September 2018

Berlin Marathon: The Road & Expo

Before I babble on about the amazing experience I had of the Berlin Marathon, I wanted to provide some background about how I accidentally ended up there.

I applied to the ballot for Berlin last year, on a complete whim, after reading Big Carl Running’s post. I read Carl’s recap and thought, sounds a good, I’ll enter, not even considering that when the ballot results were announced that I may actually get an email that said Congratulations.

Six weeks later, not long after my second marathon in Dublin, there is was. Congratulations. Payment received, Berlin 2018 was on.

Training had gone just ok. With it being such a warm summer, long runs were hard with some put on hold because it was simply too warm. I got used to doing little and often, drinking plenty of electrolyte sports-drinks and being slow. Any speed that I once had went completely and I felt that every 10-steps forward, I went 30 back.

Marathon day was approaching, I had a work event on the west coast of America (flying home three days before marathon day) and generally towards the end of the training cycle I felt under-prepared, tired and most of all, nervous.

As ever, packing was left until the night before. Just about packed, I received a message. My air b’n’b had cancelled … six hours before we were due to leave home. Mixed with all the above feelings, I was hysterical but luckily Harry fixed it and booked us a hotel within 20 minutes. Berlin was still on.

The flight was full of runners (and a rather annoying stag party), excited for the weekend ahead. A nap on the flight and we had landed. First job, the expo.

We headed straight there from the airport – it was at a disused airport called Templehof, about a 45 minute S/U-Bahn ride away from the airport. It opened at 11 (Friday) and I arrived not long after only to be turned away because we had suitcases. We would have to join a queue (number one of the day) to put our luggage in storage then queue to pick it up after. To save time, we decided that Harry would wait outside and I would ‘pop in’.


The understatement of the year. You could not ‘pop in’ to the expo. It was huge. First into one hall focused on the mini-marathon. Then down a long corridor to an outdoor area with food stalls and stalls for the inline skating marathon. I followed the signs and joined a queue for runners only. I wasn’t too sure what I was doing here but I went with it, until I got to the front and had to show my ID and start card. We were getting wrist-banded.

Wristband on I followed the crowds into the next room – a large airline hanger with everything running related that you ever needed. Basically I didn’t need to use up all of my hand luggage liquids on high5 gels because I could get everything and more. Following the signs we were lead into a second hanger, similar to the first. Upon entering the third I found the area for collecting pre-ordered finishers t-shirts (risky) with no queue so I thought I’d get in their quick. No can do, I had to collect my number first.

I found the number collection towards the back of the third hanger and joined the crowded queue. Feeling quite stressed – there were so many people – there was finally a little more order when a system came in place. It went pretty fast from here and the next thing I knew my number and timing chip were safely in my hands.


Collected my bag, had a look at the official marathon clothing and went back to get my t-shirt. I left the expo pretty soon to meet Harry and do some sightseeing. Everything I needed (including myself) were in Berlin.

Berlin was happening.


Coming up: Breakfast run …


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