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Berlin Marathon in the rain – 1 August 2010

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 your number.

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 48 hours.

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.

WACers results:

Anthony Clark            02:57:55
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


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