It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Charles Dickens was not thinking of running your first 25k when he wrote those words, but how true they were on Sunday. The better half had housemaids knee (*), I had a stinking cold picked up from the Plague Pit which is my office upon returning from the Hamburg Mara and so we were both feeling rubbish and were up to the eyeballs in OTC medication.
Thus the decision was made to take it easy (**) and go round together. Of course we could have pulled out but we had paid for the entry, dammit! It’s not as if we were Paul Tergat(***) or anything.
As ever with big German races, full marks (sorry Euros) for organisation. I did not have to queue to go to the toilet !!!!!
Start and finish at the Olympic Stadium – which is kind of unlovely, but has a very bouncy blue track to finish on.
Also, it was where the German longjumper Lutz (sp?) Long (who was in first place at the time) exhibited great sportsmanship (we assume he wasn’t just one of those people who can’t stop themselves from telling other people how to do things, even when they really should shut up) by telling Jesse Owens that he really was jumping quite far enough to be able to take off an inch or two further back and thus not foul. Jesse Owens promptly won gold, Herr Long had to be content with silver, a filthy look from Hitler and a posthumous Coubertin medal for being a good sport. Not sure Leni R. put that in her movie.
The course started with a worryingly long downhill. Worrying, because it finished where it started…you do the math. Support was sparse but cheery, but a big shout-out to all the samba schools – five I think – who turned out.
The race was started by the French – crazy people, crazy distance! – and (including the 10k and 5x5k relay) is v. popular amongst Berlin’s diplomats (passes by a lot of the embassies, which is handy). The Indonesians (a well known sporting nation…!) put in two relay teams – very keen there ! Apparently 45 nationalities were represented. Very little sign of any of them en route though, so I imagine they were all doing faster than 11 minute miles (I did mention the housemaid’s knee, but not that he’d never gone over 1/2 marathon before and that it was rather warm…).
Although support is thin on the ground, the course is an ideal sightseeing tour of Berlin, so as a pleasant Sunday womble with a medal at the end it’s hard to beat. However, despite the gels I cruelly forced down him (“yuk!”), the other half was getting really very tired in his Marmite vest (we were flying the flag for Britain and a life beyond currywurst & toasted cheese) and we were very glad to see the stadium again, which, bewilderingly, did not seem to be at the end of a long uphill. I think someone at the Max Planck Institute has been doing something naughty with gravity… Anyhow, at last there were cheering crowds – well, clumps, anyway.
As in the Reading Half, once you catch sight of the stadium you have more-than-you-think to go (a detour round Jesse Owens Allee). But to make up for it, someone had set up a mobile disco complete with flashing lights (no, really) in the tunnel going through to the stadium! Bless them and their dodgy taste in pop music!
A friend had come out to see us finish so we put on a finishing sprint (despite this we managed both a PB (first 25k race ever) and PW (slowest pace in any race ever)) and squeaked over the line just under 2:50, but going at 8:15 pace which is almost certainly as fast as the OH has ever gone in a race!
Yet again (om nom nom) there was beer at the end (though you only got it after drinking two cups of warm sweet black tea hoping they were beer) and we even got receipts when we handed in our hired chips!
So – Berlin 25k – a nice day out. But if you want screaming crowds, try the marathon instead!
(*) Imagine that a man has had a saline breast implant. On top of his kneecap. That pretty much describes it…
(**) aka stop at almost every toilet en route and religiously hi-5 every small child who had bothered to get out of bed to support us.
(***) who was due to run it, but fell over and b0rked something or other, so instead he started the race and then did the kiddie run.