The Berlin Marathon is arguably one of the most exciting marathons in the world to run, especially for those who are looking to bolster their times in one of the majors. As one of the major marathons, including: New York, Tokyo, Boston, London, and Chicago, it’s long been a destination for professional runners and amateurs who want to take place in history.
Like all marathons – regardless of distinction – it’s known for a varied history and specific course quirks. This year it was sponsored by Giti Tire. What makes the Berlin course noteworthy because of its famous speed, which is considered legendary by those who are interested in the sport. Here, we’ll lay out some of the more interesting facts and truths about this major in September, including some of the major records, its history, and what makes this race unlike any other.
The History of the Race
The first race started in 1974, allowing the runners to traverse the streets of Berlin. It was first started by a Berlin-born baker, Horst Milde. He was as passionate about running as his baking business so much that he decided to combine the two. The race initially wasn’t as seamless as it is today, at least politically, as the race was regulated to West Germany.
Today, you can reasonably expect more than 44 thousand people to take part in the race. Back then, the participant numbers were a bit more paltry, starting out with only about 244 finishers. While it is known today for records that are just a bit over the 2 hour mark, the race’s best finisher posted a time of 2:44:53 on the male’s side.
The women’s side posted a time just over the 3:22 mark. Of all of the 244 finishers, only 10 of them were women.
As many of these things do, the race eventually grew to what we know today, much due to the watchful eye of Milde until his death. After his death, the Charlottenburg Sports Club stepped in to man the race, with his son Mark taking over a lot of the duties as Berlin Marathon’s race director.
However, it wasn’t really something that happened without government and military intervention. Once the unification of Germany happened in October 1990, the race was solidified. What was once a no-go zone for all in Germany was now open to all. 45 years of military occupation ended and allowed the race to expand to the eastern zone of the country for the first time.
This created a shockwave the world over, as the race served as a testament to what can be achieved through diplomacy.
The Race Experience
Avid marathoners, while generally locked in, appreciate what makes this marathon brings to the table. As earlier stated, this is a race known for its quirks. For example, many racers are accustomed to fluid/hydration stations that serve water or sports drinks of some kind. While it’s not impossible to get these things at Berlin, this marathon is known for its hot tea.
It may take some time to get used to, but many racers have described it as pleasant and surprisingly refreshing.
Furthermore, racers that are used to wearing headphones while they run may want to keep them at home. The course is home to more than 80 live bands that are doing their part to entertain both the racers and spectators alike. While many other races do pretty decent stuff as far as amenities, it is simply hard to compare as to what Berlin provides in a race, thanks in large part to its sponsors, including BMW, Polar, and more.
Entering the Race
Race entry works one or two ways: the ballot system and the guaranteed starting spot system. The ballot system is akin to all of the other major marathons. The potential runner should enter all pertinent data, including their payment details. If successful, the payment method will be charged – and if it isn’t, it won’t be and the details will be deleted. This works the way in all majors. There’s also the ability to ballot as teams, as well as charity entrance options.
The guaranteed starting spot is for those who are completely sure that they’re ready for the race, though this is a bit trickier. The way it operates is through enlisting the services of a tool operator. Tour operators generally have specials that allow runners to purchase a holiday package.
This may be an option for those who are looking to see Europe. It’s also good for those who are a bit budget minded and results-based, as it guarantees a spot that allows you to pay in installments.
Chasing records is the largest draw. Known as the fastest major marathons, one could expect some lightning-fast times to be posted. The current record holder posted a blazing 2:01.39 time on the 26 mile, 385 yard (42.195km) race.
As impressive as that is, the course is home to 10 other record-breaking times, something unheard of in such a short time, especially when stacked up against other majors held around the world.
At current, the last 4 record breaking times have been posted by Kenyans, including Eliud Kipchoge – the current record holder in Berlin. This is due to the flat, well-maintained roads that are devoid of many turns. The race also takes place in September, which is nearly perfect running weather in Germany.
Records aside, the Berlin Marathon is a race unlike any other. It takes place in one of the most gorgeous cities found in Europe, giving the runners an opportunity to plod through a wide swath of it will being entertained by live music and the adulation of fans.
Whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned professional, it’s definitely a sight to behold. However, if chasing records is the goal, there may not be a better place on the planet to do it. The temperature is agreeable, the amenities are nice, and the joints on the prospective runner will be much safer than committing to any of the locales available as far as majors are concerned.