The Berlin Marathon – A great event for any athlete!
The Berlin Marathon is a great event for athletes of all abilities. We asked Olly, a regular marathon runner and drinker of ERDINGER Alkoholfrei, to review the race for us.
“I was very excited to be travelling abroad to run a marathon. Once work finished on the Friday evening I started the journey and relaxed with some music and a book. The other travelling runners were easy to spot. They were already dressed in trainers and sports gear and you try to avoid eye contact before enquiring about times, hopes and dreams for the next few days.
On Saturday morning my trip to the ‘Expo’ was the first big event of the weekend to collect my number, chip and security wristband. Security is tight at major marathons after Boston. There was a small queue but it was very simple. I was in Berlin with my Mum (Julie Nokes) who was aiming to become a 2-time marathoner having also completed the London marathon this year as her first marathon in just over 5 hours. In need of refreshment we stopped off for an Erdinger Alkoholfrei and to buy the event pint glass, before heading back to the hotel to relax.
An uneventful afternoon of eating, reading and sleeping was perfect preparation for race day. We laid out our kit and tried to sleep.
Berlin starts at 0845, much earlier than London and so we had to be up early. I had a porridge pot, a banana and some beetroot juice before heading down to the start dressed in tights and a hooded CSI style top and gloves; it was about 8 degrees, perfect for marathoning!
Arriving at the start at 0745, I joined a toilet queue which was a good plan as I only reached the front at 0830! I knew the start was close and had no worries about being late. The kit drop was simple and I jogged the 1k to start pen B to hear “5 minutes to go” being called. Perfect timing. A few more light stretches and a shoelace check and I was ready to go. I remembered to take my first gel just before the off and then we surged forward. I was restrained and concentrated on keeping my breathing relaxed, not chasing the faster runners ahead and staying on pace and on the blue line which marks the shortest route whilst trying not to get tripped up in the throng which soon dispersed.
My restraint was rewarded as I hit my first splits as expected. My race plan had been based on a mix of heart rate and pace knowing that if I was running too fast but my HR remained lower than expected I could continue at that pace without burning any matches. At 10k (38:56) this was thrown into disarray as my HR monitor stopped giving me a sensible feed. I had no time to wonder why. I took it off and carried on running. I felt good and was in a good group so pressed on. I still felt good at half way (1:21:48) and was into my routine of gels and water. The water and energy drink is in cups which is a challenge if you haven’t practised drinking from one at nearly 10mph (the key is to pinch it to make a ‘V’, apparently).
Berlin feels fast. The long, wide strasse reminded me of an infinite ladder optical illusion where we seemed to always be running downhill yet arrived at the same place. It is so fast I pushed on a bit hard without the safety net of my heart rate monitor and got lost in the moment. It wasn’t until 35K that my hamstrings started to tighten and I knew I would lose some time. I kept trying to spring into my stride but would settle back into what seemed like a shuffle. The last 2 km twisted and turned but I knew the end was near. There is probably still a whole kilometre to go when you see the Brandenburg gate and it seems to take an age to reach. I passed through and knew 2:45 had been and gone but I was not disappointed and made sure the crowd saw I was having fun. I had my arms in the air, doing aeroplanes and as I crossed the line in 2:46:50 I jumped up clicking my heels together which suggests I perhaps had too much energy and could have run faster!
A great medal, an Erdinger Alkoholfrei to replenish carbohydrates and essential vitamins before meeting up with some new friends.
That should be the end of my tale but as I arrived at my hotel and started to enjoy another Erdinger I checked the Berlin Marathon App and saw that my Mum had just passed a timing mat a block away, 5 minutes ago. I acted on impulse. I downed the drink and left my kit at reception running towards the course. There were no barriers but I had to work out if she’d already passed by. I decided to press on my aching legs screaming at me as I overtook these hardly souls who I have so much respect for as they are out on the course far longer than me. Then I saw her in the distance. I caught her and took a photo of her before telling her how great she was to have got this far after not being able to run further than half way in training. She finished in 5:11 and is very proud of her achievement and so am I.
Writing this as the aches die away; the t-shirt, the medal, glass and trinkets remind me of this great day which will be remembered for many reasons but it is a day that reminds me why we do the long runs and hard track sessions in all weathers and sacrifice other commitments.”
Well done Olly on completing the Berlin Marathon in a PB of 2:46:50, the same day as a new World Record by Dennis Kimetto.