The Adidas Mi Coach team got in touch offering me a place in Berlin marathon in spring. I had not got a place in the ballot and am trying to tick off the World Marathon Majors – with Adidas looking after me all the way, how could I refuse?!
Me and three other lovely bloggers, Sophie, Kelly and Annie, headed out to Herzogenaurach, Southern Germany, a couple of days before the race to have a look around Adidas HQ. I know it might be a little hard to believe I’m being impartial, but it really was staggering. The site is HUGE. There is a ginormous gym, state of the art sports facilities, beautiful staff restaurant, nursery, swanky stylish buildings all spread out on a campus style plot in the countryside. We saw giant footballs, fountains, landscaped gardens, and relaxed happy looking staff who are encouraged to make full use of the sports facilities during their work day. We went inside the secret development centre where trainers take years to be developed. Clothes are relentlessly tested with state of the art equipment. There was a robotic football leg which could be programmed to kick at an exact spot in a goal “if the ball does not hit the exact spot, we know there is something wrong with either the football boot or the ball, so we start again” In here we saw a 100m track “we use the exact same track ahead of major athletics competitions to ensure we know how our products work on it”. There was a running robot (who can be programmed to sweat) in a climate chamber constantly being monitored. We went into the VIP inner sanctum, “Athlete Services” where Kanye and Pharrel have discussed trainer designs. And where top Adidas Sponsored Athletes get their bespoke kit fine-tuned (there is a mini factory on site so the athletes can leave it within the same day) It was just so brilliant.
Next stop Berlin.
The sun was shining and we had a whistle-stop tour of the city, sinking the odd beer or two to hydrate like the athletes we are. Food was consumed. Hipsters observed, many, many selfies taken, and a huge amount of hilarity ensued. Sophie, Kelly and Annie are my sort of girls. We were having so much fun we almost forgot there was a marathon to run. MiCoach had a surprise for us, they had arranged for a meeting with Geoffrey and Emmanuelle Mutai, two of the top marathon runners in the world. It was a real highlight to meet such modest and quietly confident runners.
Race day. The sun shone and 35,000 runners made their way through the organised chaos of the start. Kelly and Annie were running and Sophie (nursing a dodgy knee and an early flight) was chief cheerleader. Shaun was going to run with me, but we got split up in the thick crowd. 10 minutes to go, I started my Adidas Smart Run and decided I had to go for it alone.
Half a mile in Shaun somehow managed to find me! We ran round together. Berlin is pancake flat, but my goodness it was crowded. Pacing was tricky due to the volume of people running at various paces around us. I tried my best to stick to the blue painted line marking the exact 26.2 but we did a lot of crowd dodging. Shaun being the gent he is, dived into the drinks stops for me whilst I skipped around the outside of the cup-littered wet drinks stations. I have never felt so good running a marathon. By 20 miles I still felt fresh and unfatigued. It was game on to get a Personal Best time. At 22 miles I stretched my legs as best I could to bring home a negative split. The Brandenburg Tor marks the last 400 metres and it’s agonisingly concealed right up until it is only a short distance away. Upon seeing it I mustered up the best sprint finish I could to cross the line on 3:23:19. Happy Days!
Kelly also achieved a PB (whilst taking heaps of selfies and making videos for her mass of fans all the way around) and Annie brought home her first ever marathon looking so fresh crossing the line. We went out and celebrated very enthusiastically until the small hours of the morning. Upon waking up the next day it was tricky to work out what part of me hurt the worst, but it was well worth it.
This trip was supposed to be focused on the marathon. But when I think about Berlin marathon it’s not the race itself that springs to mind. I remember spending time with 3 superb girls, making friends with the wonderful MiCoach team and laughing so hard I cried. We spent more time laughing than running. This is exactly what running should be about. Sure the shiny medals and the good race times are great, but it’s really about the experience. It was a joy to experience Berlin with such a fantastic fun gang and making like minded friends. Berlin, I loved you. WUNDERBAR!
Thank you to Sophie, Kelly and Annie for the laughs. Adam (your turn next) Sophie and Emma and the rest of the Adidas MiCoach Team and once again Shaun, who sacrificed his Marathon time for mine.