Berlin Marathon, 25th September 2022

On Sunday, Eliud Kipchoge set a new men’s world record in the Berlin Marathon, taking 30 seconds off his previous benchmark from 2018. The women’s record remained intact, despite the sterling effort of Maria Dueñas. Huge congratulations to Maria for her achievement, she had this to say about her experience:

This was my first World Marathon Major race, and it did not disappoint. Berlin is a beautiful and unique city with a lot of history. I arrived a few days early to enjoy the city, its rich history, as well as all the race events. My Friday started by heading to the Expo straight from the airport to pick up my bib. The Expo was held at the old Berlin Airport and once you arrived, you had to queue twice: one to check for ID and one to put on a fabric wristband (to identify you as a runner and make sure you didn’t transfer bibs). Once inside, I picked up my bib, my chip, and walked around trying all the free samples (I’m very glad I tried their aid station energy drink because it was disgusting!) After the Expo, I dropped off my luggage at the hotel and decided to explore the city. In the evening, I attended the Meet the Legends event at the ‘Hall of Fame’ area by Brandenburg Gate. It was great to see all the elite runners and hear the crowd cheer.

I did A LOT of walking Friday and Saturday, and my feet were very tired prior to the race. During the weekend, I found it very difficult to prioritise getting race ready versus exploring/being a tourist. I decided to do both but in hindsight, I should’ve relaxed more on Saturday to be well rested and prepared for Sunday… but I have no regrets!

Race day: Getting to the race was stressful! According to google maps, my hotel was only a 20-minute walk from the start line, so I decided to leave the hotel at 7:40 for a 9:15 start. I arrived at the bag drop-off/toilet area at 8:30 and queued for the toilet until 9:10! It was very disorganised, and I was stressed the entire time while waiting. I ended up running out of time and running to the corral area (which was 500 meters away) and unfortunately didn’t make it to the 9:15 start. I did find toilets near the start corrals with no queues, so I wish I would’ve known about these sooner! At the end of day, this hiccup really didn’t matter since the corrals were extremely crowded so I was able to start the race on time and with my pace group.

As for the race, there is a reason the World record was set on this course. It’s very flat and the weather was perfect. This race is also very scenic since you start by running past the Siegessäule (Victory Column) and finish at the Brandenburg Gate; I was able to sightsee and enjoy the city. I started the race with the 3:45 pacer but there were these two men that kept bickering. It was very frustrating, and I didn’t want to be in a negative environment, so I decided to leave the pack and run on my own. The course was marked with blue lines, and someone advised me to follow it since it’s the shortest route. The race started great; I was feeling fine for the first 25 kms but then my feet started bothering me. I’m not sure if it was because of my lack of long runs in my training, tying my shoes too tight, too much walking the days before, or just letting the race get in my head. Either way, I decided to keep going (although I did walk from time to time) and got a burst of energy the last km of the race. I knew the end was near!

On route, there were a lot of aid stations with water, energy drink, tea, apples, bananas, and energy gels. The aid stations were stocked throughout and were very frequent, so I had no problem hydrating throughout the race. I think I drank too much water and had too many gels though because I felt very bloated towards the end of the race! The volunteers were very friendly. For example, I kept asking the marshals if they had news regarding the World Record and they were happy to let me know the result.

As for the spectators, they were amazing and from all over the world! They kept me motivated (although I didn’t know what they were saying), especially towards the end of the race when I really needed it! I also saw a few spectators with the Ecuador flag who cheered me on when I told them I was from Ecuador (I have now bought an Ecuador flag so I can iron it on the back of my Claremont vest for my next international race!)

I was hoping for a sub 3:40 marathon but I finished the race 03:48:11. I got my medal (German flag ribbon with Eliud Kipchoge on one side of the medal and Berlin on the other), my goodie bag (I was expecting a Finisher T-Shirt but you had to pay and pick-up at the Expo before the race if you wanted one. What happens if you don’t finish the marathon? I found it weird that anyone can buy one and wear it before the event), and my finisher poncho. I decided to queue for a massage and that was worth the wait!

I have been waiting to run Berlin Marathon since 2020 and this race did not disappoint. I had a great experience and enjoyed my weekend in Berlin! And as a bonus, I participated in the same race of the new official World Record (2:01:09)!

Laurie Johnson -