To be exact, Katrin Bruck’s journey to the marathon began with the Team Relay in 2007. When a few of her colleagues announced that they would be participating in the 5x5 km relay, she decided to cheer them on with the drumming group “Wasabi Daiko” that she had founded a year earlier.
The large Japanese drums and the exotic combination of rhythms and movement were well received at the relay. “It was so much fun for everyone that we all wanted to drum at the half marathon and marathon too,” Katrin Bruck says. Ever since then, the group has been a musical constant along the course. Her location is at kilometre 6, at a spot where most of the runners are still in good shape.
Katrin Bruck, an assistant tax consultant, got into playing the Taiko, the Japanese drum, in a roundabout way. “I started out playing African drums, but I also tried out samba and a few other things. I was introduced to the Taiko through friends. The size of the drum and the clear rhythms always appealed to me.” According to legend, the sound of the Taiko brought back the balance between good and evil. In Japan, the drum in present in many areas of life, with the farmers and fishermen using them at festivals and monks for their religious ceremonies.
The group dynamics play a special role with the Taiko drumming. The beats of the drum are optically supported by the body positions and movements of the drummers. It takes a while for a group to grow together and find a common language. It takes time for a piece to become perfect. In order to get as close as possible to the original performances, Katrin Bruck and her crew regularly attend workshops, some by renowned Japanese Taiko instructors.
They put together a programme for the marathon that fits well with the rhythm of running and that has been popular with the runners in the past. The drummers also require good conditioning to maintain the strong and concentrated playing for two hours, so they meet weekly in Prenzlauer Berg in Saarbrücker Strasse to practice. “At the marathon, we will keep on drumming till the bus comes,” the woman from Berlin promises. “When we get through our programme, we will simply start again at the beginning.” The runners at the back end of the field can use all the support they can get.
“For us, it is simply great to get so much feedback. The runners are happy and applaud us,” Katrin Bruck states. “That really keeps us going. Playing at the marathon simply elicits much greater emotion than being on a stage, which we also often do, at martial arts events, company events and street festivals.”
We wanted to know what the Japanese runners think of the Taiko music. “They seem happy,” the 39-year-old states. “And they smile politely.” Just what one expects.