An easy early morning flight to Berlin and onto the bus to the centre of the city. All going well until a car decided to side swipe the bus and we had to get off the bus and transfer to the next one – luckily it was pretty obvious what was happening and no need for our school German. A short walk and we were at our hotel. Very swanky with a large aquarium in the lobby reaching up all six floors.
Having checked in as our room was ready we went off to the old airport to pickup my number. It was not too busy on a Thursday afternoon and we had a quick wander around the expo but it was very similar to any other large marathon.
Friday and Saturday were spent being tourists, although the Tiergarten was mostly out of bounds due to preparation for some running event on the Sunday. If you have not been to Berlin then you need to know it majors on architecture, spies and the Berlin Wall. We found lots of places to eat within easy walking distance of the hotel and tried not to walk too much on Saturday.
The Berlin marathon starts at 9:30 on Sunday and the advice was to be there an hour before. Given how far the hotel was from the start I needed to set the alarm for… well about 7am actually. Up and a pot of instant porridge, a cup of tea and a brisk walk/jog to the start pen, joining the accumulating mass of runners going to their various pens.
Lots of room in my start pen and a beautiful cool but sunny morning. Soon there was the countdown for the elite start and we shuffled forward, started to jog and then the pace picked up as we passed over the start line. The route is along wide closed roads so plenty of space to run in and very little in the way of being held up by others. I settled into a rhythm and the kilometres started to tick away. Somehow reaching 13 km was a psychological barrier as I was disappointed to realise I was not half way but the feeling soon disappeared when I took the next gel. There are lots of water stations, about every 2k so, like London, there is no excuse to be dehydrated.
The temperature rose but it was not too hot and I enjoyed the course which is basically a set of long straights with a few wide corners. I am not surprised it is fast, there is little to hold you up.
I enjoyed running past places we had been in the previous few days and the support from the crowds was excellent. Like London there were people everywhere and plenty of bands and drum groups set up on the side of the road. I managed to exchange a brief word with my wife as planned at about 9 k when the route passed close to our hotel and was enjoying the marathon experience. Time was not important I was here to enjoy another Marathon Major. The route is seriously flat (I must check whether it is flatter than Manchester but there can’t be much in it) but there is plenty of things to see and take your mind off the passing kilometres. Eventually the kilometre signs started to approach 40 and we got close to the hotel again and I started to recognise the roads and think about how far there was to go. We turned the corner and there was the Brandenburg Gate and behind that the finish. Soon I was over the line and collecting my medal.
I did not use the bag drop as the hotel was so close and we had a late checkout so it was back to the hotel, a quick shower and off to the airport for the flight home. A lot of other people on the flight had also done the marathon but I am not sure many had had the luxury of a shower afterwards!
Berlin is a great marathon if you can get in. Well organised and suitable for a fast run – sub 2hours anyone?