2016 Berlin Marathon Expo + Good News + Spectating

December 1, 2016

This year the Berlin Marathon Expo also known as the Expo BERLIN VITAL was held at the Station de Berlin.  In previous years the expo was located at an old airport hanger (which looked so cool). I am not sure why they changed the location, but Station de Berlin is much closer to the city center.  Here is an excerpt from their website for a little history 101: 

The history of STATION-Berlin begins around the same time as the birth of Thomas Mann, the great German author. The grand opening of the Dresdener Bahnhof took place on this site on June 17, 1875. The station was the starting point and destination of the new Berlin – Dresden – Berlin railway line, which was 12 kilometers shorter than the old connection. The station served trains headed to Dresden as well as the through-coaches continuing to Vienna and Prague.

Source: Station Berlin 

Under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the site was rededicated in 1907. Thereafter, it served as the Postbahnhof, supplying Berlin for the next 90 years with packages and goods imported from throughout the entire world. During the postwar period, when Germany was divided into East and West, the train station attained special significance: it was the end stop for one of the most important arteries that connected West Berlin to West Germany. 

There were three opportunities to attend the expo.  

  • Thursday Sept. 22, 2016 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Friday Sept. 23, 2016 11:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday Sept. 24, 2016 9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Cliff and I decided it would be fun to pick up my bib even though I was not running + I wanted to make sure my champion timing chip was returned so I was not charged.  I debated whether to attend the expo Thursday or Friday afternoon (earlier = less crowded), but decided on Friday after our half day city tour.  Marathon Tours arranged to have our group dropped off at the expo, which was really nice.  I made sure I had my passport and Berlin Marathon start card with me – which was sent about 2.5 weeks before marathon weekend.  Marathon Tip #1: Make sure you check you spam folder.  

Entrance to the expo! 

Where do we go? 

This is where I had to split from Cliff (different from Chicago and New York). He was allowed to go into the expo area, but could not accompany me to the bib pickup section.  Marathon Tip #2: If this happens to you, make sure you designate a meet up spot because the expo is crowded and there is no free wifi. 

Once I entered the building I was given a wristband so I had access to all things marathon.  How cool is this machine? The cloth wristband was on top, I slid my hand through the band, and the machine secured it for me.  

So bright and airy! This was a long hall.  I was confused at first because the booths did not have numbers corresponding to my bib number.  Where should I go? 

Turns out I could get in line anywhere (as long as it said running because they were also distributing the bibs for the inline skating marathon). Marathon Tip #3: Walk towards the back of the hall, there were plenty of booths with little to no lines.

Now onto the cool part. How did they distribute bibs without assigning numbers to particular booths? The volunteer scanned my start card and my information appeared on the screen.  I verified the information was correct as she looked at my identification. 

Here is the best part….they print your bib right there!! Cool, right? The only weird thing is the size of the bib – it is huge! 

After I picked up my bib, I went to the information area to find out where I could return my champion chip.  The volunteer delivered some surprising news.  She told me I was likely eligible for a medical deferral.  What a what?! I had no idea this existed.  I was directed to the medical area in the expo area and they had a doctor on staff to assess if a runner was eligible for a medical deferral.  I was taken behind a curtain where the doctor could exam my foot.  I also gave him my paperwork from Georgetown Hospital.  “Yeah you can not run” and he signed off that I could receive an entry for next year. Woo hoo! I did not expect that at all.  I returned my bib, chip and wristband to the staff. 

The expo was large (spanned a few rooms), but was too crowded for my liking.  I ran into Sheena, which was nice meeting her for the first time.  You may have noticed I did not pick up a race shirt.  The Berlin Marathon entry does not come with a shirt, it is an add on which you can pre-pay in advance.  I was told there would be plenty of merchandise at the expo (there was), so I did not pre-pay for a shirt or jacket. I’m glad I did that.  

Everyone was given huge plastic bags when we entered bib pickup area.  It came with body wash, sponge (you can carry it with you during the marathon) and beef jerky.  I had no idea Adidas was in the body wash business.  

The Berlin Marathon was held on Sunday September 25.  Several of my Oiselle friends/teammates were running, so I let them know Cliff and I would be cheering for them around the 38K mark, which happened to be outside our hotel!  We had a free breakfast everyday at the hotel, so we snuck a few alot of bananas back into our room for the marathoners.  

When we left the hotel for spectating, we saw this nice set up for the runners. Bananas, sports drink, water, and oh of course… beer! I thought that was a really nice touch. 

We walked around the corner to our cheering spot and I realized I forgot the bananas.  Cliff ran back to the hotel to get them so I wouldn’t have to walk more than I needed to.  It was bittersweet to watch the runners near the 24 mile mark.  I teared up a little bit thinking I should have been out there (well…technically I would have been at the half way mark at that point haha).  I composed myself and watched the runners go by – for a stretch I knew all of them would get BQ times.  

I saw Torrie, Lena, Sheena and Tami.  Spectating was fun and tiring!  I thanked Cliff for spectating two marathons.  He must get super tired when he spectates because he meets me 3-4 times along the course.  

Watching a World Major Marathon was inspiring! 

Bananas anyone? We successfully gave away all the bananas we hoarded.  

Next up, my travel recaps! There will be four of them 🙂 

Bananas on the course – take them or leave them? 

Have you received any fun items in your swag bag recently? 

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    1. It looks like you had a great time at the expo, and yay for the medical deferral. I know it’s a lot harder to actually *use* a deferral since the race is out of the country, but it is a nice gesture and something many races should do. This is coming from another injured person who had to defer a race she signed up for less than 2 weeks before the date. It’s great that you still went out and watched and cheered too, sometimes when people cannot run they just avoid all things running related for awhile. It’s good you were able to enjoy the trip!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks, Amy! The deferral was a nice surprise and gesture. Luckily I have a good amount of points, I am going to use that entry 🙂

    1. It sounds like a really well organized expo! I love that the bracelet allowed you to go to any line and they could print your bib. And how great that you could spectate right outside your hotel 🙂 I’m sure the bananas were appreciated by runners!
      Chaitali recently posted…Friday 5 – things I’d buy againMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        It was really fun passing them out. I was a little more successful than Cliff haha. It was nice the bracelet was cloth rather than the plastic material.

    1. This is so cool! What an unforgettable experience. Interesting that the race didn’t come with a shirt. I do tend to think that we Americans “coddle” ourselves a bit too much and we feel entitled to stuff like that, but it makes more sense to let the race participant choose.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        I agree! If it keeps the cost down a little bit, that is nice to have (I will need to research, but I think Berlin is less than Chicago and New York). I wonder how they compare to London and Tokyo.

    1. It looks like everything was really well organized, and while I am so sad you were not able to participate I am glad you still went, cheered, and enjoyed the experience.

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