I’ll keep this Berlin Marathon recap short and sweet with mostly pictures, but I’ll be back later to elaborate on our time in Berlin and at Oktoberfest. To sum up my run: I struggled, but I had fun with friends and a blast exploring Berlin on foot. I ran with Paul, and our friend, Ferg (it was his first full marathon!) and I am so glad that we mostly stuck together for the whole race 😀 We had two other friends that ran with us too and they ran at their own pace.
This was my first time in Europe and I absolutely loved it. Bikes everywhere! We did a ton of sightseeing in the 4 days prior to the race and while the time on our feet wasn’t conducive to a great race, Berlin was purely about survival and fun. No PRs and certainly no A games.
The expo was hands down the largest expo I have ever seen (including Chicago and Boston!). Room after room of vendors, but we lucked out and barely had any waiting to do since we went first thing on Friday. One very neat thing was that they actually printed out your bib while you waited. It was much quicker than searching through a pile. I also didn’t realize that they do not provide a t-shirt, even at the finish line. I’ve never done a race that doesn’t give you a shirt!.. but there was plenty of options to buy one at the expo.
We stayed in Mitte at a cheaper hotel (EasyHotel) for the first few days we were in Berlin and then switched to the Grand Hyatt for Saturday and Sunday. The Grand Hyatt was less than a mile to the starting area and a nice place, but pricey if you book without points.
The race didn’t start until 8:45 am, so it was strange to not wake up until 7am on a race day! Breakfast was provided by our hotel and this was my favorite part: I actually ate a pretzel before the race. I wasn’t intending on it, but when it came between a bagel and pretzel: the pretzel wins!
We made the walk over to the starting area and it was very easy to figure out where to go. Almost everything is in English in Germany, so we were easily able to grasp where to go and how to use the subways/trains while sightseeing.
The starting line crowd was ENORMOUS. They even had some cheerleaders get up and lead the crowd through a jazzercise like warm-up. I didn’t really participate other than bob around to the music, but it was fun to watch the old guys and most of the crowd waving their arms and swaying and bouncing.
The first few miles were fairly crowded, but it thinned out. I would say the crowds of the race were comparable to the Chicago Marathon.. packed at first, but you can get around when you need to. Even once it thinned out, there was constantly a ton of people, but with enough space to pass and breathe.
It was an interesting experience running a race measured in kilometers. It makes you feel like you are FLYING at first, but by the time you get to 35km, it is a struggle trying to do the mental math to figure out how long to go! 😀
The best surprise: the Hot tea served at aid stations is AWESOME and a magical elixir. The worst surprise: plastic cups are hard to run through! It is a miracle that I didn’t trip on these!
We passed a lot of the sites that we had seen earlier in the week…. but hands down my favorite part was moments before the finish line when you run under the Brandenburg Gate. Incredible!
After running under the gate, the finish line itself feels rather small, but it felt so so good to finish! The medals are simple, but gorgeous. I’ll admit I’m getting a tad tired of the bigger is better attitude of medals we have in the states.
After the marathon, the REAL fun started! We spent one more night in Berlin, took a fantastic train ride to Munich (YAY to no open container laws on trains!) and then spent one glorious week in carb heaven: Oktoberfest!