10 Things About the Berlin Half Marathon
1. Elites and Blaggers
We had the fortune to meet Seán Hehir at Dublin airport, what a nice guy. When we arrived in Berlin we entered the arrivals hall where Heiko from the race organisation was waiting to transport Sean to his hotel. Sean kindly asked if we could hitch a lift to our AirBnB. Heiko said it was no problem as he was going to Mitte to meet his girlfriend anyway. Blagging works. Nice Peugeot SW to transport us to the door. Heiko asked which one of the three of us was the fastest. I took this as a compliment.
Conor and I had booked an AirBnB in Mitte (think C4 in Cork or D4 in Dublin). Lovely new IKEA'd apartment with tall ceilings, white walls and a lovely balcony, perfect for having breakfast in the sun. Berlin is nice. I could live here, hipsters everywhere.
We got the U-bahn down to the Expo on Saturday evening. Not being a fan of public transport in general I just followed Conor. I could be converted. It kind of works in Germany. I haven't seen any strikes.
The Expo was pretty much the same as the full marathon expo lots of randomness that you'd never buy anywhere else. There was was,one good stall where they were selling Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia t-shirts for €5, I bought three. I don't know why but you feel obliged to spend money at these things, it's sort of like the ploughing match for farmers, where they just have to buy that independent suspension trailer despite having one already. I then found the massage tent where they were offering 20 minutes of massage for €15. I told Conor I'd only be 20 minutes. 50 minutes later (Conor says it was more like an hour) I emerged fully refreshed, slight calf niggle sorted. I just kept talking to the masseuse and he kept working. Blagging works.
5. Donie Walsh and Salazar
We spent the evening before the race with a beer watching YouTube videos of Donie Walsh at the Munich Olympics and Alberto Salazar's duel in the sun. Inspirational stuff. I'm sure this has never been done before. The beer normally helps avoid the cursed broken sleep.
6. Warm Up
The AirBnB was about 3 miles from the start, perfect warm up. I woke at 730 after a broken sleep. Broken sleep is an awful curse, I'd hate to be old. On the jog down to the start we met this really serious German runner, I tried to start a conversation but he was having none of it, very angry man. At the first junction he deliberately went the wrong direct just to avoid us. God am I that annoying. I mean I didn't even get a chance to go on a rant about doping.
7. Shaved Legs
The start was a mix of Ballycotton and Berlin Marathon, they had an A pen, but this was anything up to 1:30, it was pretty packed. The one main difference between Ballycotton and the Berlin Half is shaved legs. 90% of the men had shaved legs. There were a lot of hairy backs, a hairy back (very hairy) and shaved legs makes no sense.
The start of the race is the exact same as Ballycotton, the local (whatever the Berlin equivalent of a GAA player is, decides that the best way to break his 1:35 Half Marathon PB is to run the opening mile in 5:20. A complete caramboulage. Didn't think the Germans would do chaos, considering that when you J walk all you hear is entschuldigung. Anyway it eventually thins out after about 2 km.
The course is pretty perfect, flatter than the farm. First 9 km is arrow straight, there was a subtle breeze but by Irish standards it was still. I ran well enough but the wheels came off towards the finish. The angry German from the warm up passed me at 20km, I really wanted to catch up and crush him but try as I might I couldn't, the tank was empty. Conor ran a fantastic PB for the half marathon, he will have to stop improving, it's very unfair.
10. Medical Tent/Sauna
I ended up in the medical tent or sauna after the race. I did a wobbler at the finish line, the normal XC thing although a bit more. I thought they'd have known that the worst thing you could do with an Irish man after a warm race is to heat him up even more by putting him in a tent. Anyway I recovered quickly, chatting away to the German girl who had the misfortune of treating me. I think she thought I was trying to chat her up, her supervisor wasn't very impressed. Apparently they're not supposed to talk to us in Germany, I told her it was normal in Ireland, she liked that.