Overall Rating
Overall Rating (5 Reviews)
4.2
(5 Ratings)(5 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.2
SCENERY
3.8
PRODUCTION
4.4
SWAG
2.8
A group of runners from one of Germany’s most prestigious athletics clubs, SC Charlottenburg, organised the first BERLIN-MARATHON in 1974. It was not until 1981 that the race moved from the Grunewald (a big forest) into the city center of West Berlin. Supported by the three western allied forces (Britain, … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Profile photo of Karina
    Karina FIRST-TIMER '16

    Very well organized, large Expo. I stayed at a hotel that was listed on the website and it was right behind the start area and also had some orientation type … MORE

    Very well organized, large Expo. I stayed at a hotel that was listed on the website and it was right behind the start area and also had some orientation type things that were unaffiliated with the race to help out runners staying there. The breakfast run the day before at the Olympiastadion was amazing. An unbeatable finish and medal with the Brandenburger Tor. The spectators were plentiful and provided a lot of energy, plus private musical acts that were very regularly placed along the course. I definitely recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Donn Raymond
    Donn Raymond FIRST-TIMER '16

    For a big time, big city, 38,000 participant marathon, this race was really well run. Although getting in is via lottery or through a tour agency, the fact that it … MORE

    For a big time, big city, 38,000 participant marathon, this race was really well run. Although getting in is via lottery or through a tour agency, the fact that it is one of the 6 World Marathon Majors, makes this race extra exciting.
    Expo: busy, crowded, jammed into a fairly small venue. I could not get in and out fast enough. I was very concerned about the race itself, and the anticipated large crowds after going to the expo. Definitely treat yourself to a “cocktail” prior to the expo, just to be relaxed. 🙂
    Race morning: if you stay downtown, the race starts and finishes very close to the Potsdam Platz area. Easy to walk to and from the race and local hotels. I stayed at the Marriott, but there are several close by hotels to stay at, and the bus/subway station is also close by and easily used race morning.
    The Berlin Marathon course: flat, easy to run, tons of spectators, very well organised as far as 8 groups, and spacing out the start. Except for the first quarter mile, i always felt that i had plenty of room to run. After the chaos of the expo, i had concerns about the race course. No worries! The start was in a large fenced off park area. As i arrived early, i had lots of room to just lay on the ground and relax before the race. Lots of activity going on, but plenty of space to feel comfortable and relaxed.
    Crowds and spectators: almost the entire course is run to enable spectators, and there were plenty, cheering and encouraging the runners. I never felt claustrophobic, as i felt in the London marathon.
    Swag: you must purchase a t shirt if you want one. The medal is nice sized, and a definite tribute to the city and a previous runner. Otherwise, NO SWAG.
    The course, as advertised is flat and fast. Running through a bit of history, one really needs to look at your surroundings. I would say the Berlin marathon was one of my most enjoyable of the large marathons. Being one of the majors, made it that much better.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2

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    Profile photo of Dan Solera
    dansolera FIRST-TIMER '15

    Despite my incredibly high expectations of the Berlin Marathon, I loved this race. I knew that the Expo would be enormous (it was), and that the streets were a bit … MORE

    Despite my incredibly high expectations of the Berlin Marathon, I loved this race. I knew that the Expo would be enormous (it was), and that the streets were a bit too narrow (they were), and that the post-race spread was surprisingly meager (it was) and that participants have to pay extra for a t-shirt (they do). In spite of all these significant hindrances to perfection, I loved my time in Berlin, though not my RACE time.

    Performance-wise, I went too fast and blew up around mile 16 before dragging myself to the finish in one of the worst positive splits in history. But that aside, the race was impeccably organized, with an almost stereotypical German adherence to efficiency. Runners have to go through FOUR checkpoints to reach their corrals and each one is strictly manned. The course is as flat as advertised, though there are about three small hills in the first six miles that call into question whether it is truly flatter than Chicago.

    Berlin’s denizens were out in full force. Though they weren’t as vociferous as the average American cheer squad, they were supportive and friendly. Aid stations weren’t loudly advertised as they usually are in stateside marathons, but they were properly spaced, stocked, and each cup was very full. The plastic cups did become a nuisance, even for me, and I finished in the first fifth of participants. I can easily imagine the discarded cups becoming an unmanageable pile with another hour of runners.

    The medal is simple, just as ornate as it needs to be. The lack of a participant t-shirt is definitely confounding, but we’re all there to run fast, not to collect more tech shirts. It’s a definite bucket list race, one to be experienced on its own. Though it’s made for elite PRs, it’s not the most PR-friendly course I’ve experienced – that honor still belongs to Chicago.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    2
    My Media

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    Profile photo of Jeff Rohleder
    jrohlede FIRST-TIMER '14

    Berlin is a good, well run marathon. It is one of the 6 majors. Couse is as advertised - flat and easy running. Lots of runners - 45,000 so if … MORE

    Berlin is a good, well run marathon. It is one of the 6 majors. Couse is as advertised – flat and easy running. Lots of runners – 45,000 so if you don’t like large marathons this is not for you. Expo is huge in and airport hanger. To be expected for the amount of runners they have. Race and expo organization are 5 star. But something just seemed to be missing. Maybe it was because of the travel or being in a non American city the excitement of being involved in a world class sporting event just wasn’t there. Other than the start and finish the course – other than being completely flat was somewhat ho hum. So if you want to do all 6 majors you have to do Berlin. Don’t get me wrong it is a really good marathon – just not a great one.

    The best thing – sorry this isn’t anything to do with the marathon. Berlin is a city with so much history – bad and good. Just being there for four days and trying to absorb and see all the historical sites / museums having to do with WW1, WW2 and the Communist regime was overwhelming but loved it.

    Worse thing – The finishers medal. C’mon Berlin you can do better. Your a major. I am not a bling freak but have done 43 marathons and this medal ranks as one of the weakest one I have received. Have got better medals at some 10k’s I have run.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Mike Sohaskey
    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '14

    BOTTOM LINE: “Flat and fast” is the phrase most often used to describe the Berlin Marathon, and I’d agree with the first part of that – the course is flat … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: “Flat and fast” is the phrase most often used to describe the Berlin Marathon, and I’d agree with the first part of that – the course is flat for everyone. And in all fairness, its obscene flatness does make it faster than just about any other marathon course out there – even the Chicago Marathon has “Mount Roosevelt” lying in wait at mile 26. But Berlin’s fastness is deceptive because as flat as the course is, unless you’re an elite it’s also among the most crowded courses you’ll ever run. And it’s crowded for pretty much the entire 26.2 miles, with Berlin’s narrow streets allowing for only occasional stretches of comfortably uncongested running. That said, I was still able to PR by 4½ minutes.

    So race day felt a bit like an extended cattle drive, and race production – especially for a world marathon major – was surprisingly subpar (see below). But if you’re a hardcore runner, it’s doubtful anything I write will discourage you from running Berlin. In some ways it feels as though the organizers are saying, “Hey, if you want to go run a DIFFERENT world marathon major, be our guest.”

    And honestly, I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from running Berlin, if for no other reason than to experience and immerse yourself in one of the world’s most historically and culturally amazing cities. Despite my wanting to curl up and sleep under it by that point, running through the Brandenburg Gate at mile 26 was an indescribable thrill, and moments like that are a major reason I love running the world. But as epic a race weekend as this was, a few tweaks could have made it so much better…

    PRODUCTION: I can only imagine how challenging it must be, and how much choreography and security must be involved, to organize and stage a marathon the size and gravitas of Berlin. With that in mind I tip my cap to the organizers, since to a person every runner I spoke with had an overall positive experience.

    That said, race production is where Berlin fell short on many levels. In comparison to the only other marathon major I’ve run so far, Chicago 2012, Berlin was a disappointing second. And many if not all of these issues were echoed by other runners:

    • The expo was TOO FREAKING HUGE, and was more like a trade show than a race expo. It’s a pretty clear indication your expo is out of control when it expands to fill several hangars of a former airport. Unlike U.S. race expos there were scarcely any free samples to be had… every item seemingly carried a price tag, and even the normally generous PowerBar peeps were carefully guarding their electrolyte drink station. What’s more, the expo was a harbinger of things to come on race day as I felt inexorably herded in different directions, first to access each separate hangar, then to enter the bib pickup area, then to exit the bib pickup area, then to traverse (how convenient!) the Adidas storefront hawking official race merchandise, and finally toward the ausgang (exit).
    • And on the topic of the Adidas storefront, as absurd as it sounds in 2014, Berlin race registration includes NO race t-shirt – though official race shirts were available at the expo for the {ahem} bargain price of 30€ (= $39). Do a quick calculation, and you can estimate how much money the organizers must be a) saving by not providing t-shirts, and b) raking in by charging for shirts.
    • Re: the pre-race setup, I arrived one hour beforehand and waited in line for ~40 minutes to use one of the ten port-o-lets that were serving literally hundreds of anxious runners. This was horrific planning by the organizers, and was by far the most stressful part of race weekend – even the much smaller (and more well-organized) California International Marathon, which I ran in 2011, had roughly 10x the number of units as Berlin. Not only that, but when I finally reached the front of the line my port-o-let was out of toilet paper. And to top off my pre-race cortisol levels, I completed my harried pit stop two minutes before my wave was scheduled to depart, and had to hurriedly jog another ¼-mile (at least) to reach the start line where I barely arrived in time to join the corral departing in the wave after mine. Damn, I’m getting stressed out all over again just writing this.
    • Luckily I took advantage of only one aid station on the entire course, so I don’t have much to report about their frequency or offerings. But I couldn’t avoid noticing that the organizers chose plastic rather than paper cups – an unfortunate choice since plastic cups ended up bouncing underfoot at every aid station, as runners were forced to expend energy sidestepping carefully to avoid getting their foot caught in one.
    • The post-race spread was abysmal, and in fact I walked what felt like several hundred yards through the finish chute before even reaching the first water station (at which point I was shunted to another table, since that water was only for medical emergencies). And with apologies to Erdinger, their sponsorship was a big ol’ letdown. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that, after running a world marathon major in Germany’s largest city, the word “free” should fall before rather than after the word “alcohol”. Chicago after all had free-flowing real beer (thanks, Goose Island!). Alcohol-free beer after the Berlin Marathon felt like having your picture taken with a cardboard Mickey Mouse cut-out at the Walt Disney World Marathon.
    • Food-wise, the only offerings I could see were apples and bananas, with no obvious source of protein – ironic, considering that even the 6K fun run Katie had run the day before had provided its scarcely winded finishers with both regular and chocolate milk. Later I realized that the not-so-goodie bag handed out by volunteers in the finish chute (why do I need another goodie bag?) contained a PowerBar wafer product, which like so many of their products over the years held true to the PowerBar ethic of falling just this side of “Soylent” on the palatability scale. Accordingly, I gave up after two nibbles.

    For a more blow-by-blow account of the weekend, check out my race report at http://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2014/10/13/the-berlin-marathon-race-report/.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    3
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2
    My Media

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