I’ve been very fortunate to race in a lot of iconic events over the years. However, none of those include any of the six World Marathon Majors. After a brief panic of thinking how I would get ready for a marathon in 4 weeks, I swiftly accepted an invitation from Nike to run the BMW Berlin Marathon 2023. Not only would I be racing one of the greatest running events, I’d be there to celebrate 20 years of Nike and Eliud Kipchoge.
Touchdown in Berlin
After arriving at the hotel, I set off on a short run to pick up my bib number. Now this was no ordinary experience, as the Berlin Marathon expo was located at the decommissioned airfield, Flughafen Tempelhof. It’s hard to put into words the scale of the structure and the emotions that were evoked from being there. While an impending race normally consumes every second thought in the hours before the final sleep, I found myself completely detached from the race. Instead, I was feeling extremely grateful for being in the position to enjoy the moment.
From there, I made my way back to Nike’s Home of Running that had been set-up for the event weekend. My mind inevitably turned back to the race, particularly as I had to decide how much pasta I was going to consume - a careful balancing act. After being given some very nice Nike kit, I set about getting my last substantial intake of simple carbohydrates. Then remembering Eliud Kipchoge’s message, “It’s all about running a beautiful race on Sunday.”, I headed off to the hotel to get some sleep.
Race morning. Pancakes, some bread, a banana, and a coffee to start. They were blueberry pancakes if you’re looking for the details. Then it was a short jog to the event site. However, I couldn’t not stop and take a picture of the Berlin Victory Column as I made my way through the Tiergarten. Once I’d dropped my kit bag and made my final toilet stop, I headed to the start line. With nearly 48,000 runners competing, it’s safe to say it was absolutely mobbed. While everyone was there for their own reason, you could sense an underlying current of anticipation to step on the start line with the greatest marathon runner of all time - and be a part of the experience.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve raced a lot over the years. On a few occasions, when the pressure has been on and the race has meant a lot, I’ve had goosebumps at the start. I’d like to add that this has happened in 30° heat, so it was not a result of cool air. I was in no shape to run a personal best at Berlin, but when Kipchoge was announced on the start line, I experienced the rare pre-race goosebumps once again. The noise and atmosphere was simply electrifying and unlike anything I have ever experienced.
The Berlin marathon course was spectacular. Every inch of the road was lined with spectators. Additionally, I’ve never heard so much music from live bands in a race. It made the miles go by a lot faster. As the flat and fast course loops around a lot of the city, there’s plenty of opportunity to take in the incredible architecture. Although, nothing could quite compare with the sight of the Brandenburg Gate as I turned the final corner of the course. Heading under the Gate, I was pleased I’d managed to hold a very consistent pace for the distance - crossing the line with a chip time of 2:43:48.
After a fellow competitor took a customary post race picture for me, I checked the final results. Whilst the women’s world record was sensational, seeing Kipchoge become the first man to win a historic 5th Berlin Marathon title definitely put a smile on my face.
Whilst Kipchoge inspires runners all over the world, there must be a burning passion within him to perform to his best. Kipchoge’s belief in his ability to achieve new heights must be second to none. Or as he puts it, “No human is limited.”. With this, there’s surely an immense pressure to deliver results. His relentless pursuit of excellence and ability to perform in the way he does is nothing but inspirational. Kipchoge’s win at Berlin Marathon will be an important part of the journey to Paris 2024.
Finally, if you’re thinking about running the Berlin Marathon, you won’t regret it. It’s a race you’ll never forget.
Stats and kit
If you’re interested, here’s some more data from my marathon:
- Chip time: 2:43:48
- Garmin distance: 42.53 km
- Garmin average pace: 3:51 min/km
- Race nutrition: Maurten GEL 100 x 6 + Maurten GEL 100 CAFF x 2
- Nutrition timing: consumed one gel every 20 minutes (started 18 minutes into race)
- Total carbohydrates: 200 grams
- Shoes: Nike Vaporfly 3
- Vest: Nike Men’s Dri-FIT ADV Techknit Ultra Running Tank
- Shorts: Nike Dri-FIT ADV Run Division 10 cm Brief Lined
- Socks: Feetures Unisex Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew