When I began the year in January I was headed to Antarctica for the White Continent 50k to complete the last of the continents. Of course when one goal finishes a new one (or often two or three) has to pop up in its place. I had already received acceptance into Tokyo in Asia, Comrades in Africa, and was planning Buenos Aires with Marathon Globetrotters in addition to the Punta Arenas 50k in Chile as part of the WCM festivities, and had my customary North America-heavy schedule, and I had been thinking of finding an excuse to visit New Zealand ever since Karlos moved there so why not sign up for the Wellington Marathon? After all that it left me with the only other easy continent, Europe. And as chance would have it, I got my acceptance email from the Berlin Marathon so no need to go rooting around in Europe for some obscure race. However it was to be the weekend after Buenos Aires, and since it would be my 3rd German marathon (Berlin 2016, and the Kiel Marathon in 2015) no new country.
This time I would work from my company’s European offices in Bonn. It’s a 5 hour ICE train ride from Berlin, but its so much closer than South Florida. After work on Friday I hopped a train bound for Berlin and checked into the most reasonable hotel I could find near Schoss Charlottenburg, where the Saturday morning “Breakfast Run” would start. I rose early and dashed out the door to try to find some of my friends. I ran into Andrew, from Oklahoma, but in a sea of bodies it was impossible to find anyone out of luck it would seem. The 6k was a pleasant lope through the West side of Berlin to the Olympic stadium. Once inside I hung near the fun run finish with an eye out for others I might know. I ran into a few other Globetrotters who recognized either my Globetrotter shirt, or me, and in the midst of conversation with a South African Globetrotter she hands off her phone to someone to take a picture, and lo and behold it is Fort Lauderdale Frontrunner Jose and his friend Joyce. We chat for a bit and on the way out I run into Christelle (aka Smiley), Amy from Texas, Gaby from Chicago. Nowhere to be found is Alicja, or Carol. Later I would find out Meg from Virginia was also here.
I head back to my hotel to check out and into my other hotel, closer to the start. Check in and head to the expo to fetch my race kit. Then back to the hotel before going out to dinner with Alicja. The inline skating marathon had started, which wrecked havoc on getting to her hotel. I eventually gave up on conventional means and grabbed one of the scooters that litter the streets back home and rode one through the Tiergarten to dinner.
After dinner I wanted to snap some night shots of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building by night before bed. I woke up the next morning, raided the hotel breakfast, and headed off to the S-Bahn toward the central train station. Jose was waiting at the entrance to the start village to wish me luck, and once inside I saw JC, who seemed to be trying to figure out how to become a pacer for Berlin, on my way to the start corrals.
I first ran the Berlin Marathon in 2016, to be honest i don’t recall a whole section of it from miles 6-20. I was on some new medication and it made me kind of fuzzy-headed. So I was eager to return this time to have that memory stick properly. Berlin bookends you properly with Victory at the start and Victory at the finish. Victoria is atop the Siegessaule at the start in the Tiergarten, and driving a quadriga above the Brandenburg Gate at the finish. In between the sights and sounds of all of Berlin. The Reichstag and Fernsehturm, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, The Rathaus Schoneberg where Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” line are all highlights, but the finish through the Brandenburg Gate is the most memorable.
It’s a flat course, and it was overcast, and rainy, and cold enough that my first order of business after I finished was to head to the train station to warm up. Unfortunately among the 44,000 others I missed more than a few friends. I guess I’ll have to hope I catch them next time.