Sunday, September 25, 2005

Marathon Day!

As someone who loves watching marathons (even when Katie is not competing), today’s 32nd running of the Berlin marathon provided the normal race day excitement and a taste of the unusual!

The first question of the day was what to yell!? Normally being a loud American is something to avoid in Europe. But how can you not yell at a marathon? The most common phrases seemed to be “hurrah” and “bravo,” though the crowd was not nearly as loud as those I have experienced in the States. What did seem to be very popular were noisemakers—horns, whistles, and clapping sticks. I kept thinking that my mom would fit in very well with her cowbell! Fewer people wrote their names on their shirts, which also made cheering somewhat more difficult. In the end my standard “GOOD JOB, YEAH, WOOHOO” seemed to do the trick!

We (3 other fellows and I) started the day at the 13K mark. At that point, 15 or so men were still running very close together. Mizuki Noguchi, of Japan, had a commanding lead in the women’s field. She was trying for a world record and was running strong. Next, we headed to the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful squares in all of Berlin. There we met up with Matthias and watched the runners come through again. The men’s field had spread out considerably (39K mark) and Noguchi was still way ahead for the women.

We ended the day at the finish line, which was about 1K away from the Brandenburg Gate. Not only was it visually stunning to watch thousands of runners stream under the arches of the city’s most famous landmark, it was amazing to realize that just 15 years earlier, the Brandenburg Gate stood in the death strip behind the Berlin Wall. It was a small, representative reminder of how far Germany and democracy has come!

Now for the more unusual (for me)…
In terms of general marathon observations: the finishers’ blankets were not metallic. What’s up with that!? (Uncle Dave, please comment.) Also, my biggest beef was that the water cups were made out of hard plastic, which posed an accident risk because the runners could not flatten them.

And of course, the finish line area was lined with wurst and beer stands, a fair amount of cigarette smokers and pop music. Though the cigarette smoke was unacceptable, everything else added a great Octoberfest atmosphere to the day! The beer was just for the spectators, right? Wrong! It did not take long before race-blanket wearing runners could be seen stretching and cooling down, beer in hand (see pictures.) Maybe Torsten was being serious when he claimed drinking a liter of beer after exercising replaced vital nutrients (see entry about Cologne!)

What a fun day! I can’t wait for Boston in the spring!


At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Berlin Marathon, how cool. As a Boston veteran, now you just have to skip over to Amerstdam and London next spring and you'll have out-experienced all of the Taylor marathoners in major way.

I can live without the mylar blankets, they are kind of a pain and aren't really that warm. What was the material of the Berlin blankets? (by now I've lost anyone with a minor interest in the comments of the commeters). But, plastic cups are a real no-no in my opinion and they appear to be the wrong size too. And, smokers in the finish area, jeeze!!!!!

Your apartment looks great. Glad you're doing well.


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have to dust off my antique noise makers for our next marathon!!
Maybe in Germany they collect those plastic cups and recycle or reuse them! Disposable is not environmentally friendly. Remember the first time we used paper plates when Matthias stayed with us....he couldn't believe we would just throw them in the trash after dinner! Love Mom :)

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so jealous (of you and the runners)!!! What an exciting day!! Interesting observations... and the fact that you noticed them makes you an official running geek :)
Beer at the finish line... maybe we could convince more Americans to exercise if that was their reward ;)

Rennen macht spass!!


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin, I love your descriptions! You should write a column or something for a travel magazine or book! You should talk to Christina about this -- you really have a way with words! Anuradha

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous aloha beach said...

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