So yes, it’s been actually a month since running Berlin (28th September) and yes I’ve been a bit slack in updating the blog lately and I’ve also been travelling but that is not an excuse.
To get to Berlin from Wellington, NZ is a fair bit of travel. Door to door I think it took me about 40hrs until I slumped on the bed in a Berlin hotel room completely exhausted. Not the best way to run a marathon in a few days with that kind of travelling.
This was my third marathon and the first BIG International marathon. Berlin is the holy grail for marathoners seeking a fast time and of course the place where all recent world records in the 42.2km distance has been achieved. More on this a bit later!
The city of Berlin is rich with history with many attractions. During the short stay we managed to visit some of these closer to where we stayed. We tried to rest as much as we could before the marathon day. We stayed in a nice hotel not far from the start which was near the Brandenburg gate and Tiergarten. This allowed us to go for some easy runs exploring around the city leading up to race day. Here are some photos of the various parts of the city.
Since my last marathon in May (Rotorua Marathon) I had reduced my typical high mileage training and opted for a medium level training plan, I also picked up an annoying niggle (read pain) on the ankle of my right foot about 3 weeks before coming to Berlin which gave me a bit of discomfort on longer runs but it was manageable with icing and strapping post training runs. When I planned to run Berlin earlier in the year I had a completely different mind set, overtime since running Rotorua in 3:18 (PB) in May (a highpoint) and a few things that happened in my life, it would be fair to say that I lost a bit of motivation in running along with the goal and the hunger for Berlin changed considerably. However things changed and I found a pretty good reason to go if travelling to Berlin itself wasn’t a good enough reason. :-)
Race Pack Pickup in Tempelhof
On the Friday two days before the marathon we went to the Expo hall in the now closed Tempelhof airport. This being an airport obviously had lots of space and also a sports expo with many vendors with displays related to running and other sports activities. Berlin also host the a skating marathon which was on the Saturday. So there was a lot of people who were there. The organisation was top notch even with the massive number of participants. You lined up under your name alphabetically handed in your registration bar code and voila you had your race pack/number along with some ‘free’ goodies in a see through plastic bag. This being the only allowed official bag for storing any of your after race personal clothes etc. You get a sticker with your name and number which you could affix to the bag. All very good!
Some photos from the Expo hall – Curry Wurst, Beer and Shoes!!
Race Day – 28th September
The day was perfect with a very slight breeze and blue skies, I mean perfect and I can do no justice describing it. The german commentators said “Eine unglaubliche wundershoenes tag!” And the marathon had not even begun. We made it to the start area through a park and along the way we handed in our post run gear (in the see through plastic bags). This was nicely managed with blocks numbered as per your race number. Only thing was the Men’s area and the Women’s area were in two separate locations hence there was a bit of a round trip to hand both our bags. Nevertheless we pretty much made it into our starting corral just in time for the start with a non-standard pit stop in the bushes. Yup there was no way we were queuing behind 500 people or so! :-)
The race pretty much started on time! It took us about maybe 2 minutes to go over the official timing mat thingy as everyone started moving. The atmosphere was phenomenal, there were runners from pretty much every country and in every shape, size, age. I’ve been told about big city marathons and the feeling you have when you start but to experience the feel of movement of over 30,000 people around you is entirely another thing. It was spectacular.
So by this time I had already decided on one thing, I was going to forget about any goals/times PBs. I was going to run with Orsi. This was her second marathon and I wanted to finish Berlin with her. We got into a pretty easy rhythm and took in the cheers from the people who had given up their Sunday morning to come and cheer all the runners in their city.
We took in the sites and the people, and there were lots of them all lined up along the route! There we local musicians, dancers, bands, trumpeters all every 4-5kms apart which made up for an interesting mix of music and everyone around you were smiling.
We went through the first half of the marathon pretty conservatively and then started to build up gradually as we went through as I call it the “meaty part” basically from 25-34kms where things can change dramatically from having a good marathon experience to a bad marathon experience. Coming into the last 8 kms the music got louder the cheers got louder and the whole atmosphere lifted you to another level. We both crossed the finish in a time of 03:26:37 (A big PB for her).
After the marathon everyone got a pint of alcohol free beer along with water, apples, bananas as you walked out of the finish area. We settled on the grass in front of the People’s palace to enjoy the post race pains.
This was also a historic day for marathoners as Dennis Kimetto of Kenya broke the marathon world record with a time of 02:02:57 (That’s 2hours 2mins and 57seconds).
This short video has some of the great highlights of the Berlin marathon