Race day started disgustingly early for a Sunday morning, but not, apparently, too early for the hotel breakfast bar. I think they might have had a few other marathon runners in the building. We had to be up at the start for around 7:30am to allow for general crowd confusion and still get up to the start line for 9 am. Well, Kas did, I didn’t.
We took the U-Bahn up to Brandenburger Tor, the closest station to the Reichstag and the event area where we’d agreed to meet our club running buddies. It was a bright morning, but very cold. Very, very cold. I don’t think we’d catered for it being quite that cold. Nice for running. Rubbish for standing around.
The club running buddies all turned up quite late, so Kas was busily stretching and keeping warm and eventually decided that she was going to have to go into the event village to hand in her bag. Just as she decided that some of the running buddies arrived, so we had a brief group discussion before they decided it was time to go. Once they went to the baggage drop they were inside the event village and I couldn’t go there, so we said our goodbyes and I set off on my geocaching expedition while Kas was doing her running.
There wasn’t much of a plan, except that I had a copy of the course map, a phone full of caches to look for and an online “stalk-the-missus” app that wasn’t working. I only got it to work after uninstalling it and reinstalling it. It seemed as if it needed to be installed while the race was actually in progress – I initially installed it the night before and on the morning of the race as I was plugging in Kas’s race number it came up with a scheduled starting time and then confirmation of actual start time, and then it stayed that way until I decided to try the uninstall/reinstall technique, which was about halfway through her race. It was also a bit rubbish in terms of the information given. Initially, I had that actual start time, but after the install I had Kas’s running time through various checkpoints but didn’t have her start time any more, so whilst I knew she was progressing well I wasn’t able to tell the time on my watch when she’d be passing particular points on the course.
Anyway, my route took me along the River Spree, and then down onto Unter den Linden, down to Französischer Dom, along the Spreekanal onto Leipziger Straße, then down past Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish Museum and onto Yorckstraße. Somewhere along Yorckstraße I tried to wait to see if Kas ran past me, but after 20 minutes wait I concluded I must have just missed her, so I moved on feeling slightly disappointed with myself for having taken so long to get here. It was at this point that I decided to reinstall the “stalk-a-punter” app on the phone, and this time it worked straight away.
I was now getting to the point where I wouldn’t see Kas at all unless I got a shift on, so I hot-footed it over to Hauptstraße, where I thought I’d be able to catch her at around the 37km point. In the event I got there maybe only 10 minutes before she did, but thankfully I got close enough to the front of the crowd here to be able to see her, and for her to be able to see and hear me. So I managed to give her a final shout of encouragement as she entered her last 5km.
At that point, I also realised it would be highly likely that she’d get back to Brandenburger Tor well before me. She had 5km to run, I had to get into a U-Bahn station through the crowds, wait for trains to take me 5 stops on 2 different lines, and then climb out and get through the crowds at the finish to find her in the waiting area. No hope for me then. It’s just as well it took her a while to get through the finish line and back to the waiting areas, else she’d have been waiting ages for me.
As with the previous day, I seemed to have walked a very long way for not very many finds. There were hopelessly busy spots, concrete canyons with no signal, obviously missing ones and a couple of just horrible locations that I didn’t pursue for long. I guess urban caching is a different game to countryside caching.
I did eventually meet up with Kas at the waiting area, where I discovered she’d finished in a new PB of 4 hrs, 3 minutes and something, and we then fought our way through the crowd around towards Brandenburger Tor where we gave in to the need for lunch and had a large beer and an equally large chunk of pizza. Lush!
After our pizza and beer, well earned in my case and very well earned in Kas’s, we sauntered down to Potsdamer Platz again (“sauntering” maybe sounds a bit speedy, let’s correct that to “moseying”) and rode the U-Bahn back to our hotel. It was busy with sweaty runners. Back at the hotel, Kas had planned a gradual cool-down involving the bed and several packs of Party Rings.
We had a Sunday evening appointment with the official race party, which was being held in an old East German theatre now converted to a hopelessly trendy nightclub place over on Karl Marx Allee on the eastern side of the city centre.
To get there we caught an S-Bahn around the top and through the Hauptbahnhof and down to Alexanderplatz. We had to change trains here and as we were in no hurry we decided to go look around for something to eat. Neither of us fancied anything posh, so we ended up in one of the least posh places you could imagine, eating sausage and chips, a Currywurst in my case. It was ideal preparation for beer.
We found the venue for the party and mooched about a bit, waiting again for running buddies to arrive. This time they were sufficiently late that Kas and me retired to a nearby bar to shift a beer or two while we were waiting. It was a weird kind of a place. The staff had an apparent aversion to smiling and later on, when all the others joined us and decided to order food, they had a surprisingly unhelpful attitude towards a group of ten (OK, slightly loud) people sitting in their otherwise totally empty establishment on a Sunday night. You’d have thought they’d got somewhere better to be.
Anyway, you can tell from the photos here that the bar and nightclub venue were well placed for nice urban landscapes.
The after-race party itself proved to be an extremely sweaty, quite noisy and seemingly endless series of queues for getting to the bar, or the toilets, or the bar again. And I had to pay to get in – something about me not having run the race. But once we were all suitably provisioned with beer we made our way into the main hall just in time to see the official award ceremony, which included a good light show, lots of self-congratulation, and then lots of applause for the leading men and women, and especially for Wilson Kipsang of Kenya, who won the men’s race in a new world record time of 2:03.23.
After the awards though we both started to feel a bit the worse for wear so we took the decision to scoot back to the hotel, leaving the running buddies there for a few more beers.