2013 Berlin Marathon Race Report, September 29th 2013
Swiftly following on the heels of Ian Hayes’ “inadvertent” Karlsruhe Marathon, Belper Harriers have maintained their momentum in the German Marathons this year.
Dan and I decided last year to enter the Berlin Marathon. We both know Berlin well and the fact that it was billed as the flattest course in the world also added to the appeal.
For me, it was a first marathon and for Dan the next in a number of long distance runs. Though our club’s wonderfully-supported Rugby Rover had been a great jumping off point.
From the ‘plane window, the course we’d studied looked reassuringly short. It was clear; we were going to be fine.
Arriving in Berlin on the Saturday, we both felt very excited. However, this excitement quickly turned to nerves for me. We had to go to an old airport site to pick up our numbers, where we met with the 40,000 determined runners who had entered the race. Having never entered such a big event before, this felt quite overwhelming. It was apparent that there were runners from many parts of the globe. So it also felt good to be part of something truly international.
We then found a restaurant to carbo’ load, however, I was so nervous at this stage, I couldn’t finish my noodles. Fortunately, Dan was on hand to do this for me!
I barely slept the night before the race, but managed to force down a large bowl of porridge in the morning, with Dan’s encouragement. It was a perfect day for running, sunny but cool and with a pleasant breeze. We arrived at the start line, near the Reichstag and once we had finally found where to drop off our bags, we went to find our places at the start line. I was particularly reassured to meet a number of experienced marathon runners who assured me that they too had all been awake at 3am and that this was perfectly normal!
Haile Gebrselassie was there and addressed the crowd before the race, which was really inspirational.
Then we were off! Even though I was at the back, we were running within 15 minutes of starting gun being fired. We had to pick our way through all the discarded long sleeved tops that had been dropped on the ground, but this didn’t last long and I was soon able to get into a steady pace. Although there were thousands of us, I never felt hemmed in.
Remembering the good advice from other club members, including Rob P’s excellent “it’s just 20 miles then a 10K”, I held back at the start and made sure not to go too fast. I was running well for the first 15 miles, and then started to feel a little bit tired. Helpfully, there were sponging stations along the route which provided welcome relief for tired legs. There were also frequent refreshment stations with sweet tea and fruit which proved to be very reviving. The course was well planned so we ran past many of the major sites of Berlin; however I didn’t notice much of it as I was too busy checking my pace. Around the course I met runners from Japan, South America, Finland, Denmark and Poland. Through the cheers for runners from: Cuba, Chile and Venezuela, there were waves for us too, as I think we stood out in our proudly worn club vests!
Still going steadily at 20 miles, I was waiting to hit the wall, which no longer had the historical connotations in this city. However, this didn’t happen and before I knew it, I’d reached 24 miles. The support was great all the way round, with pavement bands and lots of calls of encouragement, even to me in English “You Can Do It! You Can Do IT!”
By 24 miles the cheering reached a crescendo. At that point, I knew I was going to finish with a good time and all the training had paid off which was a huge buzz. I managed to maintain my pace for the last 2 miles then came round the corner to see the Brandenburg Gate, which meant that the end was in sight. I finished in just over 4 hours and 26 minutes which I was pleased with as I had aimed for 4 hours 30. Dan , of course , was miles ahead of me and finished comfortably in 3 hours 50. Must have been the extra noodles !
Running through the Gate was such a great way to end the marathon and when they hung the medal round my neck at the end I felt like I’d won the Olympics.
Then it was off to find Dan and enjoy a bratwurst and a beer. Erdinger were one of the race sponsors so there was free non-alcoholic beer at the end.
We would definitely recommend this marathon for both first time marathoners like me and also for more experienced runners looking for a PB. It was well organised and had a great atmosphere. Indeed, as we replenished vital fluids and minerals at an Octoberfest in Alexanderplatz in our phased recovery the next day, we were informed by a genial contingent of French runners that it “was much friendlier than the Paris Marathon!” It was really exciting to be part of one of the world major marathons and worth the long journey to get there.
Had I not joined Harriers, I would never have even thought that it was possible that I could run that far and I am very grateful for all the support I have received from club members over the years, this enabled to me to achieve my goal which was far beyond my dreams of waddling as a knock-knee’d novice back in 2009. We’re looking forward to storming ‘round the Yorkshire Marathon in the yellow ‘n black next year!
Rachel and Dan Clark