Phil and Dee moved to Berlin a few years ago, fell in love with the place and we’re now heading out there to celebrate Dee’s birthday. What better place for my third and final trial run?
We arrive on the Friday and the idea is to do the run immediately so as to finish it before the festivities begin. However, it’s raining so hard that we have to postpone it. We use the unexpected free time wisely. A drink in the hotel with various members of the party and then currywurst and beers with Brian, Emma and Beas. A quick turnaround at the hotel and off to Phil and Dee’s lovely flat for the welcoming drinks party followed by dinner out and then one of those great bars in unlikely places that Berlin specialises in.
A poor attempt at a night’s sleep is followed by a brisk walk to the Reichstag for Saturday breakfast at the roof restaurant (superb) and a walk around the Norman Foster designed dome (also superb). We move on to a 2 hour tour of Berlin on circular six person bikes (yup, again very good) and then stroll back to the hotel. All great stuff – even if I’m hardly in ideal shape for the run. In fact I’m a veritable cornucopia of petty ailments.
There’s ground glass in my throat and my nose is running a lot more freely than any other part of my body (both courtesy of what the doctor subsequently tells me is a ‘back-to-school’ bug). My hamstrings are aching (failure to stretch after Wednesday’s 5k Your Way) and my back is locking up (no idea why). Liz, who made the right choice to go into marketing rather than one of the caring professions, rolls her eyes and confidently predicts that I won’t last beyond 11pm at the party tonight.
We catch the S Bahn to the Olympiastadion and my mind keeps casting back to images of the 1936 Olympics and Jesse Owens quadruple gold medal snub to Hitler’s appalling racial theories. It’s something of a thrill when we cross over Jesse Owens Allee on the way from the station to the stadium.
The run itself is surprisingly pleasant. A gentle downhill through the suburbs with wide pavements and lots of clear street directions so we don’t get lost. Liz drops out after 6km (so as not “to spoil her evening”) and I continue on into the Tiergarten, past the Victory Column and towards the Brandenburger Tor. The Tiergarten is a beautiful place to run in and, with no red lights to stop for, my pace increases to a vaguely respectable 4.55 for the last km. I hit 10 km after 54 minutes and 50 seconds and do the extra 200m to the Brandenburger Tor and Pariser Platz.
The Brandenburger Tor is magnificent and Pariser Platz is full of activity – performing musicians, a big circle of meditating women, Greenpeace activists. All looked down upon by numerous posters of Angela Merkel (who goes on to the win the German elections the following day.)
I check my emails and there’s one from my sister who’s just been to visit my mother. When someone you love has terminal cancer you’re desperate to hear that things aren’t deteriorating and, secretly, you’re hoping that there might even be a miraculous cure. But it sounds as if my mother is getting worse and her pain relief is being stepped up. After the elation of finishing the run, it’s an emotional walk down Unter den Linden to the hotel.
Date : 21st September, 2013
Time : 54’50”
Total Distance Covered to Date : 30 km