When: Last Sunday in September
Where: Tiergarten Park
How: 40,000 runners are offered a spot through a lottery
We flew to Berlin via Frankfurt. If anyone has any doubts about the friendliness of the Germans or their English abilities, I have to say that you do not have to worry. When we went through security at Frankfurt, my bag was flagged for “TNT”. It was put off to the side to be inspected by the airport security and Frankfurt police. While I was waiting (and chatting with the police about the Marathon), my boyfriend’s bag was the next to go through the scanner, and the next to be flagged. The police joked by asking what we are doing in our house, and my boyfriend responded by telling them I am vegan. Fortunately, they laughed.
We arrived in Berlin a few days before the race (in the middle of Oktoberfest). We stayed at the Hotel Indigo in Alexanderplaz. The hotel was nice and had a buffet breakfast, but if I were to return (for the race or anything else), I would stay closer to Hackescher Markt or Gendarmenmarkt.
The first thing we did was a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike (http://www.fattiretours.com/berlin/). This was a great way to explore the city and plan out our next few days before the Marathon. In the late afternoon, we went to the race expo. We were directed through a lot of booths before reaching the registration tables. This was frustrating as I really wanted to get my registration package before casually browsing vendors. There was also a crazy line for any of the “official” marathon clothes. I strongly recommend pre-ordering them or skipping the line altogether and browsing through the “store” for other gear. Also, if you are visiting the expo with kids, there are plenty of activities for them to do.
That night, we went to Cookies Cream (http://cookiescream.com/cream/) for dinner. I strongly recommend this fun vegetarian restaurant. You will feel very special as you access the restaurant via an unmarked door in an alley behind the Western Grand Hotel.
The next day, we went on a tour of a concentration camp, Sachsenhausen followed by a walk around Kreuzberg, dinner along the river, and drinks in the TV Tower (potentially overrated, but nice).
On Saturday, we went to the Kollwitzplatz Market. I really enjoyed this market and the area. We went to LPG Biomarkt to pick up a few things and I found some great jewelry at Tom Shot (www.tomshot.com). That night we had a great pre-race meal at Engelbecken in a cute area called Witzlebenstrabe.
It was easy to get to the start of the race using public transit. As usual, there were well marked pace bunnies. I do recommend trying to walk just outside the corral area up to your start area because if you try walking through the corrals, people will block you (or at least that’s what happened to me and I found I had to sprint the first bit of the race to try and catch up to the correct pace group). I enjoyed the race route. We started at the Victory Column and also finished there shortly after running through the Brandenburg Gate. The course itself was relatively flat, but had many turns through a variety of neighbourhoods, past tourist attractions, and with a lot of spectators throughout. My only issue was that the walk to the family meeting spot (and past all the beer tents) took quite awhile and I was quite sore. As soon as I got out of the race area, I found a hill to stretch on before boarding the S-Bahn back to Alexanderplatz. That night, we had a great German dinner at Aplenstuek (www.alpenstueck.de); well known for their bread.
Monday was spent hobbling around the museums with post-race legs. We went to Monsieur Vong for dinner and really enjoyed it (get there early as you cannnot make reservations).
Berlin is a beautiful city to explore by bike or foot.
Other restaurants to check out:
- Dolores Burritos
- Veganz Supermarket
- Arleo Deli
- Cafe Neumdrei
- Bistro Bardot