Running is my equilibrium between being surrounded and feeling fulfilled on my own.
Jacky: Look at the Braves! Without them, I won’t be running track sessions, and I won’t have understood why running a race is much fun and such a personal achievement. And without them, I would not have realized I have grown as a personal runner also more important, I realized cheering and bringing the mindset is as important as running with the team.
WHAT DOES COMMUNITY MEAN TO YOU?
Diane: Community to me means sharing, cooperating, communicating, supporting, and caring. Hugs. Smiles. Love.
Uche: Community to me means Momentum. A collective energy that pushes you forward – physically, emotionally, and mentally. This push can happen in the most subtle ways. It’s everything.
Simon: To me, the community is very related to the family. my chosen family. it’s rooted in supporting each other. contribution and passion. we stand together. we fall together. we open up a space for everyone to be their true self. that’s the goal no?
Friederike: Communal thinking and moving collectively towards a common goal from within.
Katie: Merrian Webster defines a community as a group of people with a common characteristic. But it is so much more than that – it is having a group of people who support each other and allow you to feel at home without being physically home. People who celebrate you, and your accomplishments without jealousy and want you to be/do your best.
WHAT DOES “BRAVE” MEAN TO YOU?
Katie: Challenging yourself even if it means you might fail. It’s being comfortable with discomfort. It’s having those hard conversations, setting those ambitious goals, getting out of your comfort zone
Jide: Not accepting limitations but constantly pushing and challenging yourself.
Gaetan: Being brave is about finding the strength within yourself to overcome fear and achieve your goals, no matter what challenges you may encounter along the way. Being a Berlin Brave means doing that while looking sexy, and knowing how to party!
Diane: It’s having this « Just do it » attitude – without having to weigh the pros and cons before taking action. Accepting challenges, doing what needs to be done. Daring.
Uche: Being Brave to me is being Honest. Saying yes to that voice inside that challenges you but also listening when it says no. The courage to be who you really are.
Sia: Being brave means getting out there and doing things that are uncomfortable, not having a guarantee they will turn out for good but knowing they’re the right thing to do.
Simon: To be kind. I think in today’s world that values the individual sometimes more than the collective, it’s so easy to put your own needs above others. so to take a step back and be kind, generous, and supportive is being brave.
Jacky: Funny enough I now have a totally different meaning of the word Brave compared to 4 years ago. First to be brave meant for me, overstepping the moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. But this totally shifts towards having the courage to be vulnerable. Especially feeling this after the workshops with Sha Hussain from Be More You.
AND WHAT DO THESE TWO THINGS HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER? COMMUNITY x BRAVE
Uche: Summing this up is difficult but for my personal journey it has taken courage to be part of a community. In a community, you have to trust other people and be vulnerable. That’s difficult. That’s brave.
Sia: A community is the safety net that will catch you when you slip and fall because not always everything turns out the way we want and plan it to. It is easier being brave and getting out there again if you got the right people surrounding you than being on your own.
Katie: Community encourages you to be brave. They are there for you when you fail (and of course when you succeed
Diane: I’m not always the brave one – I tend to overthink and question everything all the time. Since I’ve started to run with the Braves I’m working on this « Just do it » attitude. It’s a work in progress.
Simon: being brave and community is intertwined for me. it all boils down to sharing love and being there for each other. we share this energy through running.
HOW MANY MARATHONS (HALF) HAVE COMPLETED AND WHERE DOES THE BERLIN HALF AKA HOMIES HALF RANK FOR YOU?
Uche: I have completed my first Half Marathon and that was this year’s HOMIES HALF. It was an amazing and heartwarming experience. The race was tough for me. Much harder than I expected.🏅
Katie: 6 in total but this one was my favorite (and fastest). I set a goal of sub-90 and managed 1.27.30 and couldn’t be happier with this PB.
Simon: This was my 6th half and the Berlin Half ’23 has a very special place for two reasons: a) I went into the race 6 days after completing 100k at ‘the speed project’ in California and coming back to Berlin 24 hours before the start and then there is b) the most special part: is that I was allowed to pace my dear friend Ruben. it is the most special thing to pace someone and share an experience. That’s love.
Jide: This was my 5th race, I was injured for a long time and the only goal I set for the Homies Half ’23 was to simply enjoy it without pressure and take in all the emotions.
Friederike: I just completed my first ultra-marathon in Cape Town. Yeah 🙂 4 full marathons and a lot of half marathons. I am running half marathons since my twenties. I ran this year a new PB unexpectedly. It felt amazing knowing that my loved ones and Braves are cheering for me.
Jacky: I ran 4, and this ranks as my nr. 2. It feels like a homecoming. A weekend where we took the time to spend time with each other and count down to the start of the new year.
WHAT WAS THE MOST FUN MOMENT OF THE HOMIES HALF FOR YOU?
Diane: The shake-out run in the heavy storm. Everyone was smiling and making jokes although it was raining cats and dogs. I think it was so much fun.
Simon: Meeting everyone at the afterparty. when you are run & done and you just get to hang out and dance all evening long.
Gaetan: After the race, hitting up the Berlin Braves Cheer zone and getting drunk on the spot. Cheering on the courageous last runners at the race got me emotional, and happy to see everyone around giving them some strength to keep going.
WHAT CAN WE IMPROVE AS A CLUB/COMMUNITY MOVING FORWARD?
Uche: Improvement is inevitable when we’re sincere. Stay sincere, stay brave on the edge of boundaries – not by force but by genuine curiosity.
Katie: Making sure the community is open and accessible for all. We sometimes get caught up in it all and forget our purpose, we are there to run and have fun and make friends (and party occasionally)
Diane: Communicate more transparently and also learn how to step back sometimes – it’s about running with friends and having fun and it should stay like that.
Simon: I would love to see more initiative and co-creation now with our Core Running Group: training, BB gear, events
Sia: I think we just recently improved a lot as a community by becoming an official Verein and allowing more people to take part in our journey and our community to grow.
Jacky: We can improve that general feeling that everyone who runs is a runner. it isn’t about the time, distance, or how many marathons you have finished so far, It’s about if you are there with the team to undertake another journey.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PINK OAKLEY CORRIDORS AKA THE PINK DRIP-FAST DENTIST GLASSES?
Uche: They’re a mood. Oakley stood brave on the edge of the boundaries with these ones. love em!
Katie: so Fresh – can’t wait to run (& rave) in them this summer
Friederike: That’s my new go-to glasses even outside of my running world.
Diane: The first 100% running glasses from them! It was about time.
Simon: Super cute. different vibe than the other fast glasses. The vibe is more casual.
WHAT MADE THE SHOOTING WITH DENNIS BRANKO SPECIAL TO YOU?
Diane: I’ve checked his work before and I was actually intimidated to shoot with him lol! But he was so relaxed and fun, we all had a very good time I think. Also, the fact that we’re not professional models but a real group of friends bonding & running together makes the whole thing more authentic. Looking forward to seeing the analog shots, in particular, analog hits differently.
Simon: Fun. pure fun and easy. no pressure to perform.
Uche: Branko knows how to make anyone comfortable. He’s one of the last originals, to be honest. What I mean by that is the effortlessness in being dope as fuck. I love Dennis, and to be part of something he’s done makes it special for me.
Friederike: We all made a lot of jokes, it felt easy. Like being photographed with your friends. It was like a recap of the half-marathon weekend and the perfect finish.
Jacky: That it was a day that we captured a split second of a lifetime. It almost felt like a birthday for us.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT (TEAM) CHALLENGE?
Diane: I literally received a few minutes ago the following text from Rebekka « I think I’m done with running for now, but let’s start training for Copenhagen half in May? ». Running Sucks. Runners don’t. I guess haha
Simon, Gaetan & Friederike: Border to Hel with our homies from Swords Athletics. I think there are some dues to pay. Yesss!!!!
Sia: Going sub3 with my best friend in my hometown and place of birth – Berlin.
SHOUT OUT TO WHO?
Diane: Katie, Gaetan, Rebekka, Ruben, Musy, Simon, Alassan, Dennis, Joey, Patrick. They all know why!
Simon: Everybody who is killing their races at this point. May it be TSP, Berlin Half, or Two Oceans. all fucking superstars out there.
Katie: Diane,(Both) Simons, Frau Mussy, Diane, Geatan, Mattia, & Joey. Some good quality people here
Uche: Shout out to Joey, man. I get to see the stress he goes through during preparing for all these events because of how much he cares. Shout out to Coach Alex Hipwell from Nike – she’s impressively competent and has created a whole world around her from her aura.
Jacky: You Joey! For the smile that is never disappearing! And everybody supporting the Braves.