The BERLIN MARATHON 2018 will be remembered for many years.
It was where &when Eluid KIPCHOGE broke the world record at 2 hours 1 min and 38 seconds.
I suppose I can always say I ran with him on that day (although my attempt took over 3 hours longer).
I arrived in Berlin (via London) 3 days before the race. It was warm and dry for most of the trip. Slight rain when I collected my bag from the expo on the Thursday before race day.
It was a little bit lacking in organisation compared to the other majors I had run. Normally the kit collection (bib, shirt etc) would be right near the entrance. This time, we had to walk through the various hangers until we reached the Bib collection area at the far end.
I collected the bib and the final instructions. The goody bag would only score 3 out of 10 as I have received better “goodies” when running local races here in Malaysia. There was a magazine, deodorant and shower gel and a few leaflets.
I walked through the expo and purchased the finisher shirt (yes you have to buy it…) and another pair of OOFOS recovery sandals – if you are a runner, you have to have these post run. They are awesome and whole heartedly recommended.
The venue was fairly unique in that it was a disused airfield with hangers on the south east side of Berlin.
BMW as main sponsor had a large hot air balloon on site.
On the way back I took the opportunity to take some photos at Check Point Charlie near to the now non-existent Berlin Wall.
GENERALI VITALITY RUN:
This was the morning before the race and was a 6km warm up that ended at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. It was a fantastic place to end the run and entering the track where Olympic medals have been won and lost was quite surreal.
I took the best part of 50 minutes to slowly make my way to the stadium and it was very much a party atmosphere for the runners.
You can see the video on my youtube channel.
RACE DAY – 16th September 2018 – Step 2 of the runRICKYrun Project.
Pre race prep always includes laying out the full kit.
I walked slowly from the hotel to the start. It was about 2km and was perfect to get the legs moving. It was cool and the sun was just breaking through the early morning mist. As I was staying local to the “start and finish” areas I decided to forgo the baggage drop and just leave post race straight back to the hotel.
I was in wave 4 which meant that my start was 55 minutes after the elite runners (wave 1) at 10:05am. By this time the sun was already up in the corral and I was trying to shelter behind a taller person (being short does have some advantages).
We heard the gun go at 09:00 as the elite started. There was music playing and we were striking up conversation with those around us, however the wait seemed to be endless. Wave 2…… Wave 3….. At this point wave 4 were ushered forwards. I made the decision to take a last minute toilet break (Glad I did) and then rejoined Wave 4 about 300m from the start line.
They tried to entertain the last wave with some warm up exercises and dancing to the music (some of these videos are available on my youtube channel). It was ok and fun to watch but I was just so keen and desperate to start.
Bang goes the starting pistol and we were off. It took several minutes to make the way from behind the line to the start, but then we were off. We were running the Berlin Marathon.
The road was wide and we hit the first roundabout with the Russian Statue in the middle. Runners split either side, I chose north as I was running on the right side.
I was trying to hug the “blue line” as much as possible, however due to sheer numbers of runners it is not likely to be able to cut across all the tangents. Hence for me I know that a marathon is not 42.195km it is more likely to be around 42.7km at least.
The first 5 km went smooth in 32:38.
The next 5km followed around equal pace too 10km in 1:05:44
I was not familiar with the route so it was hard to completely understand where we were.
At this point I would add that the German support was certainly quieter than the people of Boston. There were bands and these selective areas were the best to run through, but there was a lot less of personal motivation – did not hear the familiar “run Ricky” as I have done on most other marathons.
15km in 1:38:24 and I was feeling good. No pains, pace was consistent. I did need a quick toilet break at just past 19km. Luckily the queue was only 1 person so it was not too long to wait.
20km also came and went at 2:12:02.
I would say at this point I was comfortable. It was now midday and the heat was rising but I had done 26km since the marathon and my body was dealing with this well. My estimated finish time was around 4:35:00 – I would be happy with that…!
25km at 2:49:12 – I had started to slow. Not sure if it was the heat but I could tell my pace had dropped. The challenge was keeping my head. Mentally I am strong – “I will do this”.
These moments of positive thought became more and more frequent. I started to walk during the water stops. It was probably safer anyway as the plastic cups that they used were a major obstacle and made the floor quite slippery. The difference in Berlin – compared to say Tokyo – was the mess that other runners left. Cups were not discarded into a trash box at the side. They were just dumped in the road for the next runner to avoid.
The split from 25km to 30km was slow (42mins) and this meant I was now 03:31:31 at 30km. The last 12 km was going to be tough as the sun was now beating down strongly. Trying to find shade on the wider roads was impossible and we just had to run in the sun.
35km at 04:16:01 was starting to fall behind. I had the 05:00 pacer overtake me close to this point too, so I knew I was now struggling too. This was now the longest run since Boston and my injury. I was using Berlin as long slow distance run for Chicago next month and I did not want any reoccurrence of the calf strain.
The walk breaks were short (max 1 minute 30 seconds) but they were more frequent. It was every water station too that I walked and had two cups of water (or the Beet juice).
At 37km I needed another “leak” – I must of been drinking too much…!
The toilets at this late stage were a little longer to navigate as the queue was a little longer. No excuse for my time though.
40km was reached at 4:59:37 and I had a little over 2 km to go. We were now approaching the area that I had seen when sightseeing. It was more familiar.
Brandeburg Gate – I could see this in the distance. It was an awesome sight. I could not pick up pace but I did not stop. I had nothing left to push at this point and in reality there was no point. Whether I finished a minute faster would make no difference to me really. I was videoing at this point on the GoPro so this can be viewed on my Youtube channel.
Going under the gate was amazing, the crowds and music was playing and the adrenaline was now kicking in. I did not realise that the finish line was around 500m after the gate though. It seemed like longer lol.
That was it – I reached the finish (42.195km) in 5:17:42. This was about 25 minutes faster than Boston.
I was in no pain but my muscles did ache – calves, quads and arms (surprisingly).
The medal was more special as the rear had a picture of Kipchoge who on that day had smashed the world record. The ribbon in the colours of the German flag gave it a quite conservative look. Actually most Berlin marathon medals over the years look the same from the front.
Stats and certificated timings are below: