Last week, I ran my third full marathon: the Berlin 2017 Marathon. I signed up for the lottery for this major marathon while some of my friends were running the NYC marathon last year, and was one of the lucky ones to get in through the lottery system.
Overall impressions: lots of amazing runners, amazing supporting crowd, and amazing route in a beautiful city full of history. Amazing race to set a Personal Best.
While I hadn’t been able to follow a strict training regimen during the summer months, I woke up a month before and started following the training where I should have been, and was able to get my mileage back where it should have been without too much trouble. While I wouldn’t advise for this route, I was able to set a PR for both my half marathon time and my full marathon (1h51 for the half, 3h54 for the full marathon). The finish line was more emotional than my first marathon.
The weather was perfect for someone training in NYC: cool and drizzling. While it did not help the elite runners, the light rain definitely helped cool me down as I was hitting the wall between 30 and 35 km (all of the distance markers were in km).
The international running community was better than imagined: I was able to speak to two german runners and two americans at the start line. I was able to talk to other kinds of runners. As always, everyone was amazing, full of tips, hopes and goals for this race. People were hoping to qualify for Boston, Chicago, or anxiously waiting for the results of the Tokyo Lottery. During the race, runners supported each other, yelling words of encouragements, or running together.
The fans and supporting community was also amazing. At no point along the course were the race sidelines fully quiet, between the bands and supporters. The supporting crowd were mostly present close to the S-Bahn and U-bahn stations. With more and more supporters along the second half of the marathon. This definitely helped me get my speed back up after the 30-35 km wall.
The Berlin course is world re-known as one of the fastest marathon course. During the cold war, the course was only opened on the west side. Now, the course goes through both East-Berlin and West-Berlin, and makes the runners go through many of the iconic areas of Berlin. Berlin is mostly made up of mostly 3-4 story mixed use commercial and residential buildings, which office buildings concentrated around the city places.
- Show up a couple of days early to enjoy the expo without too many people
- Enjoy the city, its culture, and the alcohol-free beer the couple days before the race (I’m not usually a fan of alcohol-free beer but definitely enjoyed the beer there)
- Show up early at the start line to enjoy bathroom free lines, and enjoy the viewing party that accompanies the start of the marathon.
- The course is basically the same hardness level, a faster marathon time can be possible with a fast first half marathon.
- While it is said that headphones are not permitted, don’t hesitate to use them if you are used to them during your training.
- Enjoy the crowd and the scenery, even when things get tough.