On 26th September 2021, I finally returned to Berlin to pace the Berlin Marathon. I had planned on pacing Berlin in 2020, but this was not possible because of covid, but I was so pleased to be able to return in 2021 to run Berlin Marathon for the 5th time, and the 4th time as an official pacer. This race was the my 90th as an official pacer, of which 29 have been marathons. This was my 89th Marathon towards the 100 Marathon Club. The contrast each year at Berlin is amazing. In 2018 it was a hot year, but rained in 2019 (take a look at my Berlin Marathon 2019 blog HERE). This year was hot hot hot.
A number of things were different in the build up to the marathon. The obvious is the stress of getting everything sorted to fly. Ordering covid tests, having proof of vaccinations, ensuring you fill out all the correct forms, and then wearing a mask in the airport. All very stressful, but in fact the time in the airport was smooth and nothing to worry about. I usually fly out on Saturday morning, but this year I had to go to the expo, so flew out on Friday. I usually collect my bib from the organiser of the pacers in his club, but it was nice going to the expo for a change.
Once I had sorted everything out at the expo, there was one thing on my mind, my usual trip to get a Pork Knuckle and a Stein. I was joined by Akram which was nice to have company. After this early meal I went back to the hotel to watch a film, hydrate, and get ready for the Big day.
Before going to bed I made sure I had all my gear ready, with just my flag needing to be picked up in the morning. A restless night was not ideal, but can’t be helped. So I got myself to the start area nice and early. I was one of the first pacers to arrive and it was nice to get ready, and make my way to the start waves.
There were a few sub 4 pacers spread out amongst the blocks. I started near the front of wave 3, on my own. I was a little surprised to not see many other paver flags, as usually it is full, but this year many did not turn up until just before the start. I arrived in my start pen when it was pretty empty and that made it easy for everyone to come and find me, it also meant I had a good 90 minutes chatting to runners, talking about my pacing strategy, answering questions and calming nerves. It was great to see so many on the #funbus and it felt like normal again.
It was a long wait, and we danced danced clapped for wave 1 and 2 as they started, until it was are time. I gave my usual pep talk, coving any points of the course, and trying to reassure everyone. I do this in the hope that it gives everyone that little bit of confidence.
And before long, we were off. Such a beautiful race. The sound of thousands of feet running through Berlin is just amazing. We ticked off the km and I told everyone how we were doing every mile and km. What is great is when a group stays with you and there were so many happy smiling faces the whole way.
It was got so we made sure we took on board plenty of water. The water stations are busy and give water in cups, but they are frequent and very well organised, so this year it worked very well.
Gels were also given out this year which was good. It is probably one of the hottest years I have ran, which had an impact on a few in the group, but we had laughs, jokes, there was singing, for which I am sorry, but there was singing nonetheless.
Anyone who can endure that heat, and 26.2 miles of my entertainment, is a legend. At the end there were easily a dozen with me, and many more ahead and just behind. What a fantastic year, a fantastic race, and so happy to have paced the sub 4 marathon for the 4th time.
I think the smile says it all. To be honest, apart from the business, Berlin is one of the easiest races to pace. The km markers are on point, so every km I know I’m on track, and it’s flat. I always get carried away at the finish and speed up with everyone else. I’m not a pacer that slows at the finish to get a time closer to the mark, I run with my group and today my unofficial time is 3:59:36. Slightly faster than I would have liked, and of course I could have slowed down on the finish stretch to get 10 seconds slower, but it is a 3:59, and I had lots of fun on the #Funbus.
The finish at Berlin is one of my favourite. Walk and get my erdinger, or 4.
Then get my customary finishers photo before enjoying the beer.
It’s been a great day… and I hope to be back to pace the sub 4 #funbus next year, and every year whilst my body let’s me.