This is another marathon blog penned by Geoffrey. It’s for the runners who will understand it. This was our second visit to Berlin in 4 years and although the main purpose this time was the marathon event we still had plenty of time exploring the sights of this fascinating city. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in knowing more about visiting this destination.
Over to Geoffrey …
Half way during my final training run before the marathon I tripped on one of Copenhagen’s famous cobblestone walkways. As I was going down I thought, “bugger, this may not end well !”. Ten months of hard training could go out the door with a broken hand or arm. A few weeks earlier I had a similar clumsy moment which resulted in a bad cut above my right eye and which required 6 stitches and the loss of my $200 eye glasses. Now, as I was about to hit the ground again, I thought I’d happily settle for that …
There was an air of expectancy leading up to the running of the 45th Berlin Marathon. There was a lot of talk of the favourite Eliud Kipchoge aiming for a new world record. Of course, for us mere mortals concerned with just finishing, all this talk would in no way have any effect on our own runs – or would it ??
The morning of the run was perfect – cool, fine and windless. Each wave started off with the Iceland Viking Clap which helped the adrenaline flows and greatly eased the nerves before the gun. The Start is really is an amazing sight – 40,000 runners lined up along the Straße des 17 !
By the time I crossed the start line I was on a high and had long forgotten about the grazes on my right arm that I had sustained from my fall in Copenhagen !
My primary goal was to complete the whole course without having to walk at some point. I’d only achieved this in less than half of my previous marathons. This meant being conservative for the first half and trying to finish strong – possibly with a negative split. The second goal was to run a personal best (“PB”), and finally, if pigs could fly – to run a sub 4 hour time. I knew that if I ever achieved that I would die with a smile on my face !
I felt pretty good for the first 20kms. The course takes you along the main sights of Berlin such as the Reichstag, the Siegessäule, Berliner Dom, Brandenburg and Potsdamer Platz in a big loop through the entire city. I passed the half way mark at 2 hrs 2min and so was on for a new PB (yay!). However I would inevitably soon start to tire and so a sub 4 was now likely out of the question.
At 30km I noticed one of the thousands of spectators holding out a sign – New World Record 2:01:39 !! This was an unbelievable time – Eliud Kipchoge had smashed the old mark by 1 minute 18 seconds. If he could run an incredible time then so could I ! This news was so inspirational for a tiring runner. I decided then and there to throw caution to the wind and just go for it for the last 12km. Breaking with my pre-race strategy it was likely to all blow-up in my face. At best I’d end up limping pathetically through the famous Brandenburg Gate toward the finish. At worst I’d have a DNF next to my name. But I realised that this was the Berlin Marathon and it was now or never to give it your best shot.
Miraculously my legs didn’t fall off and my training held true and I crossed the finish in 3 hours 58 minutes.
The smile is still on my face…