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Maria’s Berlin Marathon 2016

Spectators along the route were cheering and banging pans. Bands were playing every few kms, no time to dance though, we were on a mission.

In the years since I started this walking lark I’ve done various events: short ones, long ones; hot ones, cold ones; near ones, far ones…

As summer turned to Autumn last year, I was idly wondering if I’d lose my toenails (I did) and what ordeals I should put myself through over the next 12 months when I suddenly and unexpectedly received a text from Anne, my friend and Walking mentor, asking my plans and would I consider Berlin?

Within 90 minutes we’d agreed to register and to add on a day each side of the trip for sightseeing.

For various reasons, neither of us got a clear run at training for this event, but having had almost a year to walk and try new equipment and strategies, we arrived in Berlin feeling that we were in with a fair chance of finishing inside the 6 hours 15 minutes cut-off time. 

Berlin is a unique city with a truly fascinating history and lots to discover.

Since the wall fell in 1989 and the reunification of Germany in 1990 Berlin has been rebuilt and reconfigured, and today it seems to be retaking its role as a major European capital with some style. 

In a gift shop, my eye was caught by merchandise featuring green and red figures in hats. It seems East Germany had very distinctive traffic light men, known as ”Ampelmanner”, on their pedestrian crossings, and they are on most crossings in Berlin. I particularly liked the green Ampelmann, with his purposeful stride. I adopted him as my mascot for the weekend.

The marathon business began on Friday evening with a walk from our hotel to the Expo to collect our race numbers, our bag of marathon essentials (beef jerky and a sponge – who knew?) and to be securely fastened into our Berlin Marathon wristbands. I’m still securely fastened into mine now!

Saturday morning saw us taking the train to Schloss Charlottenburg for the start of the breakfast run. This was a lot of fun with flags, balloons and fancy dress. We posed in our bras for photos with people from all over the world. There was a real feeling of camaraderie amongst the participants as we made our way through the streets to the Olympic Stadium nearly 6km away. The finish in the stadium with a lap of the track was very special.

Sunday morning we gathered early for the walk to the marathon start line in the Tiergarten - the Brandenburg Gate behind us and Victory in front (it’s a statue, but we hoped for the other victory to be in front of us too!)

The wait was somewhat nervy, and after watching the wheelchairs, handcyclists and elite runner waves start, our time came.

With the wait, the atmosphere and the adrenaline we were coiled springs.

We went off like greyhounds from the traps.

Champion greyhounds.

Champion greyhounds in bras.

In time we settled into our own preferred styles and speeds. 

Spectators along the route were cheering and banging pans. Bands were playing every few kms, no time to dance though, we were on a mission.

By the middle section I found myself amongst a group of slower runners and run/walkers. This was quite a nice part, everyone had their space and spectators would call out to specific people.

The route was marked out in km, so a little arithmetic along the way told me I was on course to finish in time.

Over half way and I’m counting down. A half marathon, a 10k, a 5k, a school run… By now, I had slowed, but I was still walking strongly, if a little painfully. Faster than many runners now who were only managing a few steps at a time.

The happy sight of the Brandenburg Gate was in front of me, as was a group of spectators holding a sign reading “You didn’t train enough”!

Under the arch and there’s the 42km marker with the finish line just beyond. The crowd was cheering, and I waved and punched the air.

I strode purposefully over the line like the green Ampelmann.

A triumphant green Ampelmann.

A triumphant green Ampelmann in a bra.

Maria

Inspired to join the Berlin Marathon Team in 2018?... Enter now! 

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