The sun slammed onto Odeonsplatz, where the long final sprint on Ludwigstrasse ended. Arriving there after 2:10:21 hours, Richard Ringer pointed a finger at himself questioningly. Did he, the 33-year-old, who hasn’t had any great successes on the marathon route up to now and who nobody had counted on here, at the European Championships in Munich, really won this run over 42.195 kilometers? One from the target area nodded his head. Ringer fell to the hot asphalt, his chest bouncing. Despite the effort, Ringer laughed with happiness.

The German track and field athletes came to the European Championships in Munich from the USA with an embarrassing World Championship result (two medals won). Already after the opening day the frustration seems to be gone. In addition to Ringer’s gold medal, there was also silver for the newly introduced team ranking. The favorite Amanal Petros finished fourth (2:10:31), Johannes Motschmann was 16th (2:14:52).

Shortly before, it had become very loud in downtown Munich. The German marathon runners also defied the heat and completed a strong competition. When Poland’s Aleksandra Lisowska (2:28:36) won, Miriam Dattke (2:28:52) missed a medal by just a blink of an eye when she sprinted against Nienke Brinkman from the Netherlands. Since Domenika Mayer (2:29:21) and Deborah Schöneborn (2:30:35) finished sixth and tenth respectively, Germany’s women won gold in the team classification.

“We wanted a medal, the team was in the front line and we mentally prepared for it. The fact that gold is now coming out in the individual is of course insane,” said Ringer. His teammate Petros helped him. “At kilometer 25 I was a bit off. So he said, ‘Boy hold on’.”

The start of the marathon around midday had been criticized in advance by the runners. Richard Ringer had also expressed his displeasure. The big marathons usually start earlier in summer to avoid the heat. But with the late start, the organizers were primarily concerned with the spectators along the route and in front of the televisions and less with the health of the participants.

In the end, paradoxically, the run on the glowing asphalt paid off, especially for wrestlers. The runner from LC Rehlingen had prepared for the European Championships in the USA. He got used to such temperatures there, he said. Ringer was also perfectly prepared for the race by his supervisors. So he ran in the shadows where there was opportunity. He also temporarily bunkered ice under his cap. For wrestlers, Monday’s success is the reward for a lot of hard work.

Until a few years ago he was one of the best 5,000 and 10,000 meter runners in Europe. But at the age of 30 he tried more and more on longer distances. Such a transition from rail to road running is not uncommon. When it comes to marathon runners, the saying goes: the older the athlete, the longer the distance. “Running on the road doesn’t go as deep into the muscles, I don’t feel it in my calves as much as running on the track – it’s more intense, but shorter,” Ringer once described the difference in an interview with the Tagesspiegel a few years ago.

Now Ringer obviously benefited from his career on the railway line. His final sprint in Munich’s Ludwigstrasse against the Israeli Maru Teferi was spectacular and should be one of the highlights of these European Championships, from a German point of view, of course. If there is anything to criticize about Ringer’s feat, then it is the fact that because of the World Championships a few weeks ago in the USA, many good European athletes did not even come to the competitions in the Bavarian state capital. But that’s not the fault of Richard Ringer.