Alex and I run a lot of our races together, but that’s because everything he signs up for looks fun, and vice-a-versa. But when he put his name in the Berlin Marathon lottery last year I hadn’t run a marathon yet and was still pretty scared of the distance. Also, Alex wins every running lottery he enters it seems. He’s got London 2/4 years, so it was no surprise when he was the only one of our my close friends who got a spot for the 2015 race.
Roll ahead to last Thursday and having done 2 marathons in the past 11 months I definitely felt ready to run Berlin (and a bit sad I wasn’t), but was even more excited to go cheer. Berlin is one of my favourite cities and getting to go there with a marathon to cheer on? Perfect weekend!
We spent Friday afternoon at the expo. Even bigger than the Berlin Half expo we soaked it all up. I love race expos and browsed all the special kit (leiderhosen running tops were a personal fav) before braving the official race kit section. There is a special type of chaos reserved for people trying to buy World Marathon Major branded kit. Luckily we found a helpful staff member who just grabbed us a jacket from the back, avoiding a good hour of hide & seek.
We then spent a while at the expo beer garden meeting a great group of guys from Denmark doing their 20th Berlin Marathon this year. One of them had done over 500 marathons!
After dinner at our favourite restaurant in Berlin, Henne, we headed to the Reichstag building for a tour of the dome. A friend tipped me off on this, you have to book ahead online and submit your passport details, but it’s totally free. Great views of the city & a very cool history audio guide later we were at the top of the spiral looking at the marathon start/finish line!
Saturday we skipped the Breakfast Run due to a sleepy marathon runner, but headed to the 1936 Olympic Stadium for an afternoon tour. Again, I totally recommend it as was super informative about one of the most interesting and controversial modern Olympics.
I had no idea that while the Opening Ceremony was happening the first concentration camp was being opened, Hitler figuring no one would notice with the Olympic distraction. Everyone knows about what amazing athletic and political achievements Jesse Owens made in this stadium, and there were some pretty amazing stories of achievement from the female athletes in attendance.
After a quiet night we awoke on marathon morning with perfect weather (for running & speculating) I went with Alex to the start soaking in all the nervous excitement and deep heat on the u-bahn.
I had planned to spend the whole day out running and watching the marathon myself so I had packed my ultra vest up with the essentials. Water, a powerbar, my phone, an extra charger, warmer layers, camera, cheering sign, and cowbell.
After I dropped Alex off in the athletes only section I headed around to see if I could catch him just after the start. As I ran by the Brandenburg Gate all was quiet and the sun was rising just above it. I felt pretty lucky to even be in Berlin with all the amazing runners getting ready to take on the marathon.
At 9am sharp the elites were off. I watched the big screens and then ran through the Tiergarten to try to find Alex in his start pen. As one of the last waves to go off (Anyone with a marathon PB of 4:15 or above) he didn’t end up starting until about 9:40. I spent the time chatting with a dad who lived in Berlin 40 years ago and his son was back this year to running the race. Seriously, the stories that running creates are just the best.
After I saw Alex through the start gates I set off on a loop of the Tiergarten getting some weird looks like a lost sheep, but really enjoyed the calm cool morning and only wish more of the park was open (a lot of was fenced off for security as the elites and their teams got ready there). I then ran up to the 7km mark of the race to get my first cheer on. I arrived a bit ahead of Alex’s predicted time so got my sign out and started cheering. There were lots of people lining the streets but nothing too busy or chaotic like the London Marathon.
A lot of people asked for some chocolate as they ran by. Which made me really happy that everyone was enjoying their race so far. I even saw a familiar face when Emma ran by me! I felt bad packing up after Alex passed but had to get a few more miles in my own run and get down to the 19km mark to see Alex again with our other friends in town. A quick stop at the Starbucks near Bradenburg Gate for some free wifi and then down past Potsdamer Platz where I happened to run by right when Scott Overall was (literally flying) past.
From there I was off running south towards Kruezberg. I picked up Nick & Jen at our hotel and we walked down to try to catch Alex. Only a few minutes later there he was !
Not planning to see Alex again until 39k we then grabbed some healthy spectating snacks and settled in to watch all the speedy runners go by.
After a few bottles of beer ran past us, there was Alex. Still looking great with not much further to go. We filled him up with water and some sugary haribo smurfs and set him off for the final few kms.
We decided to skip trying to see him before Brandenburg Gate as the crowds were super thick there so went around to the Family Meeting area to get some recovery prezels & beer ready for his arrival.
Sitting on the Reichstag lawns in the sun was great and then we all moved to a more comfortable patio for bigger beers & pizzas.
From that patio we continued to another bar for some more beers & strudel (chocolate cake runner adapts for the country he is in), and then slowly made our way back to the hotel. It was such a perfect day out we didn’t really want to head back, but we found ourselves starving (I only ran 6 miles but was more than happy to go along with marathon appetites) so ordered amazing Burgermeister from Deliveroo right to our hotel bed. Is there anything better?
We obviously slept in on Monday (were the burgers just a dream?!?!) and then spent the day pottering around Berlin checking out the first ever Adidas store, the East Side Gallery, and fitting in a few more pints and a great schnitzel at this little place under the ubahn tracks.
While Alex found his name in the morning paper, I obviously took the time to get a Dunkin Doughnuts iced coffee and chocolate doughnut. When in Alexanderplatz…
We flew home late Monday night with a plane full of Frankenstein walking marathoners getting checked at Security because they wouldn’t take off their medals. I wouldn’t expect anything less!