The Rennsteig is a ridgeway on the high ground of the Thuringian Forest, the Thuringian Slate Mountains and the Franconian Forest. It extends 168.3 km in northwest-to-southeast direction between the rivers Werra and Saale.
In mid-May every year it magically attracts over ten thousand trail enthusiasts from Germany and all over the world. They are participants in the GutsMuths-Rennsteiglauf race. What once was an adventure taken by four Jena students has in over 40 years developed into one of the major German running events.
But what makes it so special?
Germany’s Largest Scenic Running Event
The 73.9km Supermarathon is started as early as 6 a.m. in Eisenach, the city of the Wartburg Castle. Counting nearly 2,500 participants it sees more ultramarathoners than any other event in Germany.
Then, when there is a helicopter circling above Neuhaus am Rennweg and the Snow Waltz sounding, the Marathon is about to start at 9 a.m. for its 42.2 kilometres and 1,403 meters elevation change. Its finish line closing after nine hours makes this the ideal first race for marathon newbies.
The start of the Halfmarathon is as early as 7:30 a.m. in the Thuringian winter sports capital of Oberhof. In terms of participants this is the strongest race on the Rennsteig, attracting more than 7000 runners. Hiking/Nordic Walking courses (17 K and 42 K ) and Trail Racs for Kids (1 to 9 K) and the Rennsteig-Special-Cross for people with intellectual disability (3.7 km) complete the event’s multifarious popular sports programme.
Schmiedefeld is the World’s Greatest Finish
The backdrop to the unforgettable moment of crossing the finish line is not a city of grand buildings. Schmiedefeld – the world’s greatest finish – is a place of not even 2,000 inhabitants. Its sports ground is not called stadium or arena. A village of containers and tents is set up on the site. The showers only are in a permanent building. The atmosphere at the party in the evening after the race is legendary.
Dumpling Party, Oatmeal Gruel and Köstritzer Schwarzbier
Also the food before, during and after the race differs from that at the city marathons. On the eve of the race, instead of having a pasta party, Thuringian potato dumplings are served with goulash or beef rolls – free of charge, by the way. During the race the runners can replenish their stores not only by means of energy bars and gels, there is also clear soup and bread with cold cuts or dripping. The Rennsteig magic potion is oatmeal gruel. And the beer after the finish line is not a white brand, but Köstritzer Schwarzbier black lager, in fact regional products are given priority throughout, not least to cut transport distances.
Gorgeous Scenery and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Whether in starting the Supermarathon in Eisenach at the foot of Wartburg Castle or running the Marathon course in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Vessertal, the Rennsteiglauf race offers live experience of our UNESCO World and Natural Heritage sites. We invite you to enjoy the cultural offer and the countryside of Thuringia also before and after the running event.
Records and Tradition
The quest for records is not such a priority that runners would be paid to participate specifically for that purpose. No prize money is paid to winners. The runners give their all on the course nevertheless. The course record for the 72.7 km is 04:50:56 hrs and is held by Thuringian runner Christian Seiler.
Little wonder that those who have participated in such a folk sporting festival will be back. The registration office has recorded over 850 runners who have participated 25 or more times. If you feel like running through the beautiful Thuringian Forest, why not register for one of the courses offered – and become part of the Rennsteiglauf family!
When does the GutsMuths-Rennsteiglauf race take place?
48th GutsMuths-Rennsteiglauf on 2. & 3. October 2021
49th GutsMuths-Rennsteiglauf on 20 May 2022
Where do I get more information?
Request information/registration forms by post from:
D-98528 Suhl, OT Schmiedefeld a. R.
Info by Telephone: +49 – 36782 – 61237
Info/Registration by Fax: +49 – 36782 – 6427