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The BMW Berlin Marathon 2012 – a walker reports

The crowds had obviously spotted all the ‘bra girls’ as they made comments about here’s another one, and there did seem to be a few people who knew who we were and what we were all about – lots of Brits in the crowds!

Val’s BMW Berlin Marathon 2012

After a year in the planning it felt fantastic to be finally on our way to the BMW Berlin Marathon on Friday 28 September. 

After London and Edinburgh Moonwalks our training had not quite gone to plan for Berlin as I had somehow ended up with a groin strain, not through walking training and not sure how it happened but it meant I had been in discomfort after our 18 and 20 mile training walks.

I went to my saviours, at Highworth Physio Clinic, and they got me to a place where I could at least get to the start. I was just relieved to be able to go and give it a try. My friend and walking partner, Sharon, has been brilliant getting me up to speed for a great London Moonwalk time this year and then we had not such a great finishing time in Edinburgh due to the awful weather, which I think everyone can agree with that was there!

We had had lots of e-mails from Nina and the team at Walk the Walk and Sharon and I had met Sarah in Edinburgh in June. We knew there were a few of us with niggling injuries so there were a few extra nerves as well as the usual ones!

We all arrived in Berlin during Friday and made our way over to the Expo at various times of the day. We arrived at our hotel at about 5pm and checked in then made our way by underground which seemed very efficient, though my reading of how to get back went slightly awry and we ended up going the wrong way for a couple of stops! The Expo was on a huge site and we had to walk through lots of different areas to get to the area to pick up our race numbers, timing chips and T shirts if ordered. We did not have to register for the Saturday morning fun run but just turn up.

Note for future entrants: if you order a finishers T shirt check the sizes as we were given small, size 36 which we thought were large (ie bust size) but apparently that is small in German size!!!! The lovely ladies behind the counter swapped them for us – I did look at them and say “there’s no way I would have ordered small”!!!! They looked at me understandingly and must have agreed with me – luckily!

After getting back to the hotel we made sure what time we had to meet on the Saturday morning and then it was off to bed.

Leonie, Sarah, Pam and Julie had taken an open top bus tour on the Friday evening and confessed to a visit to McDonald’s for pre-walk cake and ice-cream!

BMW Berlin Marathon Friendship Run

On Saturday we all met at breakfast and were ready to leave the hotel at 8.30 am to travel over to Schloss-Charlottenberg to take part in the Friendship Run, or walk in our case! We met the Sole Running group from USA and they wanted loads of pictures with us at the start, our bra T shirts proved very popular! It was a 5k distance ending up in the Olympic Stadium which was just fantastic, Sally managed to get interviewed but we aren’t sure if or when any of this would have been aired on TV.  We all lined up on the track for a photo call.

In the afternoon a few of us headed off to visit the Holocaust Museum and a few of us went on the open top bus tour. The most amusing thing was the tour guide pointing out all the building sites and what we would see on all these sites if we came back in a year! The roads were starting to be closed off so our bus tour did get a little diverted but we saw lots of sights including Checkpoint Charlie, the remaining bits of the Berlin Wall and the Reichstag, along with the Brandenburg Gate which we all knew we would be waiting to see and walk through at the end of the Marathon on Sunday. Some of the team managed to see the inline skaters and Julie is adamant that she will be entering next year and aim to be 1st lady back in the in-line skating race!!! – especially as many of the competitors seemed much older than she was!  Nobody else seemed keen to join her but a few said they would come and watch!!!

We all went back to the hotel and had a little rest before getting ready for our team tactics talk before our dinner at Brunello. The food did take a little while to come but when it arrived it was very nice, of course we all had major carbs and lots of water! Then it was back to the hotel and to bed for an early night!

BMW Berlin Marathon day dawned bright and sunny.

We all got up OK and had breakfast and were ready to leave the hotel at 7am to travel a few stops on the underground to the entrance to the BMW Berlin Marathon site. It was a tad chilly but the time went very quickly and we found our way to the pen for Power Walkers – H.

I had managed to talk Sharon into starting with the faster walkers as I didn’t want her to be in a position where she would be left on her own if I had to stop due to my leg/groin starting to hurt.  Luckily she saw the good sense in that as there is nothing worse than walking at a much slower pace than you would normally. I really wanted her to get a good official marathon time as this was her first official Marathon so to speak. I know the pace she is capable of so I was so pleased and it took a lot of pressure and worry away from me as I knew I could just do my best to get round and finish.

We went through the start area at 9.20 am. There were still loads of runners going past us even though the area we were in was marked for power walkers. We soon got into our various strides with the faster group heading off up in front. I had my Garmin on and for once it behaved itself straight away and was tracking my pace fairly correctly.

Having spoken to the others after the event we all agreed that the organisation was absolutely fabulous, the support of the crowds was brilliant on the whole route and there was lots of different bands on route to help us keep going. There was plenty of water, power drinks and fruit at all the stations on the route and the volunteers were so keen for us to have refreshments. There was also warm tea at one point which a few of us had and it was lovely.

The route was great, fairly flat with nothing that you could really call a hill. On many parts of it you could choose to walk in shade but there were bits where the sun felt a bit hot over the midday period but there was also a nice breeze in places. There were various showers on route that you could walk through and numerous fire engines with water cannons spraying people to cool them down.  Personally I don’t think the firemen were as friendly in Berlin as New York – but that’s another story!!!  Leonie was so impressed with the firemen’s hoses she went under 6 times to make sure she was very wet!

The crowds had obviously spotted all the ‘bra girls’ as they made comments about here’s another one, and there did seem to be a few people who knew who we were and what we were all about – lots of Brits in the crowds!

I had taken painkillers and did have to slow down around mile 15 but then picked up the pace again just after 20 miles. We were I think all so committed to getting round to the finish and after walking with Christina for a bit I said she should go for it as I had just started to slow down a bit then.  Tunde then caught up with me after walking with Sally and she went on ahead to eventually meet up with Christina so they crossed the finish line together.

The fact that the markers were in km was a little confusing but I had my Garmin and that helped me keep my pace fairly consistent. I was waiting to turn the corner and see the Brandenburg Gate and when I did I got very emotional and tears were running out of my eyes, I was just so happy to have got this far.  I was hurting but that is a small price to pay. The crowds at the finish of the BMW Berlin Marathon were fantastic and I managed to take some photos of them which they loved. I clapped at them too, they really helped get me along that finish straight.

Shortly after I came through the finish Sally arrived and had been walking with an American lady that I had walked with for a while and chatted too – ever the preacher she was spreading the Walk the Walk word and telling said lady how fab it would be if she came over to do a Moonwalk! We went off to get our results and all congregated in Starbucks for drinks and cakes whilst the faster group had already had German sausage and chips which apparently was very impressive. After the event the women in bras proved a major tourist attraction in front of the Brandenburg Gate – the Japanese especially loved us!

We all got taxis back to the hotel and had a glass of bubbly to celebrate. We had a photo call and there was a fair bit of curtain twitching going on as we disrobed in the garden at the back of the hotel to have pictures taken in our bras! Then it was time to relax for a bit and get ready for our dinner.  After a short walk we had a lovely meal in Cassambalis. In all honesty most of us were feeling pretty shattered and we didn’t fit in a dessert. After going back to the hotel we all said our goodbyes as there were various departure times the following day.

Sharon and I managed to do some sightseeing on Monday after I had to take more pills and ice my leg for a while as it started hurting quite badly. Once the painkillers kicked in we headed out and went to the Holocaust memorial and Checkpoint Charlie and bought a few souvenirs. We headed back to the hotel to get our bags and then off to the airport.

All in all Berlin was just as brilliant as I thought it would be. It was a magical experience sharing it with a very special group of ladies so thank you Sally, Tunde, Leonie, Sarah, Julie, Pam Christina and of course Sharon.

Now, did anybody hear me say on Sunday that I was never doing a marathon again…

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