Overall Rating
Overall Rating (28 Reviews)
4
(28 Ratings)(28 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.6
SCENERY
3.8
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.1
The fact that the past six men’s marathon world records (most recently in 2014) were all set in Berlin speaks to the course’s fast and flat profile. As the first of three World Marathon Majors series races staged in the fall, Berlin typically offers perfect running weather on a course … MORE
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    Profile photo of Andrew MacDonald
    Amac1167 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Expo = not the most organized initially, but goes smooth once you get through the initial check-in part. The bibs are legit a giant piece of paper that gets printed … MORE

    Expo = not the most organized initially, but goes smooth once you get through the initial check-in part. The bibs are legit a giant piece of paper that gets printed in front of you so bib pickup is pretty easy. You have to go to a separate area to get your shirt and that can be a bit of a hassle. The Adidas merch area runs out super quickly so get there early as possible.

    The afternoon before the marathon, make sure you get to a spot on the marathon course so you can watch the inline skating marathon. It’s super cool to watch those folks rip by at breakneck speeds on the course you’ll be running the day before.

    Pre-Race staging area = get there early, use the bathroom, then get right back in line to go again before you line up. Or just keep walking around until you find a trove of hidden toilets. Waited in line for 45 minutes upon getting there only to find out there was a whole other section with no one waiting.

    Race = do you like drums? Yeah? Good cause there are a ton of bands out and about along the course. Tons of drum bands, school bands, bandy bands. Certainly helps push you along the course.

    Scenery = you’re in the middle of a city so don’t expect too much. You’ve got some street art and the Tiergarten but that’s about it.

    Course = pancake flat. Only issue is the constant moving from 2 lanes (or both sides of road) down to 1 which creates a huge bottle neck.

    Enter the lottery for this race, go get your WMM star, and eat some currywurst.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    DocRob FIRST-TIMER '19

    Nice course, too many runners. The course never opened up for me. I spent the entire race fighting for my spot. Terrain, what terrain, entirely flat. This race, just is … MORE

    Nice course, too many runners. The course never opened up for me. I spent the entire race fighting for my spot. Terrain, what terrain, entirely flat. This race, just is too big. I ran it to just check off a majors. There is nothing here to bring me back to run. It again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    3

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    I was so looking forward to running the "world's fastest" marathon that my expectations were maybe a bit too high. First, the pre-race area sorely lacked porta potties as line … MORE

    I was so looking forward to running the “world’s fastest” marathon that my expectations were maybe a bit too high.
    First, the pre-race area sorely lacked porta potties as line lengths extended more than an hour, and I witnessed two women nearly come to blows over one I had just departed. The lack of facilities on this cool, rainy morning led to some people, including women, going in public and causing others to actually miss their corral start time. It was pretty much a joke. The porta potties were an abomination inside (I will not paint a picture with words) and lacked even rudimentary follow-up materials (ie. TP).
    As for the race itself, I would suggest fudging a bit on your time and starting in a corral faster than your anticipated finish. I started in the last corral, knowing months ago I could not put in the training I would have liked, and paid dearly for it. Although the course is flat and very fast, it was beyond super crowded. I spent more time and energy running sideways in an effort to work my way through the crowd than I did running forward. I also was forced to nearly walk the first kilometer due to congestion and the proliferation of selfies. Steady rain throughout much of race also slowed the slower runners. It was exhausting and difficult to work one’s way through the mass of humanity running in this race!
    Even further, many starting in the last corral were running their first marathon and apparently were not aware that aid stations extended beyond the first person handing out water or snacks causing massive jam-ups early in the race.
    The race was so crowded it was difficult to even take full strides at times, and the congestion never really cleared. The streets were not as narrow as many other races I have run, but as an indication of how the crowd size, my fastest 2K was from 40-42 kilometers when the avenue finally widened.
    As for the aid stations, there were more than enough, with bananas, beer, Red Bull and gels available at various points throughout the race. Although the Red Bull stop did cause some problems as the product was served in biodegradable cups. Rain, crowded streets, tired runners and paper cups turned to mush make for some hazardous conditions.
    I also appreciate Berlin race officials for trying to become more eco-friendly. The plastic cups put into play were at least an attempt to change the status quo as was the try at recycling. It might not have worked perfectly, but something does need to change when it comes to the waste generated by these massive events.
    The crowd support was awesome considering the weather, and running through the Brandenburg Gate was pretty cool. However, because of the destruction brought on by the war, Berlin is a fairly new city and there is not really a great deal of cool architecture or many historic sites to see along the course.
    I don’t run for medals or swag, but each runner was provided with a bag of water and snacks afterward making the transition from running to finishing up pretty smooth. Ponchos also were provided, a welcome sight due to continued rain and cool temps. The expo also was well-organized.
    This was my third international marathon and my sixth overall. How easy was the course? I really didn’t feel stiff or sore after; in fact, I continued my European vacation to Prague and walked nearly 20 miles over the next three days without pain and suffering.
    I would recommend Berlin, and it is a great race for those attempting a PR (even though I ran by far my worst time ever). Fudge on your finish time, get to the corral early and work your way to the front, take care of personal business in the porta potties along the start area and don’t be afraid to push your pace.
    Although I didn’t enjoy Berlin all that much as I vacation spot (I do credit the people of the city for owning its role in the Holocaust and the pervasive guilt is palpable), there is still something about being able to run in Europe that is special.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
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    4
    SCENERY
    3
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    3

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    basserker FIRST-TIMER '19

    Not going to find too many races better in terms of size, crowd attendance, and race production than a World Major Marathon. Add in a flat course and perfect weather/temps, … MORE

    Not going to find too many races better in terms of size, crowd attendance, and race production than a World Major Marathon. Add in a flat course and perfect weather/temps, and you’ve got the Berlin Marathon.

    Overall, really great course and a fun event. Being my first International Marathon I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Everything was mostly the same, except for some of the water stations serving hot tea, and a beet juice sport drink. Different, but not bad.

    Some of the drawbacks I found were just with other runners, and maybe a cultural difference being in Europe. I was elbowed numerous times (has happened before), but the worst of it came with being force-ably shoved in the back once, and having someone clip the soles of my feet twice while running the race. Again, this might just be a European thing and not the Berlin Marathon’s fault, but major drawbacks and made me feel uncomfortable during the race.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '19

    Berlin Marathon was my 66th marathon and 6th World Marathon Major. It wasn't on purpose that I finished there, but it was fitting. It's not where many people want to … MORE

    Berlin Marathon was my 66th marathon and 6th World Marathon Major. It wasn’t on purpose that I finished there, but it was fitting. It’s not where many people want to finish the journey, for whatever reason; London and Boston seem to get the most majors finishers. However, Berlin was special. It’s a fast course (though not a PR for this slightly undertrained runner), it’s iconic, and it has what I think might be the coolest finish line of all the majors: the Brandenburg Gate. More on that in a moment.

    To preface this, I went with Marathon Tours and Travels and stayed at the Berlin Marriott. It’s a fantastic hotel, walking distance to the start/finish, and easy Uber/cab/train distance to other sights and the expo. We had periods of blue skies and nice weather combined with showers and sprinkles and downpours the five days I was in Berlin. Great temperatures though. It was nice to be close to the action and able to walk to so much – thankfully the rain cooperated and never prevented sightseeing or even walking to the start or standing in the corrals.

    The expo is big, as you can imagine. It’s at an old airport a few miles from where I was staying. I listened to the advice of previous runners and the marathon organizers themselves and went Thursday afternoon, right after I dropped my bags at the hotel. It was busy, but not stupid busy, and I didn’t have to wait to get my bib/chip, nor did I wait more than a few moments to pay for the souvenirs I purchased. I pre-ordered my shirts and jacket and that line also went very quickly. I’d say the only bad thing about the expo is that it’s kind of cramped, and when it gets REALLY busy, like on a Friday or God forbid, Saturday, it’s really tough to look at shirts, pay for things, or even just walk around because people are EVERYWHERE. Thankfully I got in and out of there pretty quickly after collecting my items and getting the six-star finisher sticker on my bib from the Abbott booth. A quick Uber ride got me back to my hotel.

    I won’t talk about all the sights there are to see in Berlin, but do take at least a day to go see some of the iconic WWII locations and memorials, not to mention the Berlin Wall exhibits and other historic areas. Lots to see and do.

    Additionally, as a six-star hopeful, there was a reception at the Hall of Fame at the Brandenburg Gate Friday night. I almost didn’t go to this, but it was so worth it. In addition to the free beer, they also gave the few attendees that showed up a pair of awesome WMM compression socks (my new favs), and you got to stand in the area where the elites came through to be interviewed. I got my picture taken with Joan Benoit Samuelson which was incredible, and just had a nice time talking with some of the six star runners from around the world. It was a very nice perk, and the evening ended up being beautiful and clear. Perfect!

    Race morning is relatively leisurely. I was in Corral E/Wave 2 and had a start time of 9:25am, which let me sleep a full night, have my coffee, and mosey to the starting area on foot without any rush. I got to the corrals around 8ish, no lines for portajohns at that point! There were big screens set up in the corrals so you could see the videos they were playing of Kipchoge’s world record run last year and other live streams from the announcer on stage. We saw the starts of the other corrals before moving up for our own. There was no rain yet and actually the morning was quite beautiful and clear for our sendoff!

    Once the gun goes off, it’s time to focus. It is a crowded field, regardless of where you are I assume (unless you’re in A!). While I didn’t ever feel like I was weaving and dodging too much, I know some people really complained about elbows flying and getting cut off. I found it about average for a major. My only complaint would be I wish they continued to have water/aid stations on both sides of the road and that they wouldn’t use plastic cups. They are a bit dangerous and loud, and hard to drink from and no one seemed to care about at least trying to get them into the bins. The race also tried to use silicon reusable cups at one of the last aid stations that they specifically said had to be thrown into a special bin so that they could be recycled. That seemed to be a major fail – those were everywhere BUT in the bins. Another note on the aid stations – at one point I decided to be daring and take one of the cups of tea – it was delicious! Not a fan of the beet drink though.

    The course is very flat; it’s a city race and runs through the typical cityscape, but there are iconic views along the way. In my opinion though, nothing in the other majors compares to seeing the Brandenburg Gate towards the end of the race. By the time I got there, I was soaking wet (though not freezing – the rain really did feel good), I was ready to be done, and there it was: the chariot and the horses and this conquering angel welcoming me to the finish. It was the most beautiful sight!

    The finish chute is like most others – a long trek to get a medal, a wrap, a goodie bag, etc. I was one of the relative few who also went to the Abbott tent and got my six star finishers medal which was truly amazing. I got my Berlin poncho next which was a nice thing to have in the cool rain. And then I departed, making sure to snap a photo of the gate and my majors medal before leaving the finish area. Note to the race – the way they have spectators crossing towards the end is amazing. I wasn’t sure how I would cross the finish area to get going toward my hotel on foot but they have it set up to shuttle people across without getting tangled in runners going toward the finish line.

    Bottom line is that this is a world marathon major in a big city. It’s 44,000 of your closest friends running through sometimes narrow streets. I thought it was well organized and I have no true complaints. Honestly it was a great experience and because it was #6 it will forever hold a very special place in my heart amongst all of the majors. I’ll never forget the Brandenburg Gate or how I felt when I crossed that finish line and received those medals. The city of Berlin came out and supported runners in rain and wind and cool temperatures and that is special. Thank you, Berlin! Ich bin ein Berliner!

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    cassidymegan3 FIRST-TIMER '18

    It simply was not a good day for me. If I can pass on any information to my fellow US runners it would be this: there is no Gatorade, Powerade … MORE

    It simply was not a good day for me.
    If I can pass on any information to my fellow US runners it would be this: there is no Gatorade, Powerade (which they have here and in France), Lucozade Sport drink (they have that in Ireland), Cytomax (which is not my favorite), on the course. There is beet juice and hot tea. There is plenty of water at the station, but the volume of people running the race make it impossible to keep the roads clear and since the cups were plastic, they did not crush well. A guy brushed against me just enough to knock me off my balance and I slipped at the 17K mark: I lost my mojo after that.
    I always carry salt tablets, but I went to grab an energy gel from my belt and I dropped my salt pills around the half-way point.
    It was warm that morning and only got hotter as we were running on blacktop. I trained so hard in Central FL all summer with BQ dreams in my sight, but I was cramping up so bad and I could feel the salt that I was losing on my face.
    Another thing that I would point out: The first arch after your watch hits mile 26 is not the finish line…and it’s not the Brandenburg Gate… and it’s not the red one after that. I think I went through 5 inflatable arches before I finally crossed the finish line and I was at a full-out sprint for ½mile because I thought that I was almost there….but you know what? I freakin’ ran the Berlin Marathon! That is awesome.
    •PROS•
    º The course was gorgeous! Architecture, history, tree-lined streets. Beautiful
    º The race was HUGE! I love big races and I know that this was an Abbott World Marathon Major, but it was still just so awesome! (and, no – I haven’t run NYC yet.)
    º The expo was huge. Lots of vendors – big and small.
    º There were plenty of portable toilets and portable urinals which I thought was awesome.
    º Train transportation was free to runners as long as they were wearing their bibs.
    º Everything about the event was extremely well-organized as expected.
    º Communication with the team was great. I had several questions about the event since I was running through a charity partner and got better response from the actual marathon than the charity.
    º The post-race area and nutrition was great. A nice, open park. Free beer (if you chose), free massages (if you chose and were willing to wait). I think that we got fruit, water, maybe some snack bar.
    º The race directors have no control over the weather so I can;t blame them for the heat, I can give the Fire Departments “props” for hosing us down (they took the hoses up on the ladder and let it rain down on us – that was so nice.)
    •CONS• (These may all be non-elite,”American” things to gripe about but:)
    º If you wanted a shirt, you had to buy it. I think that it cost €30 or €35 at the expo
    º The medal was not substantial. It felt lightweight and of poor quality. (But – again – it’s from the Berlin Marathon, so who cares?)
    º No electrolytes on course except for some super-sticky Gu-type something that they gave to us at the half-way point.
    º (Be warned this will gross you out, but I survive to tell the tale) They gave us reusable, collapsible, silicone cups at the expo to use along the course for water as they try to move toward being a no-cup race. I used this thing and it wasn’t until I saw the first series of spigots with free-flowing water before I realized that the troughs in which I had been dunking my cup was actually for people to dip their sponges in. :p Oh well – it may have been the only salt that I ingested along the course after I dropped my pills into the sea of people around me.

    All-in-all, me and my giant race bib had an interesting race day experience. I fell well short of my goal for the day but at the end of the day: I was in Berlin. I was in another country. I had just run one of the World Marathon Majors. I had participated in a race where the guy who won broke the world record – and his face was on our medal, too. If I went with the expectation of just finishing the marathon, I probably would have taken the time to really enjoy the scenery, the architecture, and allow myself to submerge myself into the experience. Would I go back? Yeah- probably – but I have other races to make off my list first.
    Happy Running!

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    M_Sohaskey Feb 22, 2019 at 6:27pm

    I laughed, I cried (or maybe winced a couple of times), it was better than "Cats"... now that's a memorable run, Megan! Mmm, yummy sponge water... you can't make this… MORE

    I laughed, I cried (or maybe winced a couple of times), it was better than "Cats"... now that's a memorable run, Megan! Mmm, yummy sponge water... you can't make this stuff up. Sounds like Berlin has added a few post-mile 26 arches since I ran in 2014; I only remember Brandenburg and the finish, but then again I was wobbling badly and just trying to hang on at that point, so may have missed a few things. And glad they had alcoholic beer this year — I was shocked to finish Germany's largest marathon, only to discover they were serving near beer. And yes, the plastic cups bouncing underfoot were a dangerous distraction. I'm sorry you weren't able to take home a BQ, but I'm glad you were able to maintain your sense of humor and enjoy the race, since Berlin really is an amazing city. And even though it's a bit smaller than NYC, it felt much more crowded to me since the streets are so narrow — cool that you still have NYC to look forward to. Congrats on notching (your first?) World Marathon Major, and thanks for another awesomely entertaining review, beet juice and all! LESS

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    cassidymegan3 Feb 25, 2019 at 10:16am

    Ja! Danke! This was my first World Major. Sponge water's not so bad. ☺

    Ja! Danke! This was my first World Major. Sponge water's not so bad. ☺

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    jfm0912 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Not my best race and mentally wasn't there. Regardless, it felt very crowded. Some of my issues: plastic cups that crunch under your feet and could potentially cut you if … MORE

    Not my best race and mentally wasn’t there. Regardless, it felt very crowded. Some of my issues: plastic cups that crunch under your feet and could potentially cut you if broken, pacers that weave and take a piss in the middle of the race, and a long walk to water after the finish.

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    alpacquing FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is my 5th star of the six world marathon majors. I didn't train as much as I did Boston and Big Sur. But I'm glad they still let runners … MORE

    This is my 5th star of the six world marathon majors. I didn’t train as much as I did Boston and Big Sur. But I’m glad they still let runners get an official time over 6:15. It’s a flat course. But I had a hard time with the time zone difference. Didn’t get much sleep even I was there 6 days before the race. I will definitely do this race again.

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    markknapp73 FIRST-TIMER '18

    The organization was the best I've ever seen in any race, bar none. It's a really fast course with excellent support and the crowd is great. You really get a … MORE

    The organization was the best I’ve ever seen in any race, bar none. It’s a really fast course with excellent support and the crowd is great. You really get a feel for the city (unlike Boston) and the temperature is almost always perfect. I was coming off a bad injury and hadn’t even run for an entire month but was so happy running this I performed much better than expected. If you want a PR then THIS truly is the race to run!

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    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    lchristensen44 FIRST-TIMER '18

    I ran Berlin as a lifetime goal to try to run all six majors. The time of year is great although the later start for near back of the pack … MORE

    I ran Berlin as a lifetime goal to try to run all six majors. The time of year is great although the later start for near back of the pack corrals leads to hotter temperatures in the final miles. The course is very flat. The water stops are well manned. If you are coming from the US be forewarned that the sports drinks are some sort of beet juice and warm tea. The race is working on replacing the very large amount of clear plastic cups it uses at the water stations. There were so many cups that the sound of their being crushed by runners was noticeably loud. The course has a lot of entertainment and a lot of spectators (although it seemed less than NYC). Running through the iconic Brandenburg Gate is quite exciting. Their race photos are great. I bought mine.

    The expo is nice but it’s unique venue makes navigating it a little awkward at times. I was hoping to buy a pint glass at the expo but there was less race logo’d merchandise than I expected. Get to the expo early if possible because I heard of long lines for those that went late Friday or Saturday.

    Speaking of Saturday, we took part in the free Breakfast Friendship run which had thousands from around the world run to the 1936 Olympic stadium. That was a fun experience that other races don’t offer.

    As a first time visitor we found the city fairly easy to navigate via public transit and accommodating. If I could afford it and win the race lottery again, I’d consider training to run Berlin a second time.

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    JoJoRunner REPEAT RUNNER '18

    For a couple of reasons.... Berlin is close to home and it is always nice going there and catching up with family and friends in Germany’s vibrant Capital. The fast … MORE

    For a couple of reasons…. Berlin is close to home and it is always nice going there and catching up with family and friends in Germany’s vibrant Capital. The fast flat course (though it has a couple of very tight sections especially for runner who are not in the first corals and „crash“ into slower runners from earlier waves) is definitely good for a PB as Kipchoge proofed in 2018 when he crushed the old world record by almost 1.5 minutes.
    If you want official adidas race swag it is highly recommended to preorder the stuff cause the expo seems to run out of popular sizes every year.
    Start and finish area is very big and visitors can not enter the Center part. So family memebers have to wait/ reassemble outside.
    Running towards the column of victory, along the Ku‘damm and Church of remembrance, Potsdam Square, Gendarmenmarkt and finishing after running trough the Gate of Brandenburg….
    Biased as I maybe am when it comes to Berlin marathon: it is one of the must-do races for every marathoner once in a lifetime!

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 02, 2018 at 1:50am

    Kipchoge may have stolen the show, but a huge congrats to you on your first sub-3 and on your Boston 2019 acceptance, my friend! Incredible accomplishments, both of them. 👏

    Kipchoge may have stolen the show, but a huge congrats to you on your first sub-3 and on your Boston 2019 acceptance, my friend! Incredible accomplishments, both of them. 👏

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    lassieandmax FIRST-TIMER '18

    I really, really liked this event and the city of Berlin much more than I expected I would. I thought the race was very well organized with plenty of people … MORE

    I really, really liked this event and the city of Berlin much more than I expected I would. I thought the race was very well organized with plenty of people around to help. I was very surprised by how inexpensive Berlin is compared to Stuttgart, Munich or Frankfurt. The city is very walkable, and has so much to see. Public transportation is easy to and Uber was cheap, even for an event weekend. Get there several days early and explore the city. We stayed close to the Brandenburg Gate, and got to familiarize ourselves with the race area in advance.

    Expo: The Expo is enormous. This is my first World Major and I loved the massiveness, international vendors and the food vendors there, but others who’ve been to Chicago or NYC complained it was disorganized. Lines were long, with people waiting about at least an hour for bibs and pre-ordered race shirts. I got lucky with the lines and walked right up to the counters.

    Course: Keep in mind it’s a big city race. Finisher village is enormous, you need your map to navigate it. I never found the course to be crowded or streets too narrow like others did. But my friend, who is tiny, said she was constantly under someone’s armpit or knocked around like a ping pong ball the whole way. I also never noticed any hills along the course. Perhaps one incline that lasted maybe 20 feet. Lots of changing scenery and lots of fan support. It’s great to have a name that translates well to many languages-I got called out a lot on the course. My biggest gripe is that I felt the water tables were too far apart-every 3 miles. I would prefer standardization in the majors with water 2 miles for every race. And those plastic cups were really awful. The sound as runners kicked through the tidal wave of cups will haunt me for weeks to come. And I guess with a huge international field you have to tolerate things that just would not be allowable on an American course-like shoving. A few folks met did remark how aggressive the runners were on the course. The pre-race pump up was really fun with high energy music, and HUGE TV’s for each corral to watch the previous corral start.

    Swag: It was okay. Adidas brand. Cool designs, but you have to buy your finisher shirt and the expo sold out of common sizes on day 2, so if you want to shop, get there on day 1. Post race goodie bag was severely lacking, and post race beer was non-alcoholic (?!?!). You did get a free poster at the Expo, that has a place for your bib. Speaking of bibs, they are huge (like an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper), you could wrap around yourself. And if you save your bib for a souvenir, expect to be disappointed because its just plain with a number and your name.

    The Bling: The medal features the portrait of someone significant in marathon running. This year has Kipchoge’s portrait on the back (cool coincidence with him setting a new record this year), which adds to the specialness for me. The best part is that I got to run the same race where Kipchoge broke the men’s world record. I was around the halfway point when I found out. The city erupted in celebration, which was fun to see.

    The best part: Running through Brandenburg Gate at the finish. So cool.
    Most annoying: Chip rental. Seriously? What decade are we in? Berlin needs the chips on bibs like everyone else. You get fined if you forget to return it.

    With all that aside, do the race, its worth it.

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    cassidymegan3 Feb 25, 2019 at 11:19am

    Ha! I forgot about the chip rental! But I did remember the giant bib.

    Ha! I forgot about the chip rental! But I did remember the giant bib.

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    M_Sohaskey Sep 24, 2018 at 4:43pm

    Congrats on your first World Marathon Major, Amy! These races are definitely in a class by themselves with their size and scope. I ran Berlin in 2014 when Dennis Kimetto… MORE

    Congrats on your first World Marathon Major, Amy! These races are definitely in a class by themselves with their size and scope. I ran Berlin in 2014 when Dennis Kimetto set the world record Kipchoge just smashed, so it was great fun to watch him do that this year, even though a part of me was sad to have to relinquish "my" world record after four years. It's interesting to hear how the race has changed, it sounds like the course may have gotten even busier since I ran it, WOW. Like you I enjoyed the city of Berlin a lot, though its narrow streets left a bit to be desired on race day. And stepping on and around those plastic cups was the worst. But running through the Brandenburg Gate was just amazing, best finish in racing. Congrats to you and your friend — hopefully this is one Major down, five to go for you! And thanks for another awesome review. LESS

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    dunguyen90 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Good: This is the fastest marathon course. Running the same course as the elite runners especially on the day the world record was broken. Great spacing of water stations. Great … MORE

    Good:
    This is the fastest marathon course.
    Running the same course as the elite runners especially on the day the world record was broken.
    Great spacing of water stations.
    Great crowd covering the entire course.

    Meh:
    Not all toilets have toilet paper…
    Maybe all the starting heats/waves shouldn’t start that long after each other.

    Bad:
    My own performance 🙁

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    M_Sohaskey Sep 23, 2018 at 10:05pm

    Sorry to hear your performance didn't live up to expectations, Du. It's tough to run a fast time with such large crowds all around you, so hopefully your disappointment won't… MORE

    Sorry to hear your performance didn't live up to expectations, Du. It's tough to run a fast time with such large crowds all around you, so hopefully your disappointment won't linger and you were able to enjoy the overall experience. Like you, when I ran Berlin in 2014 I discovered that all the porta-potties at the start line quickly ran out of toilet paper, so it's disappointing to hear that four years later they still haven't figured out that issue. In any case, CONGRATS on completing a World Marathon Major, and thanks for your thoughtful review. Run strong in Glasgow and Chicago, and all of us here at RaceRaves will be rooting for you! LESS

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    donknox FIRST-TIMER '17

    This is a fantastic race. For an event to handle 35k+ participants running the same distance over the same course and most speaking different languages, it is simply amazing. The … MORE

    This is a fantastic race. For an event to handle 35k+ participants running the same distance over the same course and most speaking different languages, it is simply amazing. The scenery is unsurpassed. It really is a flat course but it is hard to run a PB or fast if you are not in one of the first two or three corrals. There are just that many people but it was the most fun I have ever had running 26.2 miles (and I have run Disney). Bands, people, music, drums, more people, and just a beautiful city. I especially liked getting all of my finisher’s gear ahead of time saving a ton of time after the run was over. My wife and I started out in different corrals and yet we were able to find each other quickly because of the way the finish line was set up. This is a must do and the lottery system makes it possible for average joe runners like me to run one of the Big 6.

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    donknox Mar 01, 2018 at 11:29am

    Just a note on corrals versus waves -- I was in Corral G and my wife was in Corral H. If there were three starting waves as others state I… MORE

    Just a note on corrals versus waves -- I was in Corral G and my wife was in Corral H. If there were three starting waves as others state I guess I was in the second wave - still way too many people in front of me to really run. I ran Houston a few months later at 3:51:18. LESS

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    pkroon FIRST-TIMER '17

    I came to Berlin in 2017 excited to know that several of the world's fastest marathoners would be gunning to break the world record, which had been set on this … MORE

    I came to Berlin in 2017 excited to know that several of the world’s fastest marathoners would be gunning to break the world record, which had been set on this course in 2014. I was hoping for a personal best on this flat course, but it wasn’t to be. It was my first time doing an international race while dealing with jetlag, the day was rainy and the roads were slick, but I think the weather was more a nuisance for the spectators than for the runners. Regardless, it was an amazing experience to participate in the Berlin Marathon. I highly recommend spending a few extra days–maybe on the front end to help with the jetlag factor–to tour the city. There are plenty of hotels around with easy access to the trains.

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    Maniac5377 REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Berlin is definitely the fastest and flattest course in the world. There's only 2 baby bridges to go over in the first half of the race, and rest is pretty … MORE

    Berlin is definitely the fastest and flattest course in the world. There’s only 2 baby bridges to go over in the first half of the race, and rest is pretty flat. It’s a world class event, with a massive expo and organization is near perfect. The race is crowded and some runners will push others out of the way at the water station to grab liquids and some runners will simply bump you as they try to pass as opposed to a friendly heads up. The course is very scenic and you see many of the key sight seeing destinations in Berlin with the start and finish near the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate.

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    JoJoRunner FIRST-TIMER '17

    I did run Berlin as a challenge of two (world major) marathons within two weeks. So two big city races with heaps and heaps of thousands of runners. Berlin marathon … MORE

    I did run Berlin as a challenge of two (world major) marathons within two weeks.
    So two big city races with heaps and heaps of thousands of runners. Berlin marathon starts and finish in the historical axe between Brandenburger Gate and Siegessäule (Column of Victory). Runners run in 3 waves. The exhibition was huge and spread through numerous rooms in the Congress area near Gleisdreieck. The exhibition and race felt alike: always a bit crowded. Berlin doesn’t have wide avenues as Chicago or New York and so running in your own pace can be challenging. Organisation went smooth and you had the option of bag drop or getting a cape after the race that you had to determine upon registration.
    2017 was very moist and coolish- was running with two friends and we pushed us to a sub 3:10h photo finish. Will definitely try to do it again next year.
    On the downside: I never saw rubbish bins anywhere past the water stops and the streets were filled with trash quickly. And in the finish line area it was somewhat complicated to find what you were looking for but in retrospective to the area given and the size of the race it was adequate (never understand runners doing a full marathon and complaining about having to walk 0.3 miles after the finish line).

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    mnjogger FIRST-TIMER '17

    Berlin is a great city to visit! For that reason alone this is a great destination marathon. I've run the Chicago marathon before and use that as my baseline to … MORE

    Berlin is a great city to visit! For that reason alone this is a great destination marathon. I’ve run the Chicago marathon before and use that as my baseline to compare against since the number of runners is similar. Overall I thought the Berlin organizers could learn a lot from how things flow at the Chicago marathon. That said I don’t know the constraints the Berlin organizers are under.

    I went to the Expo Friday early afternoon and it was very crowded. At the entrance to the Expo they even separated runners from non-runners at bib pick up to help alleviate the congestion. What was unique at bib pick up was that they print your bib on-the-spot. I haven’t seen that before, but it meant you could enter any (marathon) line to get your bib. To get your (finisher) shirt you needed to travel to a different part of the Expo through crowds of people. One would think this could be optimized. I felt guilty getting a finisher shirt days before running the race: It should be earned.

    The Saturday shake out run to Olympic Stadium was nice and had many nationalities represented. Entering Olympic Stadium, seeing where the Olympic torch was and seeing the Olympic rings was inspirational. Partaking in the light breakfast they offered afterward wasn’t very orderly as people seemed to rush the food stands. “Crowds” was going to be the theme of this weekend.

    The race was Sunday, the same day as national elections. I was a little out of sorts because the map of the starting area didn’t show the bag drop off area. Textually they described it was near the start of each corral but I would have liked the visual as well printed on the map. I don’t want to leave things to Fate on race day morning and like to have things planned out. People did bring “drop” clothes to wear in the corrals. I mention that because I saw someone’s Facebook post weeks earlier stating drop clothes weren’t allowed (not true).

    There were 3 waves for approx 40,000 runners. I started among Wave 2 near the 4:30 pacers. It seemed there was always a wall of people in front of me throughout the entire race. For that reason I didn’t feel I could “race” this … it would have involved weaving in and out of people probably the entire race. I finished 4:08 which was pretty reasonable for me. Another person in my group ran with Wave 1 and finished 3:23. He commented he wasn’t as blocked in as I described and he could race it. I guess it all depends where you start. On that note, the corral you start in is based on your marathon best from the past 3 years. Corral placement is not based on what you anticipate running which is how some other marathons do it. That said there were a complement of pacers in each of the three waves, e,g, 3:45,4:00, etc hour pacers in each of the waves.

    Along the course I thought there was good crowd support and cheering. The volunteers were great. Water stops seemed to creep up on me. Better visual cues that a water stop is coming would be appreciated. Water stops later in the race had tea as well, sometimes comfortably warm which was welcome on this day. The plastic cups used at the water stops were hard to work with while running: I prefer paper cups that you can fold and drink on the run.

    I was perhaps too focused on my running to notice the landmarks we passed. The roads would widen and narrow at times and I wanted to anticipate how I’d merge into the crowd of runners. Road conditions were pretty good overall but you did want to watch you step. Running through the Brandenburg Gate to the finish was pretty cool.

    There were several who traveled with me to run this race. We compared the distances on our running watches at the end. The mileage varied from 26.4 miles to 26.9 miles.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 20, 2017 at 8:49pm

    Congrats on a well-run race in an amazing place, David! Sounds like you and I had similar experiences, and it's funny you mention your friend running a 3:23... I ran… MORE

    Congrats on a well-run race in an amazing place, David! Sounds like you and I had similar experiences, and it's funny you mention your friend running a 3:23... I ran a 3:24 back in 2014, and I still felt like the course was as congested as you describe it the entire way. Looking at the video footage of myself at the 25K mark, it still looks like we're within 100 yards of the start line, it's so crowded. I started at the front of corral 2, and those first few hundred yards were the least crowded of the day. I'd also agree that the production (and race) at Chicago are superior, though their streets are wider than Berlin's as well. But WOW, one thing neither Chicago nor Boston nor any of the other Majors have is the chance to run through the Brandenburg Gate at the end – THAT was the highlight for me. Congrats again, and thanks for another always helpful review! LESS

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    kristin FIRST-TIMER '17

    No water and LONG bathroom lines at the start!!! Water stops were not well marked / organized. Was there an energy drink (other than Red Bull)? Finish line was not … MORE

    No water and LONG bathroom lines at the start!!! Water stops were not well marked / organized. Was there an energy drink (other than Red Bull)? Finish line was not well organized at all. Difficult to fun ponchos, not clear where to get medal, water, food. Had to remove your own chip from your shoe before leaving the grounds. No clear direction on where / how to get out. Disappointed by the complete lack of organization.

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    JoJoRunner Nov 30, 2017 at 2:46pm

    A bit surprised to read that review. Why is the race so hard for you (5stars)- it is a flat race and road conditions are good- having said that, I… MORE

    A bit surprised to read that review. Why is the race so hard for you (5stars)- it is a flat race and road conditions are good- having said that, I agree on some congestion issues but all in all the production/ organisation was smooth. I had volunteers helping / guiding me and there were plenty of signs in the finish area. I had more than one race where you had to return the chips if you don’t own it and for environmental reasons I prefer multiple use of chips. I hope you did enjoy the overall experience nonetheless and that you find „your“ race. Happy running! LESS

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    YanisNanashi Nov 30, 2017 at 2:42pm

    Hi Kristin! I have just read your review and I am so surprised how different experiences can be. I ran Berlin Marathon for the first time and I can´t believe… MORE

    Hi Kristin! I have just read your review and I am so surprised how different experiences can be. I ran Berlin Marathon for the first time and I can´t believe that it´s possible to review an event like Berlin Marathon with just 2 shoes. I had such a fantastic race and I had absolutely no difficulties in finding my poncho, I got energy drinks along the course, I got my medal immediately after the finish line, I got water etc. Ok, as I have my own chip I did not have to remove the chip, but I had to do so at several other races which has never been a problem for me. I have run different marathons and the only one that was definitely better than Berlin was Chicago. Hope your next marathon will be a better one! :-D LESS

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    merz80 FIRST-TIMER '17

    No finisher shirt Too crowded Weather was not ideal Aid stations had no trash cans! Didn't cared much for the plastic cups for water (carton would've been better) Multipower drink … MORE

    No finisher shirt
    Too crowded
    Weather was not ideal
    Aid stations had no trash cans! Didn’t cared much for the plastic cups for water (carton would’ve been better)
    Multipower drink was too diluted

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