Jeff Hinsley reports.
Earlier this year Claire
and Craig decided they would have a pre-wedding jaunt to Berlin for the
marathon and invited other WACers along. So 5 runners and one supporter
took up the offer. It would be a first for all the runners as none had
run Berlin before.
Arriving late on Friday
courtesy of Easyjet and French air traffic controllers we headed
straight to the marathon expo to pick up numbers. We were on a tight
schedule as the expo closed at 9:00 pm. I managed to leave my
registration document at the hotel and not wishing to stress my fellow
runners I returned to the hotel alone while they sat in a bar enjoying
the local hospitality.
Arriving at the expo at
8:45 it was a dash to the furthest point in the hall to pick up the
numbers. The expo felt bigger than the one for London and is at the old
airport that was used during the Cold War to keep West Berlin supplied.
Having collected our numbers we had a Chinese and a beer to prepare for
the breakfast run.
A nice touch with the
numbers is that your first name is automatically included along with
The breakfast run was
another first for me; this seems to be a tradition at some marathons the
day before the event. We started from Charlottenburg Palace to run about
6km to the Olympic stadium where a free breakfast was waiting. The run
was well attended and completed in about 45 minutes with a finishing lap
of the stadium. There was a sense of history running down Jesse Owen
Boulevard, however, my final 100m on the track would not worry Usain
Bolt. It was then time to show all our European neighbours that queuing
is essentially British, this only lasted a few seconds and we soon
became true Europeans. There was a good selection for breakfast and it
rounded off an enjoyable morning.
Back at the hotel the
weather forecast suggested wet weather gear would be needed for the next
To rest the legs for the
big event it was decided that a city bus tour to see something of Berlin
followed by a seat in a roadside bar to view the inline skating marathon
would pass Saturday afternoon. I think Berlin is the only city marathon
that covers two days and the skating is well worth watching. The wet
roads certainly added to the excitement as a spectator, which said I
won’t moan about a blister when you can scrape off lots of skin as a
skater! Also sat in the dry with a beer was much preferable to skating.
The rain continued to fall
Sunday morning as we made our way to the start, unlike London public
transport is only free to competitors if you drop out of the race. The
start and finish are in the Tiergarten with the bag drop spread across a
wide area; if you are late arriving this could make things a little
fraught. Entry to the start area is also very narrow and if a pre-race
toilet visit is required you can be left trying to get to your start pen
when the countdown has begun.
With only one start
position I was expecting things to be a bit stop start to begin with but
because the road is wide and there is a stagger to the start it was
relatively simple to get moving.
I must rant at this point,
why when it is pouring with rain and you are soaked even before the
start do people avoid running in puddles. Running 26 miles is hard
enough without having to avoid those who jump in your way. Just accept
it is water, it will make you wet and get on with it.
Like London spectators
line the whole course and offer great support; things seem slightly more
relaxed and in some places there are no barriers so they do get fairly
close to the action, they can also cross in front of you without
warning. It was nice to have km markers rather than mile markers as
things seemed to pass quicker.
I did recognise the odd
landmark during the run but it was only when I finally turned towards
the Brandenburg gate did I really recognise something. This last part of
the race is as good a finish as Bird Cage Walk, the only thing missing
was the sound of a hand bell and the cry of come on Wimborne!
Once through the line and
having collected your medal you can begin your recovery with a free
beer; that said it is non-alcoholic. There is plenty of room to change
after the race which is a big plus.
Personally I give Berlin a
9/10, the race is relaxed, the start and finish are ideal and there is
good support even in the most horrible of conditions.
Also thanks to Claire and
Craig for the invitation to join them.
Jerry Shield 02:58:21
Craig Dixon 03:24:25
Jeff Hinsley 03:48:38
Nick Solomon 03:52:19
Claire Newby 04:32:24
Nicki Roe 04:40:49