Lotteri for plass i Berlin Marathon 2020

Da jeg begynte å slenge meg på marathon for ca 9 år siden, var det nok å gå inn på det enkelte maratons hjemmeside og registrere seg. Så også for min første deltagelse i Berlin Marathon i 2010.

Kun 2 år senere var sitsen derimot en annen. Oppmerksomheten rundt Abbott World Marathon Majors, som Berlin er en del av sammen med London, New York, Boston, Chicago og Tokyo, vokste i rekordfart og plasser til disse løpene ble raskt ganske så ettertraktet. Resultatet ble at de fleste av disse maratonene (med Boston som et hederlig unntak det det er ganske så vanskelig å sikre seg plass) begynte å innføre lotterier for å gjøre kampen om startplasser, for de som ikke var gode nok for direkte kvalifisering, så rettferdig som mulig.

I årets Berlin Marathon kjøpte vi oss tur via Springtime i Norge, noen som absolutt er et godt alternativ, men som allikevel blir noen lapper dyrere enn å få plass via lotteriet. Et tredje alternativ (fortsatt gitt at man ikke klarer å kvalifisere seg på tid) er  å kjøpe seg en charity-plass hvor man forplikter seg til å donere en viss sum til et godt formål i bytte for en startplass. Jeg gjorde det i New York og endte riktignok med å betale mesteparten selv, men allikevel var det billigere enn å kjøpe en plass via et reisebyrå (vel og merke var dollarkursen den gang på NOK 5,5).

Vel, tilbake til Berlin Marathon. Etter å ha karret til oss den gjeve (og ultrafete, sjekk ut den til venstre under) Six-Star-Finisher-medaljen tidligere i år, har kjæresten og jeg vært på jakt etter et nytt mål. Vi tror nå at vi har funnet det… Deltar man 10 ganger i Berlin Marathon blir man nemlig medlem av den eksklusive Jubilée-klubben, får garantert startplass, egen lounge samt eget startnummer. Kjæresten har nå 5 og jeg 4 deltagelser, så med andre ord ser det ut til at det blir noen Berlin Marathon på oss fremover.

Vi har nå kastet oss på lotteriet for en startplass til neste år og her krysses alle fingre og tær for at lotteriet vil gå vår vei…

Berlin Marathon – Race Report from the back of the field

In pouring rain, one hour after the gunshot for the elite, it was only the slowest left to start the 46th Berlin Marathon, and among them – me.  As so often before, I had time to repeatedly ask myself the question: Why on earth are you doing this? And the answer is quite simple and it hasn’t got to do with the joy of running or anything like that; I simply do not want my boyfriend to be the only one with a medal around his neck at the end of the day – affectionately mocking me with phrases like “pain is temporary – quitting lasts forever” (true story after I had to leave the race after 25 km in Stockholm due to an injury a few years ago). That is why I did not forfeit, despite fever and sore throat, but decided to give the medal hunt a try.

After just a couple of km I realized that this was going to be tough one (so, what else is new…?). My leg felt like led, and I was not at all able to keep the wanted pace without jumping to pulse zone 4. Not a great start, in other words… After only 15 km I felt completely depleted and then the heavy rain started. Perfect! From here on I was able to wog my way to the finishing line, but the jogging part became constantly shorter and shorter. For the approx. 10 last km, I was actually able to increase the jogging intervals, but that was simply because just walking was too painful to endure.

For the first time in history I used wireless airbuds, with a promised durance of 5 hours, but which only lasted for about 3 (thank you Bose Soundsport). Luckily I had foreseen this problem and had brought the portable charger, so after approx 10 minutes, the airbuds lasted for another hour before I had to repeat the charge.

Nourishment during a race always constitutes a big problem for meg, since my stomach cannot take any kind of sport gels. I did, however, bring with me 2 x baby smoothies, which I was able to digest during the marathon along with a couple of banana bites. Not much, but at least enough to keep me going.

For the last km, up the Under the Linden and to Brandenburger Tor, I was so motivated by the fact that I was approaching the finishing line, so this km was actually my fastest one. If you are thinking “If that was your fastest, then you had more to go on earlier in the race” think again. I REALLY did not! The mere thought of the finishing line along with the cheers of the spectators still left along the course, just gives me a second wind.

FINALLY, I could cross the finishing line and collect my fourth big, fat, Berlin Marathon Medal. My boyfriend had graciously been waiting for me for 90 minutes, so when I had regained my strengths and gotten changed, we left the area. Still runners were out in the course, but now they had closed off the finishing line, so the runners were not able to cross it or collect a medal. It was really heartbroken to watch… I mean, I do get that after 6:15 you do not get an official time, but someone could at least stay behind and give the slowest participants a medal for their effort!

Anyway, since this was my fourth time in Berlin and my boyfriend’s fifth, we have now decided to go for the jubilee membership (10 x Beriln Marathon), so we are already looking forward to next year and hopefully it will be a bit easier than this year.

 

To sum up: I got the medal, and nothing else matters 🙂

 

Berlin Marathon 2019 – stemningsrapport før start

Det hjelper liksom ikke hvor mange ganger jeg har gjort dette tidligere eller hvor lavt jeg har lagt lista i forhold til egen prestasjon; natten før et maraton skal være lang og preget av lite søvn. Som en ekstra piff våknet jeg nok en dag med feber og med en halsvondt som hadde bestemt seg for nok et gjestespill. Alt er med andre ord som det pleier og etter en god dose paracet og ibux er jeg klar for nok et maraton; det 24. totalt og det 4. i Berlin.

Fordelen med å reise med et reisebyrå er at man blir busset bort til startområdet og slipper å styre med metro eller å slite ut apostlenes hester lenge før strengt tatt nødvendig. Ulempen er at siden gatene langs løypa stenges før løpet, går bussen tidlig og vi var i dag på plass 3 timer før jeg skulle ut (danner som vanlig baktroppen). Bussen tok visstnok en litt ureglementert stikkvei gjennom noen politisperringer og vipps var vi inne på området (uten å bli sjekket, red anm) hvor vi fant ut at ingen av de andre 45.000+ deltagerne hadde sluppet inn enda, men sto fortsatt i kø på utsiden av sperringene og ventet på å få bagen sjekket. 15 min senere var imidlertid området fylt opp.

Soloppgang over Riksdagsbygningen dannet unektelig et fantastisk bakteppe til arrangementet, men etter å ha sett meg ferdig på både soloppgang og arkitektur, rettet min oppmerksomhet seg mot noe ganske annet…

Altså, vi snakker ca 12 grader, litt sur vind og rått i lufta og her vandrer folk rundt i shorts og T-skjorte/tynn genser???? Ok, greit at jeg ikke er helt representativ her jeg sitter med lang genser, foret løpejakke, fleecegenser, lange tights, joggebukse, podens avdankede lue og buff samt teppe, men selv kjæresten fra Hammerfest har på seg hettegenser, tynn jakke og overtrekksbukse.

En time før de første skal i ilden og spenningen på området stiger. De siste forberedelser gjøres og nå gjelder det å time dobesøk så godt man kan. Her snakker vi nemlig om et generøst antall meter kø, så her gjelder det å verken stille seg i kø for tidlig (så blæra rekker å begynne og krangle igjen rett før start), eller for sent slik at man ikke rekker det før start. Min strategi er å vente ut bermen så lenge som mulig siden jeg starter sist, samt å ha med eget dopapir da det ganske fort blir tomt i båsene. Det hjelper imidlertid ikke hvor mange ganger jeg er på do før start, når jeg står på startstreken kan du banne på at jeg må igjen uansett. Heldigvis «glemmer» kroppen dette etterhvert som den gradvis går i overlevelsesmodus underveis i løpet og det har skjedd at jeg ikke har vært på do før dagen etter (som den gangen jeg fikk akutt nyresvikt og tilbragte natten på sykehuset). Satser imidlertid på å slippe og tilbringe noe tid i syketeltet denne gangen (*krysse fingre*)

Men, nok prat om kroppslige funksjoner for denne gang. 30 min før start må man levere inn klesposen til etter løpet og så er det bare å bevege seg i retning av startblokken sin.

I det øyeblikket jeg hadde tatt av meg overtrekksklærne og levert fra meg bagasjeposen, samt konstatert at jeg hadde en 10cm revne i den ene joggeskoen, begynte det å regne og få min før startskuddet går for blokka mi, må jeg nå på do. Som tidligere nevn; alt er som det pleier, og jeg har kun egen manglende trening å skylde på hvis alt går i dass i dag. Stemningen i startfeltet er imidlertid upåklagelig, så satser på medalje rundt halsen før dagen er omme.

 

Berlin Marathon – Endelig er navnet mitt på Abbott Wall of Fame

Etter 8 år med blod, svette og (ikke minst) tårer hvor jeg har mer eller mindre stabbet meg gjennom Berlin, London, Boston, Chicago, New York og Tokyo fikk jeg tidligere i år den gjeve «Six Star Finisher» medaljen utdelt i Tokyo. I dag opplevde jeg noe nesten like stort (eller forresten, det kan jo ikke måle seg med den ultrafete medaljen, men stort var det lell…); å se navnet mitt på Abbott’s Wall of Fame på Expo’en til Berlin Marathon 2019.

Ca 6.000 løpere fra hele verden har fullført disse seks store maratonene, hvorav 46 er fra Norge. Av disse 46 er det kun 16 damer og blant disse er lille, trege meg, selve beviset på at man selv som gogger, kombinert med å være en sta jævel, kan klare å kravle seg inn i «creme de la creme»-klubben innenfor maratonverdenen.

8 Things You Should Know About Berlin Marathon

2019 is my fourth time in Berlin Marathon, and my experiences have been many, both memorable ones and painful ones. You can read a summary of them here.

But, cut to the chase, here are some pointers I have picked up along the way:

1. Registration

Registration to Berlin Marathon is by lottery which opens in Mid-October the previous year. When registering for the ballot, they will ask you for your credit card details and if you are awarded a spot, you will be automatically charged. In other words, do not enter the ballot if you are not certain you will run. The result of the ballot will be published approximately in April the following year.

If you want to avoid the suspense of hoping to win a spot at the ballot, you can always secure your spot through a travel agent or by buying a charity spot. More expensive, but at least a sure thing.

 

2. Information

The Berlin Marathon organizers will not over-communicate with you in any way from the time you have been assigned a spot and until race day, but in mid-September you will start to receive some practical information and your start pass.

 

3. The Expo

The expo is at the former airport, Flughafen Tempelhof and make sure you bring your passport or national ID card when collecting your start number. The metro system is easy to understand and is a short walk from the expo area. The expo is open from Thursday to Saturday before the race and, as always, it pays to be an early-bird.

 

4. Start/Finish area

Both start and finish is in the Tiergarten Park and while at least all travel agents have busses taking you to the Start area, you have to get yourself back to the hotel after crossing the Finishing line. Since I am practically dead and usually have to be dragged away from the Finishing line, we make sure that we stay at a hotel in walkable distance from Tiergarten.

The weather can be wuite shifty in Berlin that time of year, so make sure that you keep warm before the race. I usually buy cheap blankets in bulk to approx USD/piece to keep myself warm.

When registering for the race, you get the option og either get a changing bag to use pre- and post-race or a poncho for those not handing in a bag to be transported to the Finishing line. You can not change your choice at a later stage so make sure you choose wisely.

 

5. The Course

The course is practically flat, so if you have ambitions of a personal best, that is definitely doable in Berlin. One important thing to remember when approaching the Finishing Line, though. The race is not over when you cross Brandenburger Tor. A friend of mine (a real fast one at that), thought he was finished after Brandenburger Tor and laid down on the ground in combined celebration and exhaustion. A mascot went over to point him to the actual Finishing line around 200 meters away, but my friendthough he was there to congratulate him and just gave him a big hug. The expression on his face when he realizes his mistake? PRICELESS!! Thank God we have it all on tape….

 

6. Time Limit

The time limit to complete is 6:15, which allows even really slow “runners” like my self to collect a much coveted medal (and yup, I do have the Abbott Six Star Finisher’s medal as well…).

 

7. The Medal

The medal is not one of the most spectacular in my collection, but is certainly suitable. It has a ribbon in the colors of the German flag and and last year’s winner and Brandenburger Tor on each side og the medal itself.

 

8. Post-Race Picnic in a Nudist Park

One beautiful post-race day, we decided to have a picnic in the Tiergarten Park. Me and a girlfriend went ahead to find a suitable spot while the boys went to stock up on food and bubbles. We went into the park and found quite an idyllic spot to sit, put out a blanket and sat down. Then suddenly we realized that everyone around us where totally naked. We felt quite embarrassed, not that we have anything against nudists, but simply because we had not expected that and quite frankly we were a bit out of our comfort zone. We tried to look chill, but had a really hard time when an older fellow behind us started with some naked stretching. My friend had really hurt her back during the marathon and was not able to get up for us to find somewhere else to sit, so we tried our best to keep our eyes from wondering while having our picnic. (read more). So, in other words, if you are a nudist; swell, then this is certainly up your alley, but if you prefer to be clothed (and others to be as well), then maybe you should do some extra research before settling down.

London Marathon – My favorite in the Abbott Series

After doing the New York Marathon in 2013, the bar was set high for beating that experience. London Marathon, however, a great deal due to the fantastic spectators along the course, having a party from start to end (meaning they were pretty intoxicated by the time I came along).

My first spot in London Marathon (in 2014) was secured through Springtime.no since I did not risk loosing out in the lottery (when all the traveling agency spots are taken). I had, as I always do, trained way too much way to late and ended up with both shin splints and hip bursitis, but didn’t want to miss out, so I started anyway (a real recipe for disaster in other words). Well, the race wasn’t very glorious for my part. The last 17 km I crawled my way to the finishing line with a severe limp, in the end using about 12 minutes/km, while piss drunk English men cheered me on the whole way, offering me beer (which I declined) and “lifted” me the rest of the way while shouting encouraging phrases like “Come on love, you can do it!” Have I mentioned I love these guys? Dissolved in tears and in excruciating pain, I managed to cross the finishing line and grab the medal. When I came to my senses again I was able to enjoy the though of all the crazy outfits I noticed on my way, like several guys running with a giant rhino’s head, one lady was trying to do the marathon in high heels (don’t believe she made it, though) and the best one of them all, a guy carrying an old fashion fridge!

My second attempt in London was in 2016, where I secured a spot through Rogaland Marathon Travels. At least time I did not have any injuries to blame, so I completed in my usual slow manner. This time, I managed to enjoy some of the costumes along the race. Among others I passed a several meter long T-rex (you know, the feeling of finally passing the dinosaur…) and right before the finishing line, I crushed Jesus on a cross (a guy running barefoot, tied to a huge cross).

Among the six marathons included in the Abbott series, London is definitely my favorite. Securing a spot, however, can be tricky and the wait list can be several years, unless you are fit enough to qualify or lucky enough to win the lottery. But hey, “Wait lists are temporary, big fat medals last for ever” 🙂

 

 

 

New York Marathon – Once in a lifetime

Preparations

In Boston Marathon in 2103, 2 bombs went off in the finishing area, killing 3 and wounding hundreds. I had never considered marathons as possible terrorist targets, so it was with a bit skepticism I accepted a charity spot to the New York Marathon in the fall the same year.  Could it happen again…?

Well, to put it like this. The security measures taken before, during and after the race could not have been better. Body search, police helicopters constantly hoovering above us, plenty of armed guards in the starting area and along the course and a tightly closed off finishing area (it took me like 1 hour to get out of there afterwards..). Even with all the security the organizers, and the good people of New York managed to give us an event for a life time. What a crowd and what a support along the way!

New York Marathon starts at Staten Island, ends up in Central Part and passes through all the boroughs of New York along the way (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan); all the places you are familiar with through watching TV, but which some you maybe would not have visited if ever in New York. In other words, very exiting.

 

Pre-Race Expo – Excitement (and tiger balm) in the Air

 

Race Day – Shivering Cold

Included in my charity spot was a bus to the starting area about 04:30 in the morning. I did not feel particularly tough jumping over poor homeless people sleeping by the entrance to my hotel in the morning or when I passed several fairly large rats while wandering alone in the dark in Manhattan, but I made it to the bus and finally we were on our way. Something else included in the charity experience was a heated tent, hot beverage and bagels before start, something that really saved my morning since I was freezing cold.

Right before the start gun went off, the speaker listed earlier winners of NY Marathon and when the Norwegian Grete Waitz was mentioned, I must admit I got major goose bumps; this was BIG!

 

The race itself was nothing but amazing. Even slow woggers like myself were cheered on with great enthusiasm and along the course we passed several iconic places seen on TV. The finishing line was in Central Park and I was all teared up when I finally got my medal after some exhausting hours.

Post-Race – Time for Sightseeing

In the days after the race, we were as usual sore all over, but we were able to do some sightseeing.

 

Central Park

Central Park is an amazing park in the middle of New York with a zoo (famous through Madagascar), lakes, entertainment, skating course, horses, joggers, tourists, and thousands of squirrels. I could have spent several days in this park, just exploring, but since we only had 1 day to our disposal, we chose to hire bikes to cover as much as possible.

 

Empire State Building

The famous 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, famous from movies like “Sleepless in Seattle” with an amazing view of New York.

 

World Trade Center /”Ground Zero”

The World Trade Center site, formerly referred to as “Ground Zero” or “the Pile” immediately after the September 11 attacks.

 

Hockey Match in Madison Square Garden

First time at a hockey game. Madison Square Garden was a fantastic venue, but kind of stupid that we were not able to buy beer without a passport; we were obviously old enough.

 

High Line Park

High Line Park is an elevated rail line turned park and is definitely worth a visit. Read more about it in a separate post.

 

Tokyo Marathon – A real struggle, but the Six Star Finisher medal is in the bag

OK, first a spoler alert; I MADE IT!!

It was March 3rd, after a terrible night with hardly any sleep, I woke up at race day at 5 AM, not exactly in top shape for 42.2 km. One look at the rain outside, and I was tempted to crawl back into bed and forget about the whole thing. But, we are after all doing this voluntarily, we have worked for it for several years an we have actually paid a small fortune to come here, so I managed to give myself a kick in the rear and get ready for breakfast.

When it came to transportation to the starting area, it was already timed perfectly by our group’s Tokyo-Transportation-system-whisperer, so we others really only had to meet up in the hotel lobby, walk to the next building (Tokyo Station), walk for a few more minutes without concerning ourselves with which direction to take and volià, there was our train and after a 15 min train ride we reached our destination.

The bib-number control and baggage check were done really quickly (have I mentioned how efficient the Japanese are?), so we had over an hour to kill before the run started. I choose to spend that time in a stair case, after a trip to one of the many outdoor toilets, which was quite an experience indeed. The most organized line ever, with a guy standing in the end of the line holding a sign saying the line starts here. There were also multiple persons actually telling which toilet to go to when it was our turn. Perfect system and no cutting in line..

Check out the line in the background.

Even if the lines seemed endless, I didn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn. One drawback, however, was the fact that these were squatting toilets and small, which made this 1.78m, 40+ year old with bad knees struggle so much that I almost fell over at one point. I did make it though, but a repeat visit was out of the question, so I made myself hold it in until the race was over and more comfortable facilities could be located.

One hour before my starting tine, I went to my starting block to get in as good as possible position. Tokyo Marathon practices gun-shot timing when i comes to cutoff times, and they are strict on enforcing those times. My starting block not crossing the starting line before 30 minutes after the gun-shot, made it a real threat that I might struggle with some of the earliest cutoff times, which I incidentally also ended up doing. It did not help either that I was, due to the heavy rain, both cold and soaking wet, so it wasn’t the most amusing hours of my life that marathon.

I must admit that the race itself was a struggle from Start to Finish and I was really hurting from all the long-runs I never took prior to it. But, I did manage to crawl over the finishing line in the end and was handed both the regular Tokyo Marathon medal and the big Six Star Finisher’s medal, the proof that I have made it through all the major marathons in the world (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo), something approx. 4000 have done before us, but only 36 Norwegians.

Something very uplifting during the race and which really made my day, was of course our anazing cheerleaders, running through town to cheer for us at three different locations. ❤️

So to sum up: rain and windy, soaking wet, painful race, but two more medals in the bag and afterwards we had our traditional champagne celebration. Since we were the among the 44 first Norwegians to achieve the grande Six Star Finisher medal and the first ones from our city, we made the local paper as well. With the title (for which I still object) “Considering our age, we are not in that bad of a shape…”. I mean “Considering our age????”. The picture did us justice, though….

Boston Marathon – the flu, pneumonia and vertigo, but at least I bagged the medal

Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the more prestigious to run. It is very hard to qualify, and they have very few charity spots. For us runners that are a bit challenged pace wise, the only option then is to pay a fortune to secure a spot through a travel agent. Since Boston is one of the Abbott World Major Marathon and we needed it to get the big, fat six-star-finisher medal, we were therefore very happy that we were able to buy our way in through Springtime in Norway in 2017, after 3 years on a wait list.

The training for the marathon was everything but perfect. The race is in April and in January I got the flu that lasted for a week and developed intopneumonia which I left untreated for a month. In the whole of February I had the cough of a patient with COPD still smoking 60 cigarettes a day, but in March I started on antibiotics and recuperated quickly. I managed 3-4 running sessions before I got ill again, this time from Ménière, a vestibular disorder causing major vertigo spells, fullness in air tinnitus and nausea. I could not move my head for the last days before departure, but suddenly, the night before our flight, I got much better, and started to pack my gear in a hurry to board the plane the next morning.

We were a group of six persons, where 4 of us where to participate in the marathon and we arrived in Boston on Thursday afternoon. I went straight to bed after check in at Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill hotel.

On Friday I woke up early due to the jet lag and I lay completely still,trying to check if the world was still a roller-coaster. Luckily not, so then I was ready to join the others for sightseeing. Boston is the lobster capital oft he world and since lobster costs as much as gold back in Norway, we ate lobster several times a day for the entire stay.

Oldest restaurant in Boston

On Saturday we went to a baseball match, which was very exciting, but a bit cold since it lasted for 4+hours the temperature was not exactly all that.

On Sunday we took the metro to Harvard and spent the day there hoping to grow some brain cells (spoiler alert; no such luck) before we went back for an early pasta dinner the night before the race.

On Monday, the weather suddenly turned, and we got temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The course was interesting, but with my lack of preparations, I had a hard time completing. But, I did it with a whole minute to spare before the time limit, so I did get my medal. It felt very strange jogging up the same path as where the bombs went off five years earlier.

Tokyo Marathon – Bib number and final preparations

We arrived Tokyo a rainy and windy Thursday afternoon, dead beat after only a couple of hours sleep on the plane. Since we expected to slide into a coma the minute we reached our hotel room, we decided to go directly to the expo to pick up our bib number.

The expo was about a 30 minutes drive away, so we had the reception call us two taxis. Neither of the drivers knew any English but we thought we were safe since we had written down both the address and the name of the place. Turned out we were not. The taxis took us to two different places and for our part we had to search for the place for a while before we found it, and on the way we even stumbled upon a a history garage, with a display of vintage cars.

When we finally reached the expo, we managed to meet up with the rest of the group, who had to climb a hedge to get there.

When it comes to the expo… On the positive side, going there the first day was a strike of luck, since there were hardly anyone there and collecting the bib number and free T-shirts did not take any time at all. The volunteers were also so enthusiastic, friendly and helpful through the whole process.

So to the sub-par parts, where the poor weather must take its fair share of the blame. The expo consisted of multiple tents about 20 meter apart and it wasn’t that much fun running back and forth between them. In addition there were deep puddles of water on the ground inside the tents due to the heavy rain, so we where soaking wet by the time we reached the exit. It was not exactly tempting to shop anything in these conditions, but luckily the main shopping stand was both dry and warm, so I was able to purchase a couple of running T-shirts (in size XL I might add, due to the bloody small Japanese sizes).

Since all four runners in our group are also eligible for the big, fat Six Star Finisher medal we had hoped to buy some Abbott merch on the expo (they had a huge stand in Chicago), but no such luck. Seems like we have to buy it from the online shop. But, it was great to see the Wall of Fame with the name of all about 4000 before us who have achieved this goal (running marathons in Berlin, Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo that is..), where only 36 are from Norway and only 14 are women (hey, when you suck too much to compete on time, you’ll have to find some other ways to compete in that makes you look good….)

It was so relieved being done with the bib collecting and on our way back to the hotel we got a crash course in the metro system of Tokyo. I wouldn’t say we nailed it, but at least we got home without too much hassle.

The race was a couple of days later, and I must admit it was with some sense of pride I wore the extra sticker below…