With passion to the finish line – at the New York marathon and at work

Company | Corporate culture | People at thyssenkrupp | Never giving up. Always taking the next step. Developing a strategy - how quickly do I approach the first few metres? Can I handle the last kilometres? The unconditional will to reach the finish line. Many characteristics of passionate marathon runners are also indispensable for being successful at work, says Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of thyssenkrupp Elevator. Right before the prestigious New York Marathon, he talks about his personal experiences during the race, which took him 42.195 kilometers through the American metropolis.

Why did you decide to take part in the New York Marathon?

The New York Marathon is one of the oldest and most famous marathons. New York is a fascinating city. From the marathon course you can see a lot of the city; it’s just a beautiful run.

What is so special about the marathon through New York?

The special thing about the marathon in New York is that it starts in New Jersey and then it goes on to the Verrazano-Narrows-Bridge leading to New York. You run through many districts -for example Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens – until you finally cross the finish line in Manhattan’s Central Park. It is a very touristic and relatively demanding route. The marathon runners don’t really like the many bridges, as the routes are usually quite long and steep. The bridges in New York are partly quite dark. Depending on whether you run on the upper or lower level, you run for a relatively long time in a black hole and don’t really know where you are. That can be quite a challenge.

The runners at the New York marathon get to experience the city in a really unique way.The runners at the New York marathon get to experience the city in a really unique way.

New York Marathon: An early arrival pays off

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?

The feeling of crossing the finish line is the same in all marathons. Relief, because you have finished. Until you’re really happy, it usually still takes a few hundred meters. But I have to say that the flair and the motivation from the spectators is simply unique in New York. It has the advantage that all the time the people stand at the track and cheer on the runners. In some parts of the city even bands play. You don’t have that in all marathons; it’s motivating. And finishing the marathon is just a great thing.

What advice would you give to the runners who will be there this year?

Make sure you arrive early. Last year there were almost 60,000 runners. They start in two separate start areas. And since you have to go to New Jersey to start, the traffic is pretty heavy in the morning. Back then we left the hotel at 2 o’clock in the morning to start at 8 o’clock or to get to the starting area at all. You have the same challenge afterwards when you finish in Central Park. It can take a long time to get out of there.

Last year, almost 60,000 runners participated in the world's most popular marathon.Last year, almost 60,000 runners participated in the world’s most popular marathon.

Success is an act of the mind

How much does marathon running depend on the right attitude?

The most important thing – reaching the finish line – is an act of the mind. It depends less on having a well-trained body. At some point, probably no later than the kilometer 30 mark, you will hit the wall. There are hardly any cheering people on the sidelines; the field of runners has cleared; and it’s just you on your own. Your knees ache, your head is empty – and you ask yourself: “What am I doing here? Why did I sign up for this marathon?” At this point comes a very personal decision that no one else can make for you: Do you keep running despite the pain – or give up?

Is running a marathon like running a large company – but with different means?

You have two sources of energy when running a marathon – carbs and burning fat. You need to combine both intelligently in order to reach your goal. First, it’s a classic engineering problem, the kind we are happy to solve in our company. And it’s the same for managers and marathon runners: It’s easy to sign up and get started, and it’s easy to set up a training or business plan. But sticking to it, even in bad weather, when you’re tired, when you have setbacks. This is the kind discipline that is exciting, and that applies to everyone, not just a CEO.

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