Berlin Marathon 2011
I did it - the Berlin Marathon! It took me 5 hours 45 minutes, at a leisurely pace, including stopping for toilets, free massage and loads of free refreshments. I ran with two other English people, one my mate Kat and another woman called Anne who we met in the toilet queue before the race started.
Running the marathon was honestly one of the most fun I'd had in ages.
A few days before, Kat and I went to the expo at Tempelhoff Airport, and there I met a couple, who joined me at the outdoor picnic tables. The man told me 'Definitely do the fun run the morning before the marathon. You won't regret it.' It was quite a bold move for me to run 6km before my first ever marathon, especially one that had been marred by shoddy training and serious confidence knocks. But he assured me, it was worth it.
The day before the marathon, I joined what became an increasingly mammoth sized party on the U-bahn at Merringdam station. People from literally every country hopped on the train, most of them in garish costume garb, which was totally amusing. The fun run started at a pace that I wouldn't normally even jog in, but I kept up with the majority, even though I could feel many people wanting to push on, through the crowds. I was around some seriously hardcore runners. What was I doing? Still the crowds were friendly, upbeat, stopping off to take group photos (the Japanese & Mexicans rocked) for each other and before I knew it, we were running just outside the perimeter of the Olympic Stadium. Next - we were running through it. The run had finished. We watched ourselves smiling on large TV screens. I was grateful for the free breakfast being handed out in the front, complete with a DJ and soundsystem; I felt simultaneously thrilled and cringy.
Cue 6am the next morning. The day of truth saw me getting to Tiergarten at 7.45am, for a 9am start from the centre. The proceeding 5 + hours was a civilised, exciting jaunt through every nook and cranny that Berlin provided, moving from Charlottenburg over to the East and then South through Kreuzberg, then West and then back up towards Tiergarten once again.
Literally all of Berlin and its residents emptied out into the streets to encourage us on, organising street parties, bands, jazz ensembles, raves, and shouty brigades. The sights and sounds were surreal, fun, inane and everything you'd hope for on a Sunday when you're sweating out everything you've got for charity.
Speaking of which, I managed to raise over £400 for 2 charities - my totals are here
On to Barcelona, from the intrepid marathon runner!