Berlin Marathon 2014 Race Recap

It’s been a crazy fall and I have a lot to catch you up on!  The Hy-Vee Tri that I was fairly gung-ho about in my last post, ended up being fairly disappointing. Flooding reduced it to a sprint instead of an Olympic distance, but that was probably a blessing in disguise. I only would have been disappointed in the fitness I had lost since last year. However, Hy-Vee is always a great race: awesome swag, big crowds and a fun post-race celebration with friends 😀 My goal is to do the Hy-Vee Tri every year.

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A few weeks later, we were off to Berlin! I’ll keep this recap short and sweet with mostly pictures. To sum up my run: I struggled, but I had fun with friends and a blast exploring Berlin on foot. I ran with Paul, and my friend, Ferg (it was his first full marathon!) and I am so glad that we mostly stuck together for the whole race 😀 We had two other friends that ran with us too, but they ran at their own pace.

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Fernsehturm Berlin

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Berliner Dom

This was my first time in Europe and I absolutely loved it. Bikes everywhere! We did a ton of sightseeing in the 4 days prior to the race and while the time on our feet wasn’t conducive to a great race, Berlin was purely about survival and fun. No PRs and certainly no A games.

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The expo was hands down the largest expo I have ever seen (including Chicago and Boston!). Room after room of vendors, but we lucked out and barely had any waiting to do since we went first thing on Friday. One very neat thing was that they actually printed out your bib while you waited.  It was much quicker than searching through a pile. I also didn’t realize that they do not provide a t-shirt, even at the finish line. I’ve never done a race that doesn’t give you a shirt!.. but there was plenty of options to buy one at the expo.

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A Runner Brandenburger Tor at the Expo

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At the Expo

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A necessary souvenir

We stayed in Mitte at a cheaper hotel (EasyHotel) for the first few days we were in Berlin and then switched to the Grand Hyatt for Saturday and Sunday.  The Grand Hyatt was less than a mile to the starting area and a nice place, but pricey if you book without points.

The race didn’t start until 8:45 am, so it was strange to not wake up until 7am on a race day! Breakfast was provided by our hotel and this was my favorite part: I actually ate a pretzel before the race. I wasn’t intending on it, but when it came between a bagel and pretzel: the pretzel wins!

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The breakfast spread. I got the pretzel!

We made the walk over to the starting area and it was very easy to figure out where to go. Almost everything is in English in Germany, so we were easily able to grasp where to go and how to use the subways/trains while sightseeing.

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Walking to the race start!

 

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Waiting for the race to start. They handed these out :)

The starting line crowd was ENORMOUS. They even had some cheerleaders get up and lead the crowd through a jazzercise like warm-up. I didn’t really participate other than bob around to the music, but it was fun to watch the old guys and most of the crowd waving their arms and swaying and bouncing.

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Not a great picture, but shows the cheerleaders leading the crowd and the mascot, Fritz!

 

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Check out the running shoes on this guy! They have heels!

The first few miles were fairly crowded, but it thinned out. I would say the crowds of the race were comparable to Chicago.. packed at first, but you can get around when you need to. Even once it thinned out, there was constantly a ton of people, but with enough space to pass and breathe.

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You can just barely see the starting line up ahead. SO many people!

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Crossing the start!

It was an interesting experience running a race measured in kilometers. It makes you feel like you are FLYING at first, but by the time you get to 35km, it is a struggle trying to do the mental math to figure out how long to go! 😀

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21km = halfway!

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A shot from the course!

The best surprise: Hot tea served at aid stations is AWESOME and a magical elixir. The worst surprise: plastic cups are hard to run through! It is a miracle that I didn’t trip on these!

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Paul running through the hoards of plastic cups. It was starting to get warm out!

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We passed a lot of the sites that we had seen earlier in the week…. but hands down my favorite part was moments before the finish line when you run under the Brandenburg Gate. Incredible!

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Superman Ferg right after running under the Brandenburg Gate

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After running under the gate, the finish line feels rather small, but it felt so so good to finish! The medals are simple, but gorgeous. I’ll admit I’m getting a tad tired of the bigger is better attitude of medals we have in the states.

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After the marathon, the REAL fun started! We spent one more night in Berlin, took a fantastic train ride to Munich (YAY to no open container laws on trains!) and then spent one glorious week in carb heaven: Oktoberfest!

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Post race at the Brandenburg Gate

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Trains with bars are the best

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View of part of Oktoberfest from the top of the Ferris Wheel

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Inside on of the beer tents!

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Ferg holding 5 beers at one time

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Inside another beer tent! These can hold around 5,000-8,000 people in just one! And there were a dozen of these!

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Outside of another beer tent

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THE BEST FOOD. Cream cheese and chive stuffed pretzel. OMG. We ate these 3 times.

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Day Trip to Bavaria to see Neuschwanstein Castle. Gorgeous.

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