BMW Berlin Marathon 2018

It was sheer luck that I got to ballot as a team with Zamzamiah or better known as Amie for the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018. It was a last minute opportunity and Amie submitted our ballot in November ’17. When I found out about winning the ballot in January, I was shocked. Never had I dream about winning the ballot, what more running at one of the the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

To prepare for the Berlin Marathon, I registered and ran for the Malaysia Women Marathon 2018 in March ’18 and Standard Charted KL Marathon in April ’18.

The Expo

I took a 15 hour flight from Malaysia and arrived Berlin on a Friday, 14th Sept, two days before the race. Amie who was already on a solo backpack travel met up with me that morning and we headed to the Race Expo.

There were many exhibits at the entrance; safety cars, displays of the medals from 6 major marathons, list of runners who have raced in the 6 major marathons and many more. I managed to scribble my name on a small spot.

  • Hijabi Finishers at the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018
  • Malaysian Finishers at the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018
  • Zamzamiah did her personal best!
  • The Race Band, the Medal
  • The cute Adidas cup
  • The entrance of Race Expo
  • BMW Berlin Marathon Expo
  • A drive by Adidas to reduce plastic cup use
  • The medal for abbott world marathon majors six star finishers
  • The medals of the six major Abbot marathons
  • Malaysian runners who are Abbott world marathon majors six star finishers

 

As we walked further, there was a checkpoint for runners. A few volunteers were providing race bands for runners. As we walked in further, we saw many booths of merchandisers and running organisers, mostly from Europe. The booth to pick up the race kit was at the very end but there was no queue. We were given our race number and timing chip swiftly.The queue to pick up pre-order finisher tee was already long and we waited patiently for about 30 minutes.

The Adidas booth was always full. Runners and visitors were busy purchasing the event tee. It was selling like hot cakes for Euro30 each. We came back to get more the day after and they were already gone. So do your shopping early if you see a good bargain. We picked up the adidas drinking cup that we could use for the race – in support of their effort to reduce plastic use.

Outside of the booth area were more car display, BMW hot-air balloons and an old plane.

The Race

On the race day, which was two days after, we took the train to the race area at 7:30am. The crowd started to build up. The flag off was done in 3 waves ; 9:15am, 9:30am and 10am.

 

At the start line, everyone was bumped up by the music. As the minutes get closer to the 10am flag off, some just loose their sweaters on the streets and dash.

It was a perfect day to run. The sun was out and the weather was simply beautiful.

The routes were nice and flat. I loved checking out the city on foot and enjoyed the crowd cheering and playing music along the way. I think there were close to a dozen of performers playing music along the way and outside of cafes. At 1pm we were told about the new world record set by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge at 2:01:39.

  • Putting on the Race Band at Expo
  • The main Expo Hall
  • The Route
  • All excited to start
  • More Halls
  • Scribble your name on it

There were many volunteers providing peeled and cut bananas & apples at designated water stations and later ultra sports energy gels.  You can choose to fuel up with water, hot tea and energy drink.

I was happy to be able to finish the 42.195km run with more than 40,000 other runners and receive the medal for my son. It was my worst timing, but I was grateful. I wasn’t in my best state of health.

Congrats to finishers & May the Abbot Major Marathons be with you!

Running at the 6th Malaysia Women Marathon

Ladies ran in tutus, colorful attires and all sorts of gears. But it’s not just the ladies, the male pacers ran in tutus too at the Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM). That was how supportive the men are!  Indeed there were more men at the recent MWM. After all, 18% and 26% of the finishers at the Half Marathon and Full Marathon respectively were men.

Ran the Full Marathon in this new design – a swimwear

Runners in Tutu

The categories at the MWM were the 5 km, 10 km, 21 km and 42 km. Ladies came to the run for fun and sisterhood. Many took advantage of the event to catch up with girl friends the healthy way. That was why, the 5 km category is the most popular, with more than 2,300 registered runners, followed by 1,700 runners for 10 km. I participated in the least famous category – the full marathon with 250 registered runners (including male pacers). 166 ran that morning and only 61 runners finished, and 74% of the finishers were ladies. Many were not able to finish their run, not because they were not able to finish within the cut off time, but was stopped at many points due to safety reasons. I was one of the unfortunate ones.

Info from MWM Organiser

The route

The route for 10 km, 21 km and 42 km were the same, only that the later two required more rounds. It was a loop of 10 km. Sounds pretty simple, but many didn’t know the 10 km route consisted of many inclines, one after another. That’s quite a challenge to offer to lady runners, but they braved through the ‘obstacles’ anyways.

Since all runners except the 5 km category shared the same route, we bumped into each other a lot. I was tired after 7 am after 3 hours of running and just watched the 10 km runners speeding away. As I went through the hills for the 3rd round, my legs were already in pain and looking at hills ahead was not encouraging. What came through my mind was crazy. I never hated running till that day. I felt my wimpy legs were back and that running was not for me. It was my worst run. I always enjoyed the races I participated in. The pain and hardship were expected, but this time, it was different. Going through hills one after another in 4 loops just killed my motivation. I was determined to finish the run anyways and reserved my energy to go through the hill for the last loop. When I reached the 3rd checkpoint, they stopped me although it was just 4 hr 30 mins only. The volunteers claimed it was not safe to run and that I could run at my own risk as they were not able to control the traffic. True – I saw no traffic policemen at all! I ran back to the finish line feeling devastated.

Moreover, the motorists need to be considerate and thoughtful in having some tolerance in supporting public sports event. We witnessed roudy behaviour of motorists wanting traffic to move at roundabout junction and honked incessantly. When the runners tried to explained, the drivers lashed out with bad words. Some motorists stopped and moved the cones so they could move. This shouldn’t have happened in a civil society.

3/4 of the Elevation for Full Marathon

I arrived at the Race Village looking at happy faces taking loads of pictures at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam. Everybody loved the medal! Congrats to all running sisters, looking pretty and sweaty always!

I had friends who finished the full marathon at previous MWM and said would run back again, but only for 5 km. Now, I understood why. The marathon was suited for elite runners. Three days after the run, only the 61 finisher names were listed on the race result page. I did not expect an e-cert from this race, but it was as if I didn’t even run.

Faces of Happy Finishers

The half marathon Finishers!

The half marathon finishers

We will finish our next Full Marathon, insyaAllah. More training required!

Supposed to be Nahsuhah's 13th Full Marathon, but unable to complete.

Supposed to be Nahsuhah’s 13th Full Marathon, but unable to complete.

Finishers get a bouquet of white orchids

Ever Supportive Running Ladies

What I like about this year’s run?

  • Plenty safety cones
  • Amazingly supportive and cheerful volunteers. They cheered for runners along the way, non-stop.
  • Many and supportive pacers. Amazing!
  • RELA volunteers worked hard managing the traffic at roundabouts and junctions
  • Many water stations
  • Route was shady
  • Lovely finisher items
  • Glamorous and colorful

Some key learning :

  • Physically go through the route prior to the race
  • Run long distance races at major running events
  • More hill training, more training
  • It is about the experience. Choose the one that pushes you forward

I ran in Nashata new swimwear design. Yes, a swimwear – i just felt like running in it that day! Till we run again! Woman Up! #pressforprogress

Note : Pictures are from MWM organiser, running sisters and Super Sergio