Location: Berlin, Germany
I went into the 2010 Berlin Marathon with high hopes after doing a sub 69 minute half marathon PB at the Gold Coast Marathon 12 weeks earlier. I was aiming to break 2 hours 30 mins at Berlin and had a plan to go through half way in around 74 minutes to set myself up for a good finish.
We left Hobart on my 38th birthday and arrived in Berlin four days before the race. It is a lovely city and we enjoyed seeing the sights. The expo was in the old East German airport and many goodies were to be had. The day before the marathon there was a fun run that finished inside the Olympic Stadium. Shelley ran this and I spectated, resting up for the big day. There were beer and donuts galore after the fun run but I managed to resist temptation, just as I had for the previous 6 weeks.
Race day was wet. We were staying around 2kms from the start and walked in the heavy rain to the start. I waited until the last minute to remove my poncho. I was in the A group with only the elites ahead. I was around 20 rows back and could even hear the traditional song that was sung before the start.
The first few kilometres were a bit slower than I had hoped. It only took seconds to cross the start line but there was a lot of traffic including some people in banana suits who must have jumped in from the side. I was looking to run the first half in around 3:30 per km. My first 5km was 17:54 so I was already 24 seconds off this pace. I was also around 50 metres behind the lead pack in the woman’s race so made a concerted effort to catch them as I thought they would set a nice consistent pace.
My next 5km split was 17:20 and I was feeling good although I still hadn’t managed to catch the women as they were also speeding up. I then ran a 17:05 third 5km, which in hindsight was too quick. I finally managed to catch the women at around 20km and went through half way in 73:49 which was just about perfect. Whist the time was perfect, how I was feeling wasn’t. In a marathon consistency is key and I had spent too much trying to make up for my lost time in the first 5km. By 23km I had dropped back off the women and was pretty much stuffed.
My splits got worse and worse with my pace after 30k being not much better than 5 mins per km. It was a long last part of the race and although there were plenty of nice sights to see I certainly didn’t enjoy it. Running through the Brandenburg Gate was nice, especially as it was in the last km. I managed to stagger home in 2:46:36 which was extremely disappointing. I ended up 323rd out of 34,000 finishers which is obviously okay but didn’t really cheer me up. The well earned donuts and beer managed to though.
Lessons learnt – despite a good preparation and half marathon PB heading into the marathon, on the day I focussed too much on the km splits and let that dictate my pace rather than listening to my body and relaxing into a steady pace. Trying to make up for lost time after only the first few kms, I went out too hard chasing the lead women. In hindsight, it may have been better to wait for the pack behind and settled in with them.
Berlin is one of the biggest marathons in the world for participation. The course is fast (for most people) and flat, and includes some of the major sights to see in Berlin. It crosses through both East and West Berlin and finishes through the iconic Brandenburg Gate.
It is extremely well organised, with lots of good spectating points for supporters, and the excellent public transport system allows spectators to jump on and off trains to see various stages of the race.
The after party was also held in the abandoned East German airport – with plenty more beer and donuts!
Event profile: Jarrod Shaw