Shona Thompson, 7 Continents Marathon Club & North Pole Marathon runner, World Marathon Major medal seeker and RunABC blogger gives us the low down of her tim in the historic and culture city of Berlin for the annual BMW Berlin Marathon.
A quick recap…
I ran my first marathon with Sports Tours International in New York in 2010, and despite vomiting and a fairly high degree of pain at mile 23, I really enjoyed it and I was buzzing for about a week afterwards. At that time, I thought I would only ever run one marathon. I thought the story would end there. However, it was actually only the beginning.
Since then, I have ticked off London, Chicago and Tokyo with the support of Sports Tours International. I’m just back from Berlin, where I completed the 5th Major and what a major it was too!
Berlin 2016 – The preparation
As usual, there were a number of unexpected challenges throughout the training for Berlin! Three weeks before the race, I managed to pick up a monster virus which left me with chills, sweats, a cold, sneezing fits and a hacking cough! As such, taper became total rest with a bit of anxiety thrown in as I didn’t know if I would recover in time. Thankfully, I recovered sufficiently to get on the flight and take part but any hopes of a new PB were left in the U.K.!
The Berlin Marathon
I arrived on the Friday afternoon and headed straight to the expo. I usually enjoy wandering round the expo but not on this occasion! Whether it was because it was heaving or because I just wanted to rest, my expo experience was all about getting my number and getting out of there!
When I got to the hotel, the checkin was flawless. Still not feeling on form, I headed to my room to rest. No doubt other runners were drinking beer and taking selfies at the Brandenburg gates but not me! I wanted to sleep instead! The next morning, I met the delightful Gill and Paul from Sports Tours who answered a few last minute questions. I saw lots of runners in the hotel reception off for a run. I was not tempted to join! Instead, I went for a gentle wander.
The next morning was race day! As we headed to the start, there was the usual excited and nervous chatter from the other runners. The temperature was cool but set to rise to 24 degrees later. The air was fresh and sun was bright overhead. The atmosphere was very special and start area was majestic, with the famous Reichstag building in the backdrop. It took nearly 20 minutes to cross the start line and with every step towards the start, the sense that this was a world class race became more intense.
‘The most spectacular and memorable finish I’ve ever experienced’
Over the fast and flat 26.2 mile route between the start and finish near the world famous Brandenburg Gates, there are a some wonderful sights from the Berlin Cathedral to the State Opera House. For me, the highlight was running through the Brandenburg Gates towards the finish. I think that has been the most spectacular and memorable finish I’ve ever experienced.
Berlin marathon is without doubt a race worth doing. It perhaps lack the charity element of London, and the sense of humour of Tokyo but it also more relaxed than the US Majors in my view. There is something very uplifting about running past so many defining buildings in our world’s history. This is a unique and incredible event.
– Being part of the second fastest marathon in history, with the winner just a few seconds off the world record.
– Running through a city steeped in history
– The fantastic race organisation
– The smiling volunteers at the aid stations.
– The amazing crowd support. The cities really do come alive on the day.
– The exceptionally friendly and helpful Sports Tours international team.
– The finish line: nowhere is the full spectrum of human emotion purer that at the end of a marathon from tears of joy and smiles from exhilaration to utter exhaustion.
If you would like to run Berlin for yourself, travel packages to the 2017 BMW Berlin Marathon are now on sale here. If a half marathon is more your thing, check out the Berlin Half Marathon here.
Next up – Boston Marathon – April 2017
Boston Marathon is another legendary course. Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world and, arguably one of the most prestigious running events in the calendar. The course itself is full of incredible sights and sounds and I’m intrigued to discover how the journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square unfolds for over 30,000 runners on 17 April 2017.
Sports Tours International
If you enjoy travel and running, they are constantly evolving their international running offerings. The team are enormous fun and let you focus on enjoying the race, without worrying about flights, hotels and transfers!