The Berlin marathon is one of the most renowned events in the running community. Attracting over 40,000 runners from all over the world, Berlin is home to the fastest marathons (seven out of ten fastest results are from Berlin). The current world record was set in 2018 by none other than Eliud Kipchoge and his 2:01:39 performance. And I was to spend five days in such an inspiring place—a great start of the year!
I arrived in Berlin on Wednesday evening. It was rainy and dark, but the temperature was pleasantly high for January. From the moment I stepped out of the train, I was itching for a run. After unpacking and greetings, I put on my running gear and headed out for an easy 30-minute shakeout run.
I’d never been running in Berlin before, so I got lost almost instantly (thank god for the GPS!). A 30-minute run turned into a full-fledged easy run of over 6 miles. But that didn’t bother me at all: my stride was so fresh and bouncy that I couldn’t stop or slow down. Running at 5:00/km, I felt almost no exertion and my heart rate stayed safely in zone 2. It was wonderful. I wanted more, so I topped the run with four 15-second strides.
When Excitement Wins
The next day I had a 7-mile easy run planned. But I had a bad night’s sleep, and as a result, there was no sign of yesterday’s springiness left in my system.
Midway through, I was struggling mightily, even considered shortening the run. I had also lost my way again and couldn’t get to the park I had been looking forward to exploring. Soon enough, however, I found solace in the city surroundings. As an ocean of people of various nationalities rushed after their errands in the morning traffic, I felt my energies come back.
I ran faster, drinking the sight greedily, enchanted by the spectacle. The opportunity to be part of an international hub where stories, emotions, and languages clash to create an inspiring experience of metaphysical proportions was electrifying. I finished those seven miles happy and satisfyingly tired.
The Much-Awaited Long Run
The real running treat was scheduled for Friday, with a 12-mile long run. I can’t think of a better way to explore a city as big as Berlin other than by going for a long run 🙂 And so after gulping down two glasses of water, I put on my compression socks and went out.
Outside, it was warm but rainy. I started my journey with the now-familiar Karl-Marx-Allee, building up speed as the city center loomed a couple of kilometers away.
My destination was Tiergarten, an enormous park famous for the Brandenburg Gate that plays sentry to the entrance. I ran westward, hypnotized by the buzzing city and its historical buildings. On the menu along my route was the Reichstag, Berlin Cathedral, Berliner Fernsehturm, Berlin Palace, and numerous other breathtaking buildings. I devoured all those delights with the appetite of a marathoner post-race.
And finally, the Brandenburg Gate began taking shape on the horizon, marking roughly one-third of my course. Brimming with lofty emotions, I dashed under the famous construction.
I crossed the street to start my 3-mile sojourn in the northern part of Tiergarten, which as it quickly turned out was a bad idea—the true beauty of this place lies in the southern part. Realizing my mistake, I crossed the Straße des 17. Juni, a busy street that separates the two parts. Luckily, as I was crossing, I managed to sight the Victory Column, which I had completely forgotten about 😉
Once in the Grosser Tiergarten, I was immediately taken by the soothing scenery. All around me plenty of small blue ponds scattered the sprawling land. I was soaking all that up as a thirsty traveler downs a can of coke. It didn’t matter at all that I was now dripping wet and covered in mud. The sense of freedom and the overpowering feeling of being in the right place at the right time flooded my heart with a concoction of wholesome emotions.
Tiergarten is usually infested with runners, but I encountered only two during my jog, which I ascribed to the weather and the season—many parts of the park were undergoing off-season maintenance and were closed off.
Running back, I went through the Brandenburg Gate again, thanking this beautiful place for the experience and vowing to come for a run here again in the future.
On my way back to the apartment, I went slightly off course—I wanted to run through Alexanderplatz, to add another prominent Berlin place to my runseeing agenda. Even though I now had over 10 miles on the dashboard, I was overflowing with joy and energy. I was actually so happy that I felt like celebrating this run with a tempo mile, so I dashed forward, jumping gracefully over the occasional puddle.
Bidding My Goodbye
The last run was an easy six-miler scheduled for Saturday. This time, I itched to explore the southeastern part of Berlin, where Treptower Park attracts local runners.
The route to Treptow park from my apartment turned out to be very easy in the end 😉 Two kilometers in, I was already running by the Spree River, with the remnants of the Berlin Wall to my left. Treptower Park was just across the river. There were runners everywhere here! Inspired by the atmosphere and so many different people, I finished the run with six fast strides 🙂
I never thought I would like running in a big city. But more often than not, the colorful and varied crowds had an energizing effect on me. And while I don’t know how I would feel about it if I were to live here, I can honestly recommend Berlin as a running destination—even if only to score a few very satisfying days of running.