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The Marathon Majors – Alison Jones tells her story from her first Major in Berlin

Berlin Marathon: September 2014

This was my first “Major” marathon en route to completing the 6 majors culminating with Tokyo in 2017, which I have already bored you with.

I am sure many in the club have run Berlin, it seems to be on everyone’s list of must do marathons, probably since Berlin is pretty easy to get to and it has a reputation for being flat and fast, which indeed it was!

I detested Berlin, with a passion, for many reasons, since running increasingly quicker times, in all my marathons up to this point, I thought a new “world record” was there for the taking and Berlin was just the stage to perform this heroic feat, okay maybe not a new world record per se, but I was producing sub 4hours, at my age, (55 – 59) I thought that was pretty good, so how could it go wrong in a flat fast marathon?

It started to unravel at breakfast, believe me the Germans do not know how to make porridge (I am Scottish therefore am something of an expert) then I made the fatal mistake of deviating from my usual routine by having a coffee whilst I was hanging around.

It never fails to amaze me that rich economies cannot invest in some bottles of water, especially since the day of the marathon was fairly hot, but mine is not to reason why, although they say fore warned is fore armed and I was indeed warned that the water stations were a free for all.

Alison - Majors medals

I did not have a drink until later in the race and was feeling quite smug that I did not get trampled to death in the melee that ensued at each water station, I was also having a great race up on my splits and generally in a good place.

Another reason I did not have a drink, was the coffee I had earlier had decided it was time for the toilet, with 14 miles still to go I decided that I had enough time to stop, go to the loo (plenty on course) and still get a sub four hour time.

I carried on, ever alert, the Germans have absolutely no running etiquette and have a habit of running with their elbows sticking out!?! I could not tell if they were men or women (This is the old East Germany remember) but I was on to them, at 5ft 4ins my face was right in their trajectory, but I dodged them, it was more like a battle than a marathon, and the best was yet to come.

At the half way point, we were so packed together, when the guy in front of me stopped dead at the water station, he obviously decided he needed a drink. I ran into the back of him but the girl behind me had enough room to get round me, unfortunately she did not factor in that I had legs, so I ended up on the deck with 20,000 runners bearing down. I had no idea what had occurred or what damage had been done, but I bounced up, the alternatives don’t bear thinking about, and kept on running as blood ran down my leg and from my hand. Anyway nothing was broken but my momentum, so my sub four hour time never happened, once again I ran 27 miles and when my watch had said 26.2 I thought the next corner would be the finish, ha not to be, maybe the next corner no again, I was losing the will to live by then and finally we turned another corner (who knew Berlin had so many corners) and finished in a time of 4.00.24 I was miffed to say the least!

If that was not enough, I had then to find a man or woman with a bucket to give them my timing chip so that I did not incur a €25 fine and they were rarer than hen’s teeth, no wonder the German economy is thriving!

After all this effort and disappointment, I was rewarded with a pint of alcohol free beer, that just made my day!


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