It’s almost that time again! Last year I had the incredible experience of completing the Berlin Marathon. And although I hit a PR, I still made a lot of mistakes. Factoring those initial struggles into my training, I recently developed a new course strategy for the 2020 Berlin Marathon.
But because I have experience with the in’s and out’s the race, I thought I’d also answer the most frequently asked questions, to save you the trouble and stress of having to figure everything out yourself. After all, you have a race to focus on first and foremost, and I don’t want you stressing about hotel accommodations, registration, or…anything really!
A little bit of information on the Berlin Marathon: The race itself is beautiful and takes you through historic Berlin–you will run through the Reichstag, the Siegessäule, and Berliner Dom (among other notable locations). All of this culminates in the amazing final moment when you finish the race and run through the Brandenburger Gate.
Answering Your Questions About the Berlin Marathon
If the upcoming Berlin Marathon is your first marathon, I’d invite you to quickly check out my marathon running tips as a refresher before the magic happens in September.
If you are ready to go, have been training diligently for months now, have no clue what the Berlin Marathon entails, or are just plain curious, this guide is for you. Let’s review some of the information about the Berlin Marathon to minimize any surprises from arising when you arrive in Germany. The first question is this: what is the actual date of the race?
When is the 2020 Berlin Marathon?
The Berlin Marathon is on Sunday, September 27th, 2020. Just check out the countdown on the Berlin Marathon website for the exact timer. There are other mini activities and a mini-marathon on Saturday the 28th, but the main event is on Sunday.
And first-time travelers from the states, just a reminder: make sure you get your passport and traveling arrangements finalized if you haven’t yet.
How to Enter the Berlin Marathon?
You can enter the Berlin Marathon through a few different ways: registering as an AIMS-Certified fast runner, registering with a charity partner, tour operator, or if you are over 18 years old, through the lottery system.
You can find a general overview of these different methods for entering the race here. Just click on the icons and navigate the information on registering. Or better yet, read along and I’ll provide the information below!
Is Berlin Marathon a Ballot Entry?
The Berlin Marathon has a ballot entry for 44,000 runners over the age of 18, but it’s not the only way to get a spot in the race!
To enter the lottery, make sure you register directly with the Berlin Marathon. In accordance with the Abbot World Marathon Majors Series, they use an entry drawing procedure–This is a lottery system to determine who will be running.
The registration period was from October 17 to November 7, 2019. So, for those who registered within the standard lottery system, you most likely received an email which told you if you made it in or not.
For those who missed the deadline, don’t fret! You can still get a guaranteed race entry to the marathon by partnering up with the sponsored charities of the race. This means getting in touch with Real-Buzz or the other charities that are involved.
Can You Qualify for the Berlin Marathon?
Yes, you can qualify for the Berlin Marathon by registering as a fast runner. First, though, you need to have finished an AIMS-certified marathon in the past 2 years. In addition, you need to have finished within a certain time depending on your age group.
Male runners who are between the ages of 18-44: the time for a marathon needs to be under 2:45 hours. Those who are between the ages of 44-59: the time is 2:55 hours. Age 60 and above need to finish within 3:25 hours.
Female runners between the ages of 18-44 need to finish under 3:00 hours. Ages 45-59 need to finish under 3:20 hours. And those who are 60 and up need to finish under 4:10 hours to qualify.
How do you prepare for the mile markers?
Welcome to Germany my friends. Forget everything you know about miles and feet. In Germany you’ll find kilometers and meters. So there won’t be mile markers. Instead there will be a marker every kilometer.
Mentally this might throw you off a bit, but it shouldn’t. Focus on your watch and keep in mind the main distances like 10K, 20K, Half Marathon, 30K and so on. Here is a map, where you’ll get a good overview.
Is the Berlin Marathon Flat?
The Berlin course is extremely flat. This is a big reason why so many records are broken during this marathon. Because the terrain is easy and so flat, it is the fastest marathon in the world.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should take the course lightly. A marathon is a marathon after all. But relatively speaking, for the bigger marathons in the world, the Berlin Marathon has easy terrain.
Why is the Berlin Marathon so Fast?
The course itself is fast because the geography is flat and easy to traverse. In addition, September is a pretty comfortable period of time for Germany weather. This means that the weather is generally pretty pleasant during the Berlin Marathon. And as you guessed it, this can contribute to faster completion times.
Lastly, there are not a lot of sharp turns and twists throughout the race, meaning that it’s less difficult than many of the windier, twisty marathons out there.
How Large is the Berlin Marathon?
The recorded distance for the entire race is 26 miles, 385 yards. And although it is flat, and the course doesn’t wind and twist all that much, it is still a complete marathon. Train accordingly and don’t underestimate it!
How are the crowds in Berlin?
Even though this is a relative question, I will try to answer it as polite as possible. I ran New York City before running Berlin. Everyone who is lucky enough to run New York will tell you that the crowds in NYC are the best. Just don’t go to Berlin with the same expectations. I felt like my fellow Germans liked to watch the race, so there were definitely spectators along the entire course. There were just not as hyped and excited as you would experience it in New York City.
Who Won the 2018 Berlin Marathon?
Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record last year in the 2018 marathon. Before him, it was Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) in 2016 (in Berlin as well). I remember that someone was holding up a sign after I crossed the finish line that said: “New World Record: 02:01:29”
When Does the Berlin Marathon Start?
The BMW Berlin Marathon website delivers the key time tables for each event: from the mini-marathon on Saturday to the actual marathon start. According to the website, it starts at 9:15 am on that Sunday. Runners will start in waves from A-G.
Important note on the corrals: Make sure to bring your previous Half Marathon or Marathon results with you to the expo to start in a corral according to your pace. In Germany, there is no record of the paces you ran in the United States which makes them automatically move you into corral G. If you have a time goal and don’t want to get stuck behind 6h + marathoners bring all your records with you when you pick up your bib.
What are they giving out at the Fluid Stations?
Get ready for some warm tea guys. Yes, during the Berlin Marathon they offer water, tea, I saw coke and fresh fruits like apples and bananas. Some of my fellow adidas runners didn’t like the concept and taste of the tea but I enjoyed it. It kept my stomach calm while hydrating.
Please bring your own gels and everything else you’ve been training with. Germany doesn’t have most products we use in the States. You’ll avoid the hassle of looking for it.
Where is the Berlin Marathon Expo?
The expo itself is located at Flughafen Tempelhof, Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Berlin. Be sure to save the address! This is in the now non-operating Berlin Tempelhof Airport. If you haven’t been to the airport, the event is really pretty fantastic. You can take great pictures of the old runway with the airport in the background.
Here is all the information you need about the Expo itself. Condensed down to the most essential bits of information, the pre-race expo time tables are as follows:
Thursday: September 26, 2019: 2:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.
Friday: September 27, 2019: 11:00a.m. – 8:00p.m.
Saturday: September 28, 2019: 9:00a.m. – 7:00p.m.
This is taken directly from the Berlin Marathon website. And as they state, it’s free for all participants and actually is a pretty cool event to check out. You will want to go to obtain your race kit as well.
Can You Defer your Berlin Marathon Entry?
Yes, you can defer your entry! Let’s say that you get injured between registering for the race and the actual training for the marathon (which is very common, by the way). You can defer for the next year.
After all, it’s pretty difficult to qualify as a fast runner of the marathon. And if you aren’t registering through a charity, you are hoping to get lucky enough through the ballot. Deferring means you are guaranteed a spot at next year’s marathon. You still have to pay the entry fee, but mostly you will get a €30 discount off the next entry fee.
Just keep in mind that most hotels and tour operator packages are non-refundable though.
Where to Stay for the Berlin Marathon
The 10 closest hotels to the Berlin Marathon can be found here. But of course, you will need to make sure you book your hotel or Airbnb far in advance. You will want to stay in Berlin Mitte to be near the starting line.
If you are wanting to save money though, you can always book a place farther out, but you’ll have to take a cab to get to the starting line. So that’s something to definitely keep in mind!
Best places to watch drink after the Marathon
After running the marathon you deserve a good German beer, wine or whatever you’d like. The best areas to go out in Berlin are Berghain, Kreuzberg, and Mitte. There are tons of restaurants and bars both in and outdoors to enjoy a great after-marathon-drink. To name a few please check this website.
How to Watch The Marathon
For spectators, there are plenty of places and vantage points to observe the race. Consult this map for key locations: the spectator stands near the finish line, as well as meeting points for family members in the family reunion area.
You can also watch catch some live broadcasts of the race itself if you would rather beat the crowd and stay in to watch the race.
Video about my Berlin Marathon experience 2018
Good Luck at the Race!