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Race Reports [Reports Index]

Berlin Marathon
Sunday 29th September 2013
Christof Schwiening

As the major of the World Major Marathon Series, I had to have a go at this one. I took my nephew Josh and his dad. Josh was 18 two days before the race, so started as the youngest of the 40,000 competitors. We discussed what he thought he might be able to do the night before and decided that we might as well attempt 3:03. Since it was his first marathon - and he had done no runs over 13 miles - we didn't have much to go on. However, Josh has run for many years and he is quite active. I thought that I was in good enough shape to do 3:03 although I wasn't quite sure whether the 20 miler two weeks before was cutting things a bit close.
The event was well organized, alhough not as good as the VLM. We 'upgraded' Josh's start pen enclosure to mine - which should have been perfect for a 3:03 attempt. We were nicely within sight of the start line. We held an absolutely flat pace for most of the race - although the GPS watch was next to useless. We held the blue line but, the high buildings rendered the GPS too inaccurate to be useful. At around 10km Josh's stopwatch failed through some random key pressing, and I began to use heart rate to judge the pace. I was also calculating the offsets between the GPS and the real km markers to correct the pace. I think we were within one second per km up to about 35km. At that point Josh began to bonk - he did a valiant attempt at holding on as I was pressing for negative splits. By 40km despite having passed thousands of runners who were slowing on the blue line, Josh came to a standstill and was retching-up the remains of the previous gel. After warning him that he did not want to get pulled off the course he continued. He was, at that point, along with hundreds of others a spent force! I was, however, feeling great! As we passed under the Brandenburger Tor I judged that Josh would be able to finish without me and I sprinted off to take 50 runners in the last 100m. I have never finished both so fast (on average and over the line) and feeling so good!
Josh put in an excellent run for the youngest on the course and came in 4th place in his U20 age group.
The post-event support was good and once Josh's dad finished in a little over 5 hours we managed a rapid escape on the metro.
Whilst the marathon course is flatish and fast - and Berlin is a pretty city - I am not sure that I will do this one again soon. The finishing straight was not as good as London - and the lack of a decent GFA entry system is a pain. My time was a PB for me, but I think I could have done it in many other places!

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