This was my first Berlin marathon and as such I don’t have much to compare it to. I have previously done two marathons but they were 2 and 3 years ago at Goodwood, I actually got a faster time three years ago than two!! For the people trying to imagine the Berlin marathon (especially those that have only every done races on circuits) it is just like the London marathon… only in Berlin… and on skates! It is through the streets of Berlin and crowds line the streets shouting encouragement. Unlike the London marathon it is also very smooth and a very nice surface to skate. The Berlin marathon is both a skate race (on the Saturday) which draws around 9000 skaters and a running race (on the Sunday) which draws over 40000 runners.
I decided to fly out on the Friday and fly home on the Saturday after the race, a decision which I am regretting as I sit here on the plane home writing this. With the race at 4:30pm and not finishing until 7:30pm the rush to catch our plane at 9:45 has almost killed me more than the actual race! Plus I miss the party afterwards but I have heard mixed reviews about that anyway!
The race went well though, yes Berlin is supposed to be one of the easier marathons but I thrashed any of my previous records by doing it in 1:45:48! I am quite chuffed with that! Previously I have taken just under 3 hours and my training was telling me that I wouldn’t do much better! I guess the big difference with training is the lack of pace lines, I got very lucky and managed to cut behind a skater that kept me going the entire race. In fact I think it was a really good partnership, he stayed in front all the way which was a bit cheeky of me but I was able to give him a push every now and then to help catch packs up and of course I got his draft nearly all the way. Thank you Howard if your reading this!
My ankle started to rub at about mile 4 and I was petrified that it was going to cripple me but while it didn’t stop and I have a nice blister it was skatable. I tried very hard not to keep looking at my GPS, obviously I wanted to know how far it was, It was strange that huge chunks of miles would go in a flash and then you would seem to make no progress at all.
The starting of the marathon was interesting, we started in blocks which were based on ability. Block A was Professional teams, Block B was professional individuals and then it was teared back to block G for anyone with a previous marathon time of over 2 hours… which is where I was! I tried to start at the front of my block hoping that as faster skaters passed me I could hop behind them and that worked quite well. It wasn’t long before I had caught up with the back of block F which had left 2 mins earlier but after that all the blocks had merged. I was amazed at the number of skaters that couldn’t pace line though! Especially on corners, it would seem that the entire line would break apart on a corner and then scrabble to re-form afterwards. There was a bit of slalom to do to as most of the race we seemed to be overtaking people who were weaving all over the place!
All in all a great race, I think I would still recommend Goodwood as a good first marathon but from what I hear then Berlin is the best introduction to a foreign marathon.