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Berlin New Year's Eve Run

A very unique place

The course of the Berlin New Years Run is steeped in history

The end of 2023 is slowly approaching—and with it the chance to crown the year in sporting style. In Berlin, a very unique place has been attracting the running community to the end-of-year run for many years. The Berlin New Year’s Eve Run has it all. On the one hand, its hilly terrain is unique. As flat as Berlin is, two rubble mountains, Teufelsberg and its twin, the Drachenfliegerberg next to it, tower over the city. And secondly, it is home to a unique piece of history—or rather its resting place.

Berlin New Year's Eve Run: View of Berlin from the Drachenfliegerberg @ SCC EVENTS / Sportograf
The Drachenfliegerberg offers a wonderful view of Berlin

Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), Teufelssee (Devil’s Lake), but no devil

Today, weathered radar stations from the Cold War stand at the top of the 120-meter-high Teufelsberg—now embellished with impressive street art. You might actually think of the devil when you look at this eerie legacy. But the name has nothing to do with the history of the mountain, it comes from the nearby Teufelssee, which was formed during the Ice Age. In any case, the mountains are nothing more than huge piles of debris that were created when the rubble from the completely destroyed Berlin had to be disposed of somewhere after 1945 and was transported into the Grunewald Forest. In the process, a former Nazi building, the Faculty of Defense Engineering (Wehrtechnische Fakultät), which was never completed, was simply filled in.

Berlin New Year's Eve run: Weathered radar stations from the Cold War stand on the Teufelsberg @ SCC EVENTS / Sportograf
Weathered radar stations from the Cold War stand on the Teufelsberg

Many rumors and little truth

Nowhere else could the US secret service intercept radio communications from the Eastern Bloc as well as from this lofty height in the Grunewald Forest, where the huge facility, the “Ear of America”, soon was established. Everything that took place there remains top secret to this day. There was even a huge document incineration plant to ensure that nothing got out (some things did, of course, because Berlin was the capital of spies). Every suspicious movement was registered. In the event of war, there was a plan to blow up the entire facility. The US soldiers naturally asked themselves: What are their actual plans for us? This gave rise to rumors about bunkers, tunnel exits and much more. There is no truth to any of it, however.

An ended project amid boos and ridicule

The only thing to be found under the Teufelsberg are the dormant walls of the Nazi faculty—and they have also slowly been forgotten. A strange situation developed in the 1990s when the Cold War was over and the radar station had been swept clean, when an odd indo-philosophical foundation led by horror film director David Lynch purchased the mountain. They wanted to build a “Tower of Invincibility” (a name which echoed of the Third Reich), which drew boos and ridicule when it was presented, and shortly after the first stone was laid, the project was abruptly ended.

Berlin New Year's Eve run: Aerial view of a runner in the middle of forest and nature on Teufelsberg @ SCC EVENTS / Sportograf
Lots of forest and nature on and around the Teufelsberg

It has to stay fun—even on the Teufelsberg

Less bizarre things go down on New Years Eve: The course of the Berlin New Years Eve Run is designed to be fun for everyone, whether running in costume or already getting ready for the evening parties. The best costumes even get rewarded. And this is not a race to focus too much on speed—as some training theory goes, the winners of spring cannot be the winners of winter. At the end of the race, donuts await all the finishers—most filled with jam, with a few surprise ones filled with mustard ... it has to stay fun.