Berlin Marathon 2011 – Been there, done that, paid extra to get the t-shirt!

After a very hot Brighton Marathon – where I got 3h30. I was hoping that with some good solid fast long runs in the bank, Berlin would have given me a sub 3h30, poss 3h20 time… It was hot. Again. And my time was debatable…

As a race, Berlin was a lot of money. I’m glad I did it – but it cost the best part of a grand. If not more! The race entry was €80. That included chip rental and a medal. Forget/fail to return the chip by 5pm and it’s a €25 fee. Finishers t-shirt? Another €30 please. Free stuff at the expo/finish/goody bag? A little – but your be disappointed. Now I’m not saying this is a problem, (well I kinda am) but when I compare this to other races it seemed like I was getting fleeced! Add the cost of the hotel, flights, sight seeing and stuff and it all adds up! Maybe that’s just international races for you? This was my first one after all… Anyway – I saw a lot of the city, not just while running 26.2 miles around it so it’s unfair to slap all the cost on the marathon. This was a birthday weekend break at the same time! I had a great time, and I’d do it again just the same.

As an actual race, this was a busy course! As one of the 5 majors – it had around 40,000 running. Unlike London – the runners were all pretty fast! I came 5,500ish with my time! So what was my time? Well after loo issues and running for the start – I didn’t get to compose myself before the gun. Instead I was hopping over the railings and sorting out my Nike+ and music as I crossed the start. I ran to my GPS. Pacing myself and judging distances on that. My final tracked distance was about 26.4 miles in 3h28:04 hurrah! I later found my chip time was in fact 3h30:41 boo :0( It was still a PB as Brighton was 3h30:56! This race was in KM so I couldn’t gage my speed/splits on their markers. Apart from ‘half way’ I had no idea other than my GPS as to how far I’d run, and in what time. All I knew was I was holding sub 8min miles and that was what I needed for my sub 3h30! I knew I could have pushed harder but that would have meant overtaking people by weaving though the crowds. Lots of wasted energy. In the heat this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Like I said – I was holding sub 8min miles to get my goal… So you know what? I’m gonna stick with my GPS time… Officially I ran the Berlin Marathon in 3h30:41 a PB and an excellent time. I could have performed better – I know this. But as far as the distance goes, I have a marathon PB of 3h28:04 it says so on my Nike+!

Times and cost aside, it was a great course. Flat. Lots of sights, although I have no idea what most of them were! I didn’t do my research or the bus tour until after the race… Shame. I was surprised by how many strong runners there were. It was like London all over again for me. Constantly getting stuck behind people and looking for the smallest gap to accelerate into. Up until about mile 3 I could still see the 3h15 pacer balloon! People weren’t spreading out at all.

The other problem I faced – was I never got my lucozade… They don’t sell it in Germany – or the expo at least. And Tesco had sold out when I went before I left the UK. I decided to just use the water and power aid stops on course. However, I forgot that they weren’t bottles. I wanted something I could run with and sip. Maybe grab 2 or 3 bottles along the course and use them. However, it was cups only! This meant pulling over into the slow lane. Sometimes stopping for other runners cutting in front. Grabbing a cup and sipping what I could before ditching it and carrying on. Because it was so hot I thought that little and often was best. I took advantage of every station… This bad planning was also a factor for my time and a lesson learned.

I can’t help but think this race report is highlighting the negatives. This is because I have come away with that feeling of knowing I could do better, so it’s me analysing what went wrong and why.

On the positive side – it was great to run a Marathon over seas. I was nervous leading up to it. But I was confident I could do it. I felt strong the majority of the course – not something I could say about my previous marathons. The first 15 miles were hassle free. 15 – 20 had their struggles. But as soon as I got to 20, mentally I though – 6(.2) miles to go! I stepped up a gear knowing this was about 45-50mins running. 20-22 were strong. 22-24 were a struggle, but I knew I was close to the end. 24-finish were the longest 2 and a bit miles ever! Every corner I turned I expected to see the iconic gates… When they finally appeared I had a final spurt of energy and made for the finish.

Knowing my time, on my GPS, made me quite emotional. It was an effort. It was a marathon. I achieved my goal of sub 3h30 and I had competed no.2 of the 5 majors! I was proud of myself!

I haven’t mentioned Team Audio Fuel yet – my running pals from the NikeGrid challenge. There were 7 of us in the end who ran Berlin. For some it was their first Marathon. Everyone did amazing in their own right. What we shared was a passion for a challenge – thats what brought us together in the first place. It was good to see friendly faces before and after to share the experience with. Well done Team!

Lastly, but by no means least – a big support was given to me by Michael. Originally signed up to run – he had to withdraw from the race due to injury. However, he still flew out to enjoy the weekend in Berlin and support me on the day. Positioning himself at the end for some super photos and greeting me with a post race beer! Even helping me with my bags after the race. His friendship is invaluable.

A great birthday weekend! With some amazing memories…

Been there, done that, paid extra to get the T-Shirt!

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2 Responses to Berlin Marathon 2011 – Been there, done that, paid extra to get the t-shirt!

  1. Daniel and Stuart says:

    Very Proud well done…x

  2. Great Blog post James – I’m only sorry We did not hook up. Sub 3:30 – well done GREAT run fella. I’m proud of you too.

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