I decided to treat myself and my daughter (6yo Miss G) to a European holiday to celebrate turning 40.  During the planning stages a friend told me he was going to run the Berlin marathon to celebrate his 50th birthday, and as I’d never been to Germany I told him we’d come as his support crew.  I kept telling people I couldn’t run because I was travelling with Miss G (secretly though it was a good excuse as I’d never had the desire to run a full, the idea of running that far just sounded crazy to me!).

As time went by I discovered 4 friends from my local parkrun would also be running the marathon so excitement for the trip was really building!  10 weeks out my sister (who lives in Amsterdam) told me she had decided to meet us in Berlin for the weekend.  Suddenly I realised I had someone to watch Miss G, and that if I was standing on the sidelines I just knew I would have regretted not giving it a go.

I managed to get a late entry and had 10 weeks to train!!  I made a schedule and aimed to run 70km per week (4 runs, including ‘1 long run’).  It was hard to manage as a single parent (big thanks to my parents and sister for helping out), I just did as much as I could and tried not to get too worried about it if I had a week where ‘life’ got in the way of training!

Race day came, nerves were enormous, I felt worried that I didn’t have much a plan.  To be honest I had no idea what to expect and wanted to enjoy the experience, rather than put pressure on myself.

MJC and clare

Running with 40,000 people was amazing, the crowd support the whole way was phenomenal, there were bands, DJ’s, performers, and loads of people making a lot of noise in the streets of Berlin!  I finished in 3:40.17, with a negative split.  I felt so accomplished and still had fuel in the tank, so perhaps could have run a better time, but overall I wouldn’t change a thing!

Here are my tips for MARATHON TRAVEL:

  • For long distance travel, plan to arrive 2-3 days before the event.  Do an easy 5km run the day before race day to relieve jetlag and any residual swelling in your legs
  • Take a water bottle on the flight to avoid dehydration.  You can’t take water through airport security so you will need to buy some at the departure lounge
  • Take your race kit (including shoes) & bib collection info in your hand luggage, in case your luggage gets lost
  • Take compression tights on the flight, and change into them as soon as you take off
  • Stick to your usual diet as closely as possible before the race.  I took my own breakfast cereal, and stayed in self-catering accommodation so I could cook dinner the nights leading up to the race (extra important for me as a coeliac!)
  • The day before the race, take a trip out to where the race starts so you know exactly where to go in the morning, and how the public transport works
  • Don’t wear headphones during the run – I was worried about not taking my own music, but there is so much crowd support you really don’t need it.  Besides, with your name on your race bib you will miss the thrill of random strangers cheering you on!
  • If you have family travelling to support you, pre-arrange a spot on the course for them to wait otherwise they will never see you.  Scope this out the day before.  We arranged a specific intersection near 10km and my instruction was to stick to the left as we didn’t know if both sides of the road would be open or only one.  It may be easier for you to spot them as their eyes will be fatigued from seeing so many faces flying past!
  • If you’re anything like me, run with a hanky, you’ll be an emotional blubbering mess, especially when you see your family ☺berlin

I certainly never intended to run the Berlin Marathon, but I am so glad that I did, and can’t wait for my next opportunity to run an overseas marathon!!