Sunday, October 04, 2015

BMW Berlin marathon 2015 - my race review - part 1 the travel log

This is part one of a couple of blog posts about my experiences at the Berlin marathon last weekend. Part 1 is something of a travel journal, part 2 will be all about how the race panned out for me...

Berlin marathon 2015 
The fine city of Berlin  - September 27th 2015 - website

My overall impressions from the day:

Course: 10/10 - flat, quick, great start area.
Marshalling: 10/10 - supremely friendly and always helpful.
Facilities: 8/10 - the race the facilities are simply really good.
Organisation: 10/10 - you couldn't fault the event organisation, or the energy they that generate around the event.
Fellow runners: 10/10 - as a World Marathon Major this has everything you would expect including the vibrant knowledgeable field of runners.
Crowd: 10/10 - vocal, enthusiastic, encouraging and all around the course.
My performance: 9/10 - so so pleased to have completed gave the struggles that impeded my preparation this year.
My time: 4:44.24

We opted for an early departure on the Friday before the race from Cardiff International airport (the oddly small trying to be big airport) on KLM to Amsterdam. We got up before dawn and arrived in the departure lounge in time for a very early breakfast, well what looked like breakfast - mostly on offer were pale imitations of pastries and strong chain store coffee. The flight itself was fine except for the an odd offering of an in-flight cheese sandwich - a step up from nuts? Sure! But breakfast?
So, so early - even the sun hadn't woken up
Amsterdam airport was alive and rammed with busy busy people rushing between gates with smartly suited aircrew sliding in between the masses. Once we got across to our boarding gate we found the flight packed with marathoners in expensive shoes, race finisher t-shirts from around the world, carrying triathlon bags, et al. Which made for a nice ambience, and added to my already growing excitement about the event long long before the expo!

It was during this second flight that I discovered I had a blown headphone (one of those expensive Apple ones!), also I discovered that the back of the plane is very very noisy, that 'chips' (nachos) are little better than sandwiches, that it is possible to develop a dad crush on stewardesses at my ripe old age, and that there is no such thing as 'knee room'! Oh, but at least the back of the plane gets food first :-)

Through out our travels we went hand luggage only rather than checking a bag, it was brilliant and made the airport experiences that bit less painful (though conversely of course initial bag packing a bit more of a challenge).

Berlin - a great kind of town
Arriving on the Friday afternoon we had time to do a classic sightseeing tour bus ride around the centre. This is not something I have ever felt the need to do in Berlin before as I used to live there, but it was a good use of time and allowed Mrs. H. the opportunity to get a much better feel of the city. She after all is the one who has to kill several hours whilst I try to get around a 42.2 km course marked out with blue lines. To say that I spent some of the tour looking out for the blue course markers was a bit of a understatement. Happily all kinds of spotting were aided by the great clear weather - an omen I hoped for race day.
Views from the tour bus montage
That night we met up with a school friend who I hadn't seen in far far too long, and went for pizza (I have always assumed pizza = pasta = carb loading??). Meeting up with my friend who was also set to run the race was fabulous, it kind of put the whole weekend into another (quite unique) framing as an event.

Saturday morning we all set off to hunt down race packs and race numbers with the promise not to spend a fortune in the many many stalls we were sure to face. On the way we rehearsed the route to the start, took selfies at the Brandenburg Tor, and had a goodly walk across to the Expo at flughafen Templehof. The expo itself was huge, though gratefully the queues were well managed, and it didn't seem to take any time at all to get sorted out with number, security band, bag and all the necessary bits and pieces.
I don't take many pics inside expo halls - but the queues were pretty good
Feeling happy and fresh (and not just a little déjà vu) in this expo essential photo
The rest of the day before was spent trying and failing (because of time) to visit the area of the city I used to live in, catching up some more with my school friend, enjoying the hotel marathon inspired pasta buffet, and staying up a little too late to watch Wales play England in the IRB Rugby World Cup (thank you Eurosport for saving us, we thought we wouldn't see it in Germany). That only left sleep to be had before race day - well I tried but my brain absolutely had other ideas...

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