Race: Berlin Marathon

Runner: Matt Urbanski

Race Date: 09/16/2018

Location: Berlin, Germany

Results: 2:42:46; 394th place

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1845651678

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

This course is fast and the weather was perfect! The race is one of the deepest fields I’ve ever run. The world record was broken during this race and there’s something cool feeling about running in the race where Eliud Kipchoge smashed the record.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I wasn’t super marathon prepared (training for summer ultras), but that’s not on the race, that’s on me!

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The bibs! They printed them out when you did packet pickup. This was efficient b/c you could go to any of the many volunteers. But they printed the big on an 8×10 sized sheet and that was the bib – it was huge!

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

  • I felt strong for almost the entire race and I worked hard for it. It was the kind of race where I managed my effort well early, got in the zone and was grinding it during the tough middle 1/3rd of the race, and then my lack of marathon training showed up the final 4 miles, but I still held it together for a finish that I’m happy with.
  • I really loved how there were people to run with the entire time. I settled in with a good group for much of the race. It was clear they were focused on running an even race and it was easy to always be working with someone or tucked in behind someone.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • This is the flattest race I’ve done, so be ready for flat.
  • The streets are wide but there are also a ton of runners (~45k) so be ready for a crowd the entire way.
  • It’s still a marathon so avoid getting too into race mode too early in the race b/c it’ll catch up with you.
  • Take public transit to the start.
  • There were plenty of bathrooms and it was easy to get to the start corals.
  • Have fun – there are so many awesome runners from all over the world here; take a deep breath and soak it all in.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Drink a little more. The aid stations felt like they were more spaced out than some of the bigger races I’ve done in the past and even where I was in the race in the top few hundred racers, it felt like a high traffic, competitive sport to get water. I actually skipped quite a few of them to avoid the hassle and I think I would have benefited from more. I probably would have taken in a few more calories too if I’d been drinking more. Just be ready for the crowds while still balancing your hydration and nutrition needs.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Totally flat!
  • There is a blue line painted on the street that I assumed represented the shortest route possible. However, despite making a big effort to stay close to this, I still finished with 26.4 miles. Do your best to be as close to 26.2 as you can!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Both years I’ve been in Berlin for the marathon the weather has been gorgeous. It’s a big city, so if you find that pretty, and you like nice autumn weather, it’s fantastic!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

A flat road marathon can be tough in it’s own way. Be ready for a total rhythm race where you run with the same motion for 26.2 miles. No hills or trail to mix it up for your body.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

The best. Sign up, the expo, race day, it was all run well.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

2:01 won the race! The best in the world!

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

  • There is a lottery. The charity spots aren’t unreasonable prices if you don’t get in via the lottery. There is an automatic entry qualifying time as well. Be on it for when registration is open and it’s easy.
  • We didn’t book our airbnb until last minute. However, we found a good place that wasn’t too much. The pickings were minimal though by waiting to the last minute.
  • Race bib was good for free train access in the city all day on race day. Really nice b/c I didn’t have to carry anything with me to the start.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Not as many as Boston – at least that’s how it felt. Water, sports drink, some fruit, and maybe one or two options for getting gels.

Weather and typical race conditions

50s and 60s. Clear skies. It was gorgeous!

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Carried 4 gels. Nothing else besides shorts and shoes.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Really strong. There were people on nearly the entire course.

How’s the Swag?

The medal had Eliud Kipchoge’s face on it! Something about that just seemed cool to me, particularly b/c the medals were already made prior to the race, and yet he still won and set the world record. Shirts and other swag available for purchase, but none came with the race entry.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

Loved it! 5 out of 5. If you like road marathons or big world running events, this one should definitely be on your list!

berlin marathon race report
Awesome to be in a race where the world record was broken!