Berlin :- A marathon in a city like Berlin cannot be anything but “legendary. It holds a special place among runners for being the ‘fastest course. Ashish Agrawal a City lawyer, who participated in this year’s edition, wrote, “the combination of a flat, fast course, a pack of top-flight pacers and ideal autumn weather has ensured that the event is now regarded as the undisputed WR marathon race. Its claim to fame cemented by the fact that the last six successive world records for the distance, for men, have been set on the course”
I reached Berlin on the Thursday, September 22 and the city was already warming up for the marathon weekend. The pre-marathon event expo was held at the now-defunct Tempelhof airport, one of the oldest airports in the world. The vast airport suddenly looked small when filled with runners waiting to collect their race numbers. The added attraction in shopping, largely related to running, from fancy clothing to accessories and nutritional products, represented a running festival.
Getting 44,000 runners to run through the streets was no easy task. Runners were grouped in four categories and the start times ranged from 9:10 am for the elites to 10:10 am for the back-of-the-pack, where I duly took my place. What was surprising though, was the unflinching support from the volunteers who didn’t move from their positions, until the last one went past them. The equally admirable crowd didn’t relent either and cheerfully supported the runners through the route. Lively music bands were stationed across the route playing vibrant music. The marathon route goes through some of the landmarks of Berlin including the Victory Column, German Chancellery, The Friedrichstadt-Palast, prominent art galleries and museums, Bundestrat, and finally, the Brandenburg Gate appearing between 41 and 42 Km points. Running through the Gate (Built in the 18th century to commemorate peace, it was closed for 28 years following the division of Germany), was something that I have been dreaming about ever since I won the lottery to participate, and the last kilometre was certainly my fastest!
A euphoric finish was rewarded by a wonderfully designed medal — one side featuring the important landmarks of Berlin and the other side the a relatively unknown Eluid Kipchoge. Eluid Kipchoge is the fasted Marathoner in World setting record of 2.01 hours here itself in Berlin. It was a tribute to him. That evening, there were the finishers in the City proudly sporting their finisher tees and medals all the way to their way — the Berlin legends!