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Colin, one of our running Reps, shares with what it is like to be working behind the scenes at the 2016 BMW Berlin Marathon. We would like to say a massive thank you to Colin for sharing his blog with us & a huge congratulations once more to all of those who ran!
Day 1: Wednesday
I arrived via Schoenefeld Airport on a flight taking just under 2hrs from the UK. I selected a 6 day city travel pass to get me around on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn system – much easier! Upon arrival at the Novotel Tiergarten Hotel, I quickly introduce myself and said hello to the staff I met last year. After check in headed to Reception and sat with the Bookings Manager to ensure all the 124 Sports Tours International clients had correct rooms, and requests were met such as ‘Infant Cots’, ‘Room on a high floor’ etc. Then it was off to meet my colleagues at another Hotel (we use at least 4 Hotels at the Berlin Marathon!), for a Team briefing. Before the evening is over I take a quick trip to the new Expo venue at Station Berlin to note how to get there and how long it takes ready for tomorrow!
Day 2: Thursday
After breakfast I speak with the Conference & Events Manager to have a desk set up for me with a couple of display stands and a flip-chart. The Hotel staff are excellent and within minutes it is all there for me in the Reception area. This allows me to designate the desk as Sports Tours International, and to put up my contact details and essential Marathon information – very important! The most important information I need to put up is how to get to the Expo venue. I am in the Reception area officially from 09.00am to 10.30am and usually stay a little longer in case there are any early arrivals. Then I get myself down to the Expo as today is the opening of the Expo at 2pm. I arrive 15 minutes early but already there are queues. It is always good to hear so many different languages being spoken. The Expo is as one would expect – busy. A different kind of setting in an old former Railway station but pleasant and you can feel the excitement from the runners and visitors alike. Back at the hotel and I am on the desk between 5pm to 7pm and today there were a dozen clients that had arrived.
Day 3: Friday
Early breakfast again and on the desk again officially for 09.00 to 10.30am and 5pm to 7pm but as the majority of the clients begin arriving throughout today, I tend to stay around Reception to welcome clients that arrive. The main question is obviously ‘How to get to the Expo’! I found that many people take a picture of the directions I put up on the Flip-chart with their phone. If there is anyone who feels that they are unsure of the directions I am available to escort them there / back if they wish. I remind the runners to take Identification with them, their Race Registration Confirmation and not only get their Bib number but also the security wristband and timing chip!
Day 4: Saturday
Much of the same as Friday. I spent most of the morning at the desk and give directions to those taking part in the 6km International fun run (which finishes in the Olympic Stadium). I also advise that later in the day there is the Children’s Run and the In-line Skating Marathon taking place. I usually get lots of questions being asked about the actual Marathon taking place the next day.
I usually try to catch most runners over the Friday and Saturday but do advise on the noticeboard that I can do a Race Brief at 5pm if anyone requires it. I also put reminders onto the Flipchart advising ‘Remember your BiB, Wristband & Chip’, additionally I remind runners that breakfast is from 05.30am, and that getting to the Race Start Area in the morning there is two options. i) Take the S-Bahn for two stops (Bellevue then Hauptbahnhof) and a 10 mins walk………….or ii) The popular ‘Warm up walk’ to leave with me at 07.15am and take a casual 30mins walk to the Start Area. This is the popular option.
Day 5: Sunday
Breakfast from 05.30am and by 07.00am a crowd of runners has congregated waiting to leave with me at 07.15am. I do usually get asked by some the last minute if I have any safety pins for their BiB’ number and/or Zip ties for their Timing Chip – runners do lose them between the Expo and Run day. Yet again in Berlin it is another sunny day ahead. It seems that the Berlin Marathon is always blessed with a sunny weekend. Doing the ‘Warm up walk’ is a good way for runners to chat along the way with a common interest, get the sleepiness out of their legs and to calm any nerves. We arrived at the Start Area at exactly 07.45am and perfect timing for Entry/ Security, Gear Check and getting to the Corrals. At this point I take pictures of clients if I’m asked and wave goodbye wishing everyone a good and safe run. I then make my way to the Siegesaule (Victory Column) which looks directly towards the entire Marathon running field coming towards me at 09.15am start.
It is great to see the sight of 45,000 plus runners splitting either side of the Siegesaule, and I even have time before the last wave to get down to the Novotel Tiergarten Hotel, which is directly adjacent to the route the runners pass). I get several pictures from street level and the decking lounge on the 6th floor of the Hotel, and look out for any of the Sports Tours International Clients I’ve been looking after. The rest of the day for me is keeping my phone on just in case any issues crop up, and I also give my number to runners as a point of contact in case of any problem on the run.
I then start preparing to look out for ‘my’ runners coming back after completing the Marathon, and I like to see / know that all got back safely. I am on the desk between 5pm to 7pm to listen to their run stories, take photographs and deal with any issues that may have occurred.
Day 6: Monday
Today I have my last 09.00am – 10.30am session at Reception. It is nice to see clients that have had a good time in Berlin and pleased to have a World Marathon Major medal. There are always photographs being taken of new friends having been made and such a diversity of runners form places as far as China, Malaysia, Hong Kong that had booked with us. I thank the Novotel Tiergarten Hotel Staff for their excellent service and bid my goodbyes for another year & I cant wait to do it all again.
You can see photos from Colin’s time at Berlin via the Sports Tours International Facebook page here >>>
If you would like to make your own Berlin story from the eyes of a runner, we are very pleased to offer you a place to the 2017 BMW Berlin Marathon. Find out more here >>>
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