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Berlin Marathon 2014 Race Report

Monday, September 29th, 2014

I’m going to break with tradition and keep my race report for Berlin Marathon 2014 fairly short. At a glance:

  • Kenyan Dennis Kimetto took 26 seconds off the world record. He was first Kenyan.
  • David Sawyer took exactly six minutes off his PB from the Virgin London Marathon earlier this year, clocking 2:43:48. He was first Scot!
Berlin Marathon 2014 finisher's medal.

My favourite medal.

*Switches to first person*

  • I ran fairly even splits (between 19:10 and 19:43) per 5k.
  • I came 254th out of 41,000 runners.
  • I achieved my goal of sub-2:45.
  • And most importantly I am now the exceedingly proud owner of a championship place for the Virgin London Marathon 2015. I will start with the elite runners, a couple of rows behind Mo et al.


Memories of the Berlin Marathon 2014

  • Perfect conditions, if a little sunny. But no wind, low teens temperature. All good.
  • Plastic cups are a nightmare. Imagine you are running a 19:30 parkrun for 26 miles, while periodically drinking from the sort of cups you get from a water cooler. As my body increasingly craved fuel post-30k I took George Taylor’s advice and stopped to gulp down cups of isotonic drinks at 30 and 36k. The 20-second hits to my finishing time were well worth it: I then knew I wasn’t going to go “Unga Bunga, Out of Juice” and hit the deck, Captain Caveman style.
  • The Berlin Marathon 2014 is big on bands, and, seemingly, irony. Knocking on Heaven’s Door and Highway to Hell were particular favourites.
  • Running at 6:14 per mile in a marathon is a whole lot different from running at 6:29 per mile. I tried to consciously get rid of the grimace at the start but from 3k onwards it was pretty much a permanent feature.
  • Planning is everything. Pre-marathon OCD is compulsory. It meant I got to the start line relaxed. A 2:45 mile split pace band on one wrist; a 2:45 5k split pace band on the other. The former to tie in with my Garmin, set for mile splits as that’s what I’m used to. The latter to check my real-time progress. Unfortunately, on 55 minutes the GPS on my Garmin stopped working and with that my race strategy of keeping the average pace on my Garmin at 6:14 (to allow for deviation from the racing line) went out of the window. This knocked me for six. It took me a few k to realise that if I set the Garmin to timer mode and went off my five k splits pace band I’d know where I was (albeit having started in Block B I probably had at least another 10 secs to play with). It helped that the race started at 8.45am exactly. It helped also that I’d already got chatting to two English runners both going for sub-2:45. Indebted to Nigel Rogerson here who read out a fair few split times to me pre-halfway.
2:45 pace band for Berlin Marathon 2014.

My 2:45 5k split pace band for Berlin Marathon 2014.

  • I ran on my own from 14 to 23 miles, where I was joined again by a chirpy Nigel. Again, I owe him one. 38k onwards was the toughest running of my life and keeping Nigel no further than 20 yards in front gave me something to cling on to. I also knew, through a snatched conversation, that he was on for a high 2:43 at 38k. He was finishing strong. So hanging on to his coat tails gave my mind-wandering, cramps-threatening carcass something on which to focus. Cheers Nigel.
  • The Berlin Marathon is not quite as stellar as London. The support is so amazing at the VLM that you get carried along on a wave of euphoria. I’m no expert having only done each once but London definitely wins for me. The five minutes you gain for the flatness in Berlin are counterbalanced by the five-minute euphoria element at London.

So, I had a brilliant weekend from start to finish. Much like the Kumars at London, the Maguires (brother and sister in law) did me proud on the hospitality front. And yesterday was “awesome”. A slap up meal at Lutter & Wegner sandwiched between two cocktails at The Ritz. Laaardeedaaa. Then back home for crisps and lovely South African red wine plus Inbetweeners The Movie. You can’t say fairer than that.

Brilliantly, my training partner, Jason Steele, got his first sub-3. Regular readers of this blog will know how significant this is after two misses (one near, one not) this year. So pleased for him, and Elle and the kids:0). Cracking run and lots more to come now that sub-3’s in the bag.

Jason Steele Berlin Marathon 2014.

Jason Steele poses pre-race.

Ritz David Sawyer Berlin Marathon 2014.

Living it up post-race at The Ritz.

What’s next? Two full weeks off running plus lots of nice food and drink. It’s good to have an additional passion in life: you feel more vital. But without Rach and the kids to return to today, it wouldn’t mean anything, if you know what I mean. Really looking forward to some big hugs.


P.S. Lots of other great runs by marathoners I know yesterday. But the standout performance was my good friend Scott Bradley rolling back the years with a 2:35 at the Loch Ness Marathon. Brilliant performance.