BERLIN

Where: Berlin, Germany
When: September
Size: 40,000 runners
Completed September, 2010

Organisation: 5/5

Like a Volkswagon production line, the organisation is faultless! From the monthly emails in the build up to the race to detailed markings throughout, you know exactly where you need to be and when. If you don’t speak German it’s not a problem, every sign caters for a multitude of languages. The huge expo the day before the race gives you every minute detail you need about the course, timings and what to expect when you’re running. From the moment you arrive at the course you are guided where to set off from depending on how quick you are. The organisation of this marathon is remarkable…but then, it is Germany!

Course: 4/5

One word: Flat.

If the marathon record is broken, it’s broken in Berlin and from the first corner you know why. There simply aren’t any hills, which makes it an ideal place for a record time or your first 26 miler. The start and finish are simply awesome – when I ran it there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and setting out surrounded by the main central park of the ‘Tiergarten’ was a beautiful opening. There are a few dull parts around the suburbs of Berlin, but as you finish amongst the brilliant architecture of the city centre it more than makes up for it. The finish is beneath the Brandenburg Gate, so you couldn’t wish for a more iconic ending. It’s great to see how the city (still) looks different as you pass between east and west as well – which gives you something to think about other than how much your legs are hurting.

Atmosphere: 3/5

Odd one – it’s either incredible, or weirdly silent. Around the start and finish the crowds are noisy and brilliantly supportive, but then in the quieter areas in the middle, tend to watch in quiet amusement. It’s fair enough, because it can’t be much to watch, but when you are cramping up at the 18 mile mark, you could really do with a ‘schnell’ or two. They are consistent though, with people lining the whole course with almost equal measure throughout.

Difficulty: 2/5

As much as running 26.2 miles can be, you aren’t going to find a more pleasurable race. My only difficulty was working out how many miles I was up to (the signs are all in km). Sometimes the long streets that you face can seem a bit endless, but then I think that’s the case with most races. Water stops are regular and plentiful, with the odd mist shower scattered along the streets which I found made all the difference.

Apres Race: 5/5

WUNDERBAR! As you cross the line it’s a real festival atmosphere. The first thing you can get your hands on is a pint of lager, and you can sip it as you chat to locals down the tree lined streets that surround the finish line. If there’s ever been a cuisine to reward to content yet shattered marathon survivor its Germany’s. The local beers are inexpensive, ice cold and available everywhere all night long. If you have the energy, the city has the best nightlife in Europe (don’t say Barcelona, because it’s not), and Berliners are some of the friendliest people I have ever met.  Menus full of fried meats and chips are just what you need. Heck, they are just what you deserve!

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Written by…

AndyHassall – long distance runner. Occasional racer

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