It’s race day on an annoyingly cold April morning for the Berlin Half Marathon. Time for skin-tight leggings, judging people for jogging way ahead of the starting line, and as always, runners desperately searching for a spot to squeeze out that final pee before the starting gun goes off.
(Not that I’d ever advise peeing your pants, but it’s especially imprudent with a cold wind smacking against whizz central, if you will.)
After milling about for a bit, we finally set off under the banners of some sponsor I’ll forget about tomorrow and made our way around the golden Siegessaüle for a concrete tour of West Berlin. Crowd support was as good as I’ve ever seen in a race with an almost constant stream of cheering, drumming, and general rock and rolling for the entire 21-kilometer route to give runners that much-needed sparkler up the ass to keep those legs moving forward. And mercifully, the blue sky deigned to indulge us with an essential dose of that fiery orb in the sky to help keep the blood circulating –– and dry off the shorts of anyone who couldn’t find that porta-potty in time.
Now I’m sure I was hardly the only one running, trying to do a normal thing at a time that is anything but, who was heartened to see that Ukraine solidarity was strong. I’m aware that displaying blue and yellow on top of one another do little in the grand scheme of things, but this being Berlin, I’m certain those people were doing more in their free time than just wearing the colors.
Also because this is Berlin, the scars of war remain plentiful, like Kaiser Wilhem Gedächnistkirche –– the memorial church left in its dilipidated state following a bombing raid in the Second World War –– and Checkpoint Charlie, a toursit favorite any other day of the week but on this day, blocked off for runners crossing over for a quick dalliance into the East to finish off the race with a sprint underneath the magnificient Brandenburg Gate.
Unfortunately the Ziel or finish line is just a scosche further, so you have to ignore the fact that your heart is about to leap out of your chest and push just one more time.
And that’s it! Done. Coming in at an hour 38 and 26 seconds. Possibly a personal best. I’m honestly not sure, but definitely good enough for the obligatory participation medal, to feast on a sufficient supply of bananas that would make Donkey Kong combust in a sublime symphony of simian orgasmic stupor, and it goes without saying, a victory beer.