|December 6, 2017||Filed under Berlin, Germany|
Heavy thoughts weighed on my mind as I approached the start of the 44th Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2017. Compounding my usual pre-race jitters were the gravity of the city’s tumultuous history and the morning’s stormy weather. From the Potsdamer Platz U station, participants had to walk some 20 minutes to the staging area near the Reichstag (Parliament) building, passing graffitied chunks of the Berlin Wall, the haunting Holocaust Memorial, and the iconic Brandenburg Gate through which racers would later run to the finish. (I always pictured Berlin in black and white, undoubtedly influenced by many World War II images and the classic 1987 film “Wings of Desire” – are angels still watching over Berlin?)
Rallied by bright videos and pumping music, I couldn’t help but join the 43,000+ drenched runners and got into the spirit for the 42.1 km (26.2 miles) run. Considered one of the fastest marathon courses in the world, it was highly anticipated that another world record would be set. Alas, it didn’t turn out that way, but Eliud Kipchoge won at an incredible time of 2:03:32 (that’s 4:47 minute per mile!). For me, not having run a full marathon since the New York City Marathon in 2013, completion within the 6-hour limit was my only goal.
A shout out to “A” for standing in the rain to cheer me on along the course – now that’s a good friend! For anyone who has run a footrace of any distance, crowd support definitely helps especially a greeting from a familiar face. Berlin’s course featured lively neighborhood crowds, various bands ranging from folk to punk, and pounding drum corps. With runners from 137 countries, shouts of encouragement in German, English, Chinese, Spanish and other languages were heard along the way. (more…)