Report by Jamie Harding
The Berlin Half Marathon was an opportunity to combine a race with a holiday, where Allison and I received excellent tour guidance from former Claremonters Tanja and Nick Cooper. It was also my first overseas race – unless the Dumfries Marathon or the Jedburgh Half-Marathon fall into this category. Nick and Tanja announced before the race that they were going to run for fun and this was evident when we saw them on the way to the start: they had decided to combat the cold weather by wearing wigs in red, yellow and black (for Tanja) and red, white and blue (for Nick). Tanja’s was the larger of the two wigs, providing a metaphor for the contribution of the two countries to the European Union.
With 40,000 runners due to take part, the organisation had to be excellent and, indeed, it was. One slight difficulty was that runners had to find their start positions from the back so, before the race started, I had to try to force my way through the crowds from the E paddock to the B paddock, with Nick and Tanja making the slightly less demanding journey from E to C. As I nudged, swerved and squeezed my way towards my starting position, I saw a very relaxed Nick and Tanja, who had discovered the same task could be achieved with only 1% of the effort by stepping outside the crash barriers and then back in again.
But all this was forgotten when the race started in ideal conditions, with the weather having become slightly less cold at just the right moment. There was plenty of encouragement, drinks and music along the way but not much fancy dress – apart from Tanja and Nick, I only saw one pink rabbit and one man whose yellow and black checked trousers may have been fancy dress or simply a manifestation of very poor dress sense.
I was surprised and delighted to finish the race in 1.35.23 – a similar time to the one I had achieved at Jedburgh several years earlier. I decided that there were two possible explanations for this:
- I had sipped at the goblet of eternal youth.
- Berlin had less hills, gusty winds and stretches of road without any spectators.
Nick and Tanja were also very pleased with their time of 1.56.45. I don’t know whether it was this time or their fancy dress, but they were seized by a newspaper reporter for interview as soon as the race had finished. In the paper the next day, Tanja was quoted as saying that conditions had been ‘tropical’ (which was a joke) and ‘our times get better each year’ (which she hadn’t said at all). It just goes to show that, if you want to know the truth about races, you should continue to look at the Claremont website rather than the Berliner Morgenpost.