After running his first marathon our guest writer Laurent sat down to share his experience at the run with us, as well as the program that Nike hosted in their Home of Running where he lead a panel talk with the founders of some of Berlin’s biggest running communities.
“Are you running the Berlin marathon?” This is probably the question I have been asked the most in the last 3 months. When you are a runner, running a marathon is already one big thing. Living in Berlin and running the Berlin Marathon is THE thing!
This is not just another race. It is the race! It is incredible to see how the city changes from the week prior to this big event. Runners from all countries are invading the city and bring it to life in a different way! Streets, parks, cafés, runners are everywhere, getting their last kilometers before the big day! The atmosphere and enthusiasm around running have been growing so much in the past years. And Berlin has definitely played an enormous role in shaping the running culture.
Running is no longer only seen as a performance sport only, rather as a lifestyle and a culture on its own. Running in Berlin is all about the experience of being part of a community, a crew, a group. Running has become accessible to the mass and it’s great! Running teaches you discipline, inclusion, respect, self-confidence by overcoming fears and challenges. All great values that can be applied to your life outside of sport.
Despite my love for running, a marathon has always seemed impossible to me. I got offered a spot early September and I really got so excited and so scared! I know how much training for a marathon takes and with only a few weeks to go I know how big the challenge would be. Part of me wanted to turn down the invitation and another part of me was like “ok – that’s a sign, your first marathon should be the Berlin one”. Cause yes, Berlin like no other city has been the place where I discovered the greatness surrounding running and gave me the chance to become part of its community, its lifestyle, and its culture.
Preparing for the marathon got me to discover even more about the different communities within the running scene, spending time with various crews and attending various events. One such event that happened in Berlin on the marathon weekend was Nike‘s Home of Running that hosted an array of events and activities including panel talks, training sessions, recovery treatments and more.
A notable experience from their program was a pre-marathon “carb load” dinner. Prior to the race day, your last dinner should be all about carbs! Great news right? Well, this time we had the chance to be served 3 courses made by three chefs in the open kitchen of Kitchen Kartell. Reinviting 3 classics Risotto / Pasta / Banana Split and turning them into made to measure pre-marathon carb load with a refined touch of Italian homemade cuisine. The homemade spaghetti with chickpeas sauce was a highlight as well as their crispy roasted banana with homemade vanilla ice cream served with fudge. An evening where you can really have an unlimited amount of carbs!
Now that I was loaded with carbs I was ready for race day! The energy level is so high that nothing can stop you! This entire week was clearly all about running. And I believe for people who are not running, the energy was contagious. Despite the heavy rain conditions, the crowd was intensively supporting! Bands playing, strangers, family, friends everywhere. The support was amazing from the start until crossing the finish line! The famous km 37 is where most of the running crews are cheering and running through it give you all you need to run the last 5kms. And this energy clearly kept me going until the finish line.
“You’re a marathoni now” a short sentence that makes you feel part of something even bigger. An experience that you just shared with 47 000 other runners. That’s clearly something amazing about running a marathon is that we are all aiming for the same goal, crossing the finish line. No matter what, no matter who you are! For me it wasn’t about the time rather about the journey, kilometer by kilometer, to experience the fun, the hype, the struggles, the ups and downs, the pain, the support.
When crossing the finish line it is hard at first to realize that it is over, that you made it! I clearly wanted to celebrate but the idea of getting into a warm bath and put on dry and warm clothes was too high. I had to go straight home and order as much pizza as I could.
Luckily for me, the next day, I could enjoy special marathon treatments that Nike had organized in the heart of their Flagship Store in Kudamm. Nike has always been supporting the running scene and this year together with the Charité they set up the „Home of Running“ in their store with the best pre and after race recovery services on an elite athlete level, providing the best recovery treatments and exercises as well. Many runners who took part in the marathon were given the chance to receive massages by a professional physiotherapist as well as cryotherapy. Recovery is an essential part of marathon training as well as a post-marathon routine and these treatments definitely helped me recover from the greatest 42 km ever!
After the recovery, I had the privilege to be invited by Nike to host a panel discussion for iHeartBerlin about the local running community with two of the main running crews in Berlin: Kraft Runners and Wayv Run Kollective.
Kraft Runners have been founded in 2016 by Marco Pruefer and Niko Zeigert and has become a driving force in the Berlin running community. They host a weekly run every Tuesday from their own Café Kraft which is “All about a good vibe and good people!”
Wayv Run Kollektiv was created earlier this year by Daniel Marin Medina and Thị Minh Huyền Nguyễn. Being in Berlin after living in New York, they wanted to bring something unique about their vision of running, their vision of equality and inclusivity which led them to create the first running community that aims to elevate LGBTQI*, BIPOC, WOC, and underrepresented bodies.
We spent an hour at Nike’s Home of Running discussing the marathon experience as well as the impact that running has nowadays on shaping a city’s culture. The positive impact that such an event and the support of a brand like Nike has and how it brings people together is really priceless.
KR and WRK clearly represent the great values of running, its lifestyle and culture. While running is always an opportunity to meet new people, have a good time and achieve new goals. These collectives can also develop the mindset of athletes while creating their own spirit of a team, fair play and bringing pushing themselves and others to reach new heights of self-improvement. Not only have they become two of the most popular running crews, but they are also families, role models and their influence have crossed the borders of Germany as they are often traveling the world to spread their love and message.
2020 has promised to be another great year for running! And Berlin still holds the Marathon World Record, so thank you Berlin and its people for making running such a great part of our lives!
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Text: Laurent Petit
Laurent is the founder of Music On Walls, a project dedicated to the promotion of visual arts inspired by music. Through his passion for art and running he created the Urban Art Run Project together with a running app, Runlive. His latest venture is the charity program Active Giving.