On the Saturday before the long 42 kilometre race through Berlin, runners gather traditionally at 9:30 a.m. for the Breakfast Run, to slowly warm up for the big race the following day with a short run. The approx. 6 kilometre warm-up course runs from the Charlottenburg Palace on Spandauer Damm to the Olympic Stadium – and whoever sees the great number of participants can easily imagine what it will look like on the streets of Berlin on the following day at the MARATHON.
There is a stage set up at the fence in front of the palace — the approx. 11,000 participants are greeted, cheerleaders animate the runners from around the world, some of whom arrive in costume and carry their national flags and signs from their clubs.
Many of them will run with white balloons that they received from the main sponsor, real,-, at the stage, while some lucky runners also received a commemorative t-shirt or cap from the sponsor.
Since 1983 in Berlin
The organisers initiated this fun start to the marathon weekend in 1983, following the model of the New York City Marathon. While it was started to help create a fun atmosphere for the foreign participants, it has now become a get-together for the entire running community.
In order to keep the Breakfast Run from turning into a competitive race, there are “brakers” at the front, who keep the pace easy while carrying international flags, singing, and starting “the wave”. The district mayor of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Monika Thiemen, sends the runners off.
The streets are blocked off, of course — at the start, everyone runs on the correct side of the road, but then the giant snaking group spreads out across both lanes, causing a minor traffic jam for those out driving. The local inhabitants lean out their windows, some still in their pyjamas, awakened by the music from the leading vehicle, and applaud. Most of the participants have their cameras with them or are wearing backpacks with their running gear, while numerous young mothers push their baby joggers decorated with balloons.
The stadium is in sight
A lurch goes through the participants when the silhouette of the Olympic Stadium suddenly appears on the Olympische Strasse – a photo opportunity for the family album. The course leads a little bit around the stadium before it goes down through the marathon tunnel, then suddenly through the marathon gate into the stadium—an impressive and memorable moment for everyone. The runners get to do a victory lap on the blue track, while music greets the athletes in the stadium – the venue of both the Football World Championships in 2006 and of the IAAF Track and Field World Championships in 2009.
Breakfast with lots of treats from real,-
Then the athletes go up the steps at the marathon gate, past the Olympic fire urn, for a view of the giant Maifeld field and the Glockenturm bell tower. The main sponsor has breakfast set up at the southern gate – Götz Röhl and Thomas Stramm, who are in charge of the breakfast, have set up gigantic amounts of food: about 10,000 apples, croissants, granola bars, yoghurts, bananas, coffee, and other delicious things.
The nice weather helps to set the mood for the more strenuous race the following day—after such a successful start, nothing can go wrong on Sunday.