Dead Runners society race report
24th Berlin Marathon, Germany - Sonntag 28th September
And now for the big race of 1997, off to the Berlin marathon to try and set a new marathon pb on one of the world's fastest courses.
Back from Germany, here's the story of "Tony and Shelley's adventures in Berlin"
Got up early and ran 2 very easy miles then off to Heathrow. Got stuck on the M25 (aka the world's biggest car park) in a horrendous traffic jam and we only just made the plane to Berlin in time. Arrived safely in Berlin and off to our hotel in the former East Berlin. Shelley had visited Berlin before and after the fall of the wall and was amazed by how much it had changed since then. There were a few old buildings in the east complete with WW2 bullet holes but particularly in the city centre there was loads of construction going on and lots of shiny new buildings. You could see where the wall used to be from where there were the most building sites! Our hotel was shiny and new and it was in an area full of shiny new buildings. Very few communist era cars on the street, lots of shiny new cars on the road as well.
In spite of all this rebuilding there was still a lot more happening in the west so we headed west for a look round and a very nice chinese meal, carboloaded on lots of rice.
2 miles very easy in the morning and then we
headed west to Kurfurstendamm, Berlin's
main shopping street and also the marathon finish. We went on a coach tour of the city which showed all the city
sights in both east and west, quite good
although by sitting on the top deck of the bus all we saw were trees in some parts of the city. USA deads Joan
Cook and Conrad Halling were arriving
today to run the marathon so we went to their hotel but they were out. Then off to the marathon expo to
get our numbers and timing chips, I bought myself a marathon t-shirt
and sweatshirt as well as a new
headband. Had a nice evening meal in the west before heading back
the hotel shiny-new, east Berlin. Spoke to Joan on the phone before we went to bed.
2 miles very easy in the morning on the day
before the race. We went to Alexanderplatz for a look round, this was the centre
of Berlin before the division of the city
and it has changed a lot since the wall fell, the city centre is moving east again. We had a meal in an
imagine that 10 years ago in East Berlin! Back to the hotel for an early night.
Sunday 28th - RACE DAY
Awake at 6am before my alarm call came, this
was it. Down to breakfast with a lot of
nervous marathon runners. Spoke to Joan on the phone to arrange a pre-race meeting place then off we went to the start.
We arrived just after 9am but we couldn't
see Joan or Conrad :-( I was desperately looking for a drink by now but there was NO WATER at the start. Can
you imagine that, one of the biggest and
best mass marathons in the world and there was no water! They have drinks coming out of your ears in London.
Got my race gear on and put the rest of
my stuff in my kit bag and put it on the appropriately numbered lorry then into my starting area. Runners
were only allowed into the starting area
corresponding to their estimated or best time so with my
3h09.02 from Canberra 94 I got quite close to the front, a lot nearer the front than I've ever got in London. About 10 mins before the start I took off my old t-shirt and tracksters I was using to keep warm, I'd finally managed to get a drink off another runner. The race announcer said good
luck in lots of different languages, this was it.
Bang and off we went, I was over the line
pretty quickly, I saw about 10 seconds on
my watch as I went over the timer chip mat on the start line (this will be important later). Conditions were pretty
good, fairly cool and sunny with only a
gentle breeze. As soon as I cleared the start I was able to run hard, very wide road for the first few
miles. I went through 1 mile in 7.24
(from the starting gun), at about 2 miles through the Brandenburg Gate and into east Berlin. I felt a bit
uncomfortable in the first few miles as
I've never gone off this quickly in a mass marathon.
However, my plan was to go out at about 7 minutes/mile and this is what I was doing and what I'd been training for. I wasn't trying to race anyone although I was passing and being passed continuously. 5km in Alexanderplatz by the american restaurant in 21.49 and the first drinks station, a real scrum with such a bit pack of runners but I managed to get something and felt a lot better for a drink. Kept cruising along through east Berlin, the crowd were very supportive and made loads of noise. 5 miles in 35.03, bang on schedule. 10km in 43.34, my legs weren't feeling quite as easy by now but I was still moving along well. At around 11km we went back into west
Berlin although you couldn't tell the difference between east and west as you ran along. Still going along well and by now I was noticing runners who had overtaken me earlier coming back to me. 15km in 1h05.16 and 10 miles in 1h09.57, still cruising along at around 7 minute pace. Every km and every 5 miles were marked, having the km markers meant you were always close to a
distance marker, the km splits were all around 4.20ish although I would lose a few seconds in a km with a drinks stop in it, I was not impressed with the drinks stations, if I'd managed to have got a proper drink at the start I could have tried missing a few of the early drinks stops but I didn't want to risk that, good job it wasn't a warm day.
20km in 1h26.54 and now I was starting to
feel some heaviness in my legs :-(
Halfway in 1h31.46, I'd planned to get to halfway in 1h33 but I didn't
expect to get such a good start. Still rolling
along at 7 minute pace, 15 miles in
1h45.03 and 25km in 1h48.50. Gradually started to slow by now
although I knew the next 10km had a very slight climb in it and I was ahead of pb schedule. 30km in 2h11.31 and 20 miles in 2h21.40, only 10km left to run 47.22. By now I was trying to extrapolate my km splits to a projected finish time and it kept coming out at 3h09, pushed on a bit harder from
33km. 35km in 2h34.38, this was the high point of the race, a whole 20m above the start, not quite heartbreak hill!
Felt slightly easier on the gentle downhills
but I was relaxing too much, should have
been pushing harder. I was feeling very tired by now but I expected to by this stage. I was passing more runners
than were passing me by now, there were a
few walking and I even passed a lady with an elite
number on! 40km in 2h58.54, the last 5km had taken 24.16 and I went through 25 miles in 3h00.05.
In all my pre-race planning I wanted to be
well inside 3 hours at 25 miles so I
could "enjoy" the last mile or be well outside so I could jog it in, I
didn't want to have to come in "eyeballs out".
Made the last turn into Kurfurstendamm
for the last mile and gradually tried to pick up the pace, other runners around me were trying to do the same. My
body was starting to complain by now and
I was starting to cough and splutter a bit but nearly there. At about 3h07 I could see the big ZIEL (German
for finish) banner ahead and I gave it
everything I had, when I could see the clock it was
just about to change from 3h08.5x to 3h09.00 but then I remembered my 10 seconds at the start and I crossed the finish in 3h.09.0x, I stopped my watch in 3h09.09 just after the finish.
Very very tired on finish, no feeling of
triumph as I'd just missed my target time
although intellectually I knew I'd set a pb by a few seconds thanks to the timer chip. It didn't feel anything like
as good as London where I'd run 6.5
minutes slower but I'd achieved my target of Boston
qualification. Got my medal and space blanket, the medal had a picture of double olympic marathon champ Waldemar Cierpinski of the former east Germany, the man himself was running today, can't be many marathon runners with a personalised finishers medal!
Got a drink and a banana and another drink
and an apple, I had to keep walking to
the baggage lorries, at one stage I didn't think I would make it I felt so tired but I staggered on and finally got my
kit bag and got somewarm clothes on. Finally out of the finish area and there
was Shelley in
reunion area, what a wonderful sight :-)
Shelley ran the first 11km or so with Conrad
and Joan, they finally met up just before
the start. Shelley was never going to run the whole race after her injury but she'd entered the race so she just did
it as a training run. We joined the
massage queue and got our legs massaged, there was a bit of a wait but it was well worth it, my legs felt a lot
better for the massage. We waited for
Conrad and Joan but never met up with them, see you in St. Louis next year. Off to Pizza Hut for a post race
meal, my reward for finishing the race
:-) Lots of other marathoners were in there as well. We
went off to the finish area where I was able to get an official printed result sheet which gave me 3h09.07 gun to finish line and 3h08.45 start line to finish line time, a new pb by 17 seconds :-) :-) :-) :-) That will do me just fine, aren't timing chips wonderful :-) I think I might update the DRS marathon pb list soon :-)
Back east to the hotel after a long but eventually successful day.
We were woken up at 6am by an alarm call,
they gave us another alarm call at the
same time as sunday even though we didn't request one :-( Never really got back to sleep so just after 7am got my
running gear on and staggered out for a
very slow 2 miler. The first 1/2 mile wasn't pretty but
I was able to run a bit easier after that. Back to the hotel, breakfast was full of weary looking runners. Packed and checked out and off to the hotel. At the check in for the flight back to London we met John Disley, a former olympic runner and co-founder of the London marathon with Chris Brasher. John was in Berlin as the official AIMS (Association of International Marathons) observer and course measurer. We had a chat with John on the plane on the way back about marathons and course measurement, a nice man to talk to.
So finally made it to the end of a marathon length post. Thanks to Ron Gerughty for all the coaching advice and to "The Beautiful Shelley" for putting up with a tapering marathoner and for being my interpreter and guide in Berlin.
Next marathon, BOSTON!
ageing chemistry student and marathon runner
Milton, Cambridgeshire, England
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