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Adventures of Krista and her Sherpa (Tracy)
We arrived in Berlin on the Thursday before the race and stayed in a lovely airbnb flat in Neukolln district. Registration was open so we hoped on our bikes and headed to the Templehof airport to get my number and the race details. The city is steeped in history and the abandoned airport where I registered was the scene of the 1948 airdrop, where western allies responded to the Soviet blockade of land routes into west Berlin by flying in food and supplies with as many as 1300 flights landing in one day.
On the days of registration it is filled with thousands of runners lining up for the race pickup. We met my friend Katarina at the expo, who is a journalist and lives in Serbia. This is her first marathon and I’m so glad to be on the start line with her. She and I made a plan to meet at the Reichstag on the morning of the race. For most of the next two days, Tracy and I cycle around the city, try out many cool cafes and sit in the sunshine.
Race day arrives and I feel really happy that I get to do this. A holiday somewhere amazing with my pal and a little run thrown in. We arrive at the Reichstag in good time and Katarina and I say our farewell to our trusty sherpa with an aim to see Tracy at 7km. As there are less than 10 thousand women in a race of over 40 thousand our bag drop was hidden away at far end of the park. We make our way through the crowds and got to the start in good time.
It was sunny day and by the time our group starts it’s 9:30am and we’re chilly but excited to go. I leave Katarina as she’s a firm race plan with a different pace to mine and the first few miles fly past. It’s lovely to see Tracy right after the 7km spot. She says she’ll hop on her bike and meet me at the 23km mark. The route is a big loop and at 18k I pass our flat and continue along to the west of the city. It’s a sunny and warm (20°c) day but the course is fairly shaded with trees and we’re running through lovely neighbourhoods.
There are so many cheering spectators and water stops every few kilometres and all is going well. I’m running faster than I had with my previous marathons but right on my pace plan. My training log says run 26.2 in 10:28 min miles so that’s my aim! I pass the park just before 23k and start to look for Tracy. There are SO many spectators that I fly by to 24km without seeing her. My notifications on my swanky watch says, text from Tracy: I’m between 22k -23k on the left. Pants! I’m ahead of her. Option 1: hope she realizes and goes ahead or option 2: stop and get my phone out and call her… Yes, option 2 won out and I walked for a bit chatting to her about the next place to meet and we decide on a spot at 32km.
It was rather entertaining that every water stop in 5km intervals after the 25k point there is tea, bananas, energy drink, water and MASSAGE! So you could run to 25k, and get a massage every 5k until 42km at the end! What kind of cool marathon is this?? Ok, I didn’t stop, except to get a stone out of my shoe but it sure was tempting!
I looked for Tracy at 32k and again at 33k, and 34k and then she texted to say she was at 33k. I’ve missed her again – this time option 1 won out and I decided to just carry on to the finish and call her when I was done. Sorry Trac! I wasn’t sure how the last few miles would go but I knew that the finish was just through the Brandenburg gates and not far ahead. I distracted myself by converting the km signs into miles and couldn’t wait to cross the line! I took a whopping 18mins 12 seconds of my previous pb and couldn’t be more happy! Tracy and I finally met up and I think we’re still friends?!? To her credit there were a lot of closed roads and it was tricky to get around the city on race day!
I can highly recommend Berlin, for a trip away and for the marathon. Great city for cycling and gorgeous run.