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BMW Berlin Marathon 2013

Category: Road Published Date Hits: 2176

By Matthew Rose, 29 September 2013

Good morning Berlin!

I woke at 6am for an early breakfast in total darkness as my family lay in their beds enjoying a lie in after waking at 3:40am for the flight to Berlin the day before.  A bowl of porridge, a cup of coffee and banana later, at 7:15am I headed down to hotel reception to meet Paul Craddock from Trafford AC who had travelled with me.

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Runners heading to the start near the Reichstag

Our hotel was ideally located 0.9 miles away from the start; it was a lovely fresh and sunny morning and there was already a steady stream of people making their way to the start.

An 'Electric' start

Once at the start we headed straight to the baggage drop off zones, stripped and lubed before making our way towards the start line.  Paul was in start point H and I was in F, both in different directions.  We wished each other luck before heading down to the pens.  It was a long way, further than anticipated and there were thousands of runners anxious to get to their start positions… what goes on off the TV screens in them bushes I’m trying very hard to forget!  As I approached the start funnel music was being played and the Elite runners were being introduced…. the atmosphere was electric!

The race started promptly at 8:45am and I shuffled along towards the start line; it took six minutes to get there and we were just about at a jogging pace as we cross the start mat.   I could see Haile Gebrselassie and Patrick Makau and as I approached the ‘celebrity stand’ Patrick made eye contact and I leapt up and gave him a high 5.  This was it… it was all up to me now – don’t mess it up I thought!

My perfect race

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A 'sea' of runners at 7K

This is my seventh marathon and I’d never experienced anything like it…I was among a 'sea' of people and all I could do was sit in and on the rare occasion when a gap did appear, I filled it, advancing forward the best I could.  I was conscious of my family and was hoping they were out there having fun because there wasn’t a chance on earth they’d spot me here.  I looked at my watch, I was off pace by up to 15 seconds a mile… mile one, two, three – it wasn’t getting any better. 

On arriving at the first ‘fuel’ station it was chaos… I knew the format of the stations… personal drinks > water > tea > sports drink > apples > banana’s – It was bedlam with everyone leaping across to access the first cup on offer.  My fueling strategy was to take a cup of sports drink and a banana at each station so had to fight through the masses to get there.  As soon as I was clear of that, there sat the first 5K timing mat – 24:37.

I chose not to attempt to reclaim any lost time – I was enjoying the race and was still ‘stuck’.   I reached 10K in 49:12 – I’d lost a minute now but stuck with my earlier decision to continue as I was. I spotted a couple working together from Chorley AC and had a brief exchange – the Lancashire/Yorkshire banter was flowing and they advised they’d get me later in the race (they didn't!).  

The miles passed by 7mi (07:29), 8mi (07:41), 9mi (07:38), 10mi (07:51), 11mi (07:33), 12mi (07:42), 13mi (07:42), 14mi (07:34) – I was loving it and totally in control of my race.

At mile 17 gels were on offer; I don’t touch them so kept going… you could call this point ‘the sticky mile’ as it was like running on glue!

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Family support :)

I recall mile 18 – my watch chirped , displaying my pace for the last mile - my slowest: 8:01!  I kicked myself and reminded myself to stay focussed; at this stage of the race the field had started to slow and it was very easy to drift along with everybody else and lose concentration.

I’d devised a pacing strap which allowed me to see the miles and kilometre times – I was on pace by my watch but had noticed that the distance didn’t correlate with the kilometre markers on the course – I worked out I was just over two minutes behind on the course but on track with myself – confusing I know; I accepted that and kept going. 

I reached 20 miles in 2:34:13 and said to myself, this is it – you’ve done the hard bit – six miles to go!  I picked up pace and started to pick people off, weaving between them with relative ease.  As I completed mile 24 and 25 I was feeling it and had lost 5 seconds on each with 7:50 mi/miles… I was in the zone, pushing myself all the way… and how delighted I was to hear my family calling me, “go on Dad”, “go on Matthew” –  how lovely it felt; I was almost there, my spirits were lifted!

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The finish line... no!

I took the final left turn and I was on the home straight… I could see a huge inflatable and headed towards it.  I was shattered and really wanted to see the end now… was this it?  No!  Through the inflatable I could see Brandenburg Gate – I pushed hard up the small ramps, across the cobbles and under the huge arches… it still wasn’t the end…. I ran with all my might, 6:40 mi/ml, 6:28 mi/ml, I crossed the finish line.

I’d lost all sense of time for the last few miles and had no idea whether or not I’d done it. I looked at my watch, I had gone under 3:30 with a time of 3:26:23; I was delighted!

Post race reunion

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The Rose family at the Bradenburg Gate

The finish area was very well organised and offered fruit, drinks, photos, and a bag of food supplies… next up was a pint of Erdinger Alcohol Free… it was a lovely, refreshing drink and just what the doctor ordered!  I collected my bag before heading to meet my family who embraced me; it was a magical moment :)

Stepping out into the marathon village you were presented with your Urkunde (marathon certificate) and an opportunity to buy memorabilia and have medals engraved.

The winner

The winner was of course, Wilson Kipsang of Kenya - setting a new World Record of 2:03:23.  For the ladies, it was Florence Kiplagat also of Kenya in 2:21:13.

Results: http://results.scc-events.com/2013/?lang=EN

Final thoughts

My previous fastest marathon time was 3:31:33 in London 2012, today was a PB by over 5 minutes. I’d set out to achieve a pace of 7:45 mi/ml and with the extra distance covered (I recorded 26.65 miles), it was exactly that - the perfect race!

Paul Craddock From Trafford AC who accompanied me had a previous PB of 5:01 - he smashed it finishing under his 4:30 target in 4:29:57.

The Berlin Marathon was my most enjoyable marathon yet. It's a beautiful city and the race was so well organised.  It oozed quality with sponsorship from no less than BMW, Adidas, Tata etc.  I have so many great memories, great people, great food, a happy family- we all had a fantastic time.  Certainly one to consider if you're a marathon runner living the dream!

Thank you!

To all who have offered me advice, coaching, words of encouragement and support… it’s a lot of people to thank; you’ve all been brilliant!

A final special thanks to my lovely wife for all the support she gives - Love ya :)

Copyright Holmfirth Harriers Athletics Club 2012