Interview with Dieter Baumann

26. February 2019

The white Kenyan was more than able to keep up with the overpowering opponents of the Black Continent. With a time of 12:54:70 in the 5000 m, Dieter Baumann is still the fastest runner of non-African descent and works as a cabaret artist and blogger today. 

27 years have passed since you sprinted to the Olympic victory in a memorable finale. What do you generally believe are the three most important keys to your success?

Yes, that was a long time ago. And quite frankly, it is hardly possible to look back on this one event any more. Generally speaking, I would say that in the first instance a “model for success” – and I deliberately use quotation marks here – requires health and continuity. Training is always difficult when you have lots of interruptions due to injury or illness. You need to be able to rest and concentrate on the essentials. This calls for a good team, and good support from friends, family, and your coach. And then, of course, there is the willingness to work. You need to be diligent - which I know is a taboo word in today’s world, however, without a certain degree of diligent training, you won’t get far.  


You have celebrated fantastic successes in your career. Even so, is there something you would do differently if you could turn back time? 


You are still in the spotlight today, but this time as a cabaret artist. Tell us where all the similarities lie and what your new program has to offer.

The theatre life is very similar to that of an athlete’s life. We train, have rehearsals, competitions, performances and move around about from city to city. Simply wonderful. The excitement before a performance is similar to that of a competition and yes, I have a starting shot – it kicks off at 20:00 and then I have to be focused, get to the heart of my performance (approximately 2 hours) and reach the goal at the end. Mostly happy and satisfied. I enjoy the whole procedure and the socialisation through competitive sports has naturally stood me in good stead for this new type of activity. And: my new program is actually a world sensation! This is because my theatre show is organised around the treadmill. I run, dance, do conjuring tricks, and sing - on the treadmill. For one and a half hours. The theatre world has never seen anything like this before. And just to promote Switzerland: my act is set in Biel, where I retrace my 100-kilometre run on the treadmill. I have, admittedly, shortened it a little. Otherwise, it would be a long evening. I mean, I would naturally be able to run the distance, .... in short: you just have to see it to believe it.  

The next possibility to see it is on 8 March at the Schweizerhof hotel in Lucerne. (More information)


You are still in close contact with the scene, commenting on major city marathons such as the Berlin or Frankfurt Marathon and providing exciting background information and important attention to detail. How has running developed in recent years? What are your key findings when it comes to training and competitions?

The changes are comprehensible. Passing fads will always come and go. Today we again have faster to extremely fast continuous runs. Especially in the area of marathon running. There are also fewer and fewer competitions. The top athletes focus on a few highlights. That is basically how I would sum up high performance sports. 

With recreational sports we have a different kind of development. The people want to run, but not quite as far (marathon) and they also don’t want to aim for personal best times. It is more about exercise, staying healthy and yes, we are living in a time of “events”. Whereas just a few years ago people simply went to a running event to run, nowadays they want to experience a lot of fringe events. To be there and experience something as a counterpoint to a professional life that demands ever increasing efficiency. 

People want and need to breathe deeply and slow down in their leisure time. That, I would say, is the focus of people doing sports today and not so much running the marathon under the 3-hour mark. Preferably a mountain run with incredibly beautiful vistas and views so they can switch off and relax.

Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us? 

Tips can be a bit tricky.....but OK then, two things: 1. Before a run, I always had a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. It worked. And 2. To get motivated, I advise all runners to come to my new program one day, Dieter Baumann läuft halt (weil singen kann er nicht) (Dieter Baumann just runs (because he can’t sing) and I promise you that I always eat a piece of cake and drink a cup of coffee beforehand. You can therefore assume that it works.

Foto: ZVG