Berlin Marathon - star number 2/6

Back in April this year I completed the London marathon and with it I collected my first star of the six marathon majors. My ultimate goal is to collect all six before my 40th birthday but there is a huge financial implication and I am going to have to see if this is possible. Next on the list was Berlin.

I had wanted the kids to come with me to watch me run but without going into detail they were unable to. Instead I travelled first thing Saturday morning. It was the first time I had flown without the kids since becoming a Mum and it felt very strange walking through security and the airport without them. I kept my self busy by talking to several people waiting in the airport and the time soon passed to board my flight.

On board it seemed to be full of people taking part in the marathon. I was sat in the middle seat and the person to my right was completing their first marathon and to the left had done multiple marathons before. It was really interesting listening to their stories and it was soon time to land.

I seem to pick the wrong weather for marathons. It was hot in Berlin and I wished I had worn shorts and not my jeans. Never mind. After negotiating the train system, which was incredibly efficient and left and arrived bang on the times it stated, I arrived at the expo to collect my number.

The expo was in the old airport and it was huge. Much bigger than London, and a lot more stalls and exhibitors to visit. First I had to pass an identity check and I was then issued with a wrist band. I liked this system, all runners have a wrist band so if you loose your number they can verify you registered. Next up was number and chip collection.  The sense of relief when I finally collected my number was huge! It was now time to enjoy the expo and take a look at all the stands. 

There wasn't really much left of the day after we had finished in the expo. A short walk back to the hotel and on the way chance to stop and watch some of the inline skate race that was happening. It made me want to find my skates again.

The walk back to the hotel made me want to come back and explore Berlin again one day when I have more time. It was easy to tell when you were in West or East Berlin and there was so much history around that I really wish I had had more time to explore properly. Dinner and a drink to settle the nerves before bed, the first day had passed quickly and tomorrow was race day!

The morning of the marathon and it was hot. No where near as hot as London, but still hotter than I would have liked. Everything was incredibly well organised plenty of portaloos, easy to follow baggage drop and easy to locate the pens for the race. I cannot fault the system at all, it worked. After joining the queue for a nervous wee, you know the one you don't really need but you go anyway, it was time to join the pens. I was excited. 

The race is in staggered starts. Large TV screens on either side of the pens, so we could clearly see what was happening and plenty of speaker systems so we could hear everything too. There was a real buzz of excitement when they announced the elite athletes and before we knew it we were counting them down to set off. We watched on the tv screen and listened to the commentator. They were hoping, wishing a world record would be broken. Their commentary reflected this. '10 seconds behind pace' was the last thing I remember them saying before the next countdown to set off the next group of runners.

The hour and 15 minutes before we set off soon passed, and then we were given our countdown before we were on our way. The Goal was 35 minutes for every 5km. That worked well for the first 10km, then the heat started to take it's toll. I was running with my running partner from home and he is normally very chatty and keeps me going, only he went very quite very early on and I knew there was something wrong. I have done enough distance runs now to be able to spot the signs. I knew any plan was now out the window and we just had to get round.

Water stations were fantastic. They seemed to have connected pipes into the main water supply and were using taps to fill up buckets to them scoop water into cups to hand out. No bottles were handed out just cups of water. There was also ice tea and bananas. There was no chance of them running out of water like at London. It did get a little crowded at water stations which were every 5km and elsewhere on route there were taps if you had a reusable cup you could fill up.  Just after every water station was the timing mats, marked with huge arches and the current time since the start of the race. 

It became impossible to run through the water stations and we would also get split up. Meaning I would go ahead and once my friend caught up we would start running again. The later water stations had more cups discarded on the floor which became a hazard. I slipped at the half way water station and ended up in splits, I can't normally do the splits so it really hurt and I had to walk it off.

The route was well supported, just enough support from the crowds to get you round. Music playing and people enjoying the marathon atmosphere. It is very busy, but you can still get into your own stride. The weather was really taking its toll on everyone. 

The final few kms were simply amazing. The crowds began to get greater the closer to the finish you got. Then you turned the corner and saw the gates. Running through them and down the hill to the finish was simply amazing. I crossed the finish line and turned round to watch my friend finish. We had done it.

After collecting our medals the next priority was some water. It was so hot! Stretches done and it was time to try and remove the timing chip from my shoe. You have to return the chips else you get charged. This was perhaps the only negative from my whole Berlin experience. Oh and trying to find where to return the chip was a bit of a nightmare too. Chip returned and it was back to the hotel for a quick shower. I had 1 hour to change before I needed to make my way to the airport for my flight home. 

A delayed flight meant I spent longer than I wanted to sitting on the floor of the airport in Berlin. I had made my flight home after a whirlwind stop in Berlin. It was absolutely incredibly and by far one of my favourite marathons to date. Even if you don't want to do all the six majors, I would highly recommend Berlin marathon!

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