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Berlin Inline Marathon...

So I did the Berlin Inline Marathon the other week! 26 miles of nonstop speedy skating joy.
God damn, it was amazing.

About 8000 skaters altogether, most of them on proper professional speed skates (the ones with small boot bits and huge wheels) and dressed in head to toe lycra, with cycling helmets on. I had been pretty intimidated by this at first, as I was of course in my sexyass Hypnos (although with the chassis modified to fit 84mm wheels instead of 80mm) and just wearing baggy shorts and an army style camo skating helmet.

Just before the marathon Before the marathon, with Simon Libidex


So anyway, off we went... the first few miles were really hectic because it was still hella crowded with skaters all jostling for position.
If you haven't been in many big group skates before, all this is bloody terrifying because you have to spend the entire time making sure your blades aren't about to get caught in someone elses, resulting in a big painful fall at speed and probably taking out several other people too! Luckily I'm very experienced in fast, cramped group skating from the Friday Night Skate - so I know how and when to keep my feet straight and narrow and keep my speed up. Some others weren't so lucky, and I saw a few falls, including one right in front of me who I had to pretty much jump over to avoid swerving into someone else's path. Also, one woman lost control around the first tight corner, and grabbed at me, which would have sent me flying if I didn't have decent balance.

Anyway, having got out of the thick of it and overtaken all the slower ones, I just remember really, really enjoying myself. It's such a unique and beautiful experience for someone like me who skates 10 miles a day on the crowded, car packed, smelly, badly maintained, bumpy, dangerous London streets. These Berlin roads are literally flawless - smooth as silk, massively wide, only the gentlest hills* here and there, and lined with spectators most of the way around, which made it even more fun. Little kids were by the edge of the road, holding out their hands in excitement, wanting a skater to give them a high five as they went past. I got a few, it was so cute.

The only problem was, I had no watch, and there was no way of knowing how far along the course I was. I never really gave it my all because I didn't have any concept of how far 26 miles really was on a course this sexy, with not one traffic light or reason to slow down. I was just gliding along beautifully fast, loving the experience of the total skating freedom.
I ate some energy gel packs. Then I wished I'd brought more water along, because there were only 3 water points, and I'd just missed a drink due to the water being handed out in flimsy plastic cups which just crumpled into my skating glove palm on delivery at 15mph and ending up all over my hand instead of in my mouth.

Me near the end, taken by me, at speed Perfect Berlin roads


And then suddenly I saw a marker saying 30km and for a second (like an idiot) I thought it meant 30km left to go, before realising I was actually 3/4 of the way round the course! I'd been thinking I was more like halfway round, that's how fast it was.
And then I hammered it, realising I had heaps of energy left due to thinking I had longer left than I did! I just sprinted and sprinted, overtaking group after group of skaters up ahead, teams in matching shirts, even some semi-pro paceline packs of people drafting one another**.

The last km or so was amazing. Just incredible. The streets were lined with crowds, yelling and cheering, there was a band somewhere near the end, playing one of those awesome drumming beats which just spur you on and give you this massive sporting rush, and the nearer I got to the end, the faster I went, the more people I overtook. When the Brandenburg Gate loomed into view, the adrenaline and competitiveness just overtook me and I was flying. I have a vague memory of the announcer saying something in German as I went past (and what a sight I must have been, all in black with an army helmet and little fitness skates, manically overtaking all these freaks in fluoro lycra with 100mm wheels) and the crowd making a kinda laughing cheer.

Coming through the gate and over the finish line almost brought me to tears. I have no idea why it felt so emotional - there was my obvious tiredness, the adrenaline, the beautiful landmark that was the end of the race. I've not done anything this sporty and public before, not since I used to ride my horses in shows back when I was a teenager. I loved it, skating is something I'm passionate about, and this was just the ultimate skating experience.

Then I just kind of rolled forward with the other skaters, got handed a medal, got handed a yellow bin liner to keep me warm, then came past a series of tables offering us various liquid refreshments, which I downed in a daze while rolling to the next table. First water, then energy drinks, then juice, then Red Bull, then warm tea, then finally, at the end of the path, a little bar giving out free beer. Wonderful stuff. There was also a big field full of little beds (so surreal) where you could go to get a massage off a massage school student (which I took advantage of, although it was rather mediocre!)



silveraj Just after finishing!  With medal and warm yellow sack Andi is all proud of silveraj silveraj In front of the Reichstag with my Hypnos

Finally I found Andi, who I've never seen look so happy to see me (he was almost crying!) and we wandered back to our apartment, stopping on the way for me to literally inhale a large crepe.

My finishing time was 1hr 45min, which I was thrilled with - it meant I'd been going at least 15mph all the way around. I came 213th in my age group (25 to 30 I guess)

It's just such a shame there's nothing like this in London though. There's a big track on the outskirts of London on which you can technically do a marathon, but I find the idea really soul destroying - skating round a track for x number of laps with my amazing memories of what Berlin was like. I suppose it would be ok if I just considered it training... but at the end of the day I'm just crazy about street skating, with all the adventures that entails.

The rest of the (short) Berlin trip was great - I guess it mostly revolved around food, sleep, massages from Andi, and visiting the Jewish Museum. But I'm totally doing the marathon again next year - probably in my new speed skates which I need to get training in this year in order to be prepared to try and do it in 1:30...

Oh - you can see the rest of my Berlin photos here (public FB gallery)...


* Hilariously, I was talking about the course with a German guy at the fitness expo the day before. He's like, "Oh, eees very smooth most of the way. There is only one or two little mountains..." which caused me to snort as I tried to hold in a massive wave of laughter.

** This is how all pro skating teams operate by the way, skating in sync with no wind resistance - and even non pros do it a lot in marathons, just finding people their speed and latching onto the back of them, matching their stride. I tried it several times in the race and kept getting impatient and overtaking. For some reason, having someone directly in front of me makes me feel like I'm skating slower than I would if they weren't there, and it spurred me on to speed up and leave them behind.

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Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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verona
Oct. 13th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
holy shit that's awesome!
silveraj
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Theres inline marathons in the usa and canada as well - I'm totally planning all my future holidays around inline marathons!
honeypossum
Oct. 13th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
sounds brilliant, I'd wondered how it had gone!

do you know what the winning time was?
silveraj
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Just over an hour I think! All the people under 1:15 were world class pros in teams...
(no subject) - ext_207860 - Sep. 22nd, 2009 10:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ext_207860 - Sep. 22nd, 2009 10:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - silveraj - Sep. 22nd, 2009 11:15 am (UTC) - Expand
miss_soap
Oct. 13th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
Bravo you!
kirstenlj
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading that. Well done!!
apiphile
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh my, that looks like *so much fun*. Well done you!
volksjager
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
One of the things that most impressed me about Berlin/Germany were the street. smooth as glass and not a blemish on them. I was watching the history channel late one night while working. The progam went into the fact that American highway grades only go down 4 feet. German ones on the autobahn, 14 feet...
silveraj
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
That's WELL interesting! I bet London highway grades are only about 3 inches, lol.
names0fthedead
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
that looks like enormous fun :D
ashbet
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
It's wonderful to see your joy and enthusiasm and sense of accomplishment -- so glad you had such an amazing time!

-- A :D
sor_eye_ah
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
!
(no subject) - silveraj - Oct. 15th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
psi
Oct. 13th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Wow that is quite an achievement, well done!
metallikat
Oct. 13th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
If you can wait 10 months, I'm planning to do the Goodwood roller marathon next year and would be happy to give you both a lift down there if you like :)
silveraj
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD that looks awesome. Oh my god!

Scrap what I said about skating round a track - I want to skate 62 miles!!! WOW.

Yes please to that lift. That's going in my gcal right now :-)
sor_eye_ah
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Wow that sounds so amazing! Grats you for going along. Next year again?
the_freaky_z
Oct. 13th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
glad it all went well :) sounds like you had fun
silveraj
Oct. 15th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
I need to bring your files back!!! Can prob bring them one lunchtime next week... When are you moving out tho?
x
(no subject) - the_freaky_z - Oct. 16th, 2008 06:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - silveraj - Oct. 16th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_freaky_z - Oct. 16th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
cyka
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
OHHHHHHHHHHHH I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!

seriously, that is so great, i was really hoping to hear that it was a fantastic, emotional, exhilarating experience for you. both for you personally and because i'm 3 months away from my marathon and scared to death for it.

you're officially my new inspiration.

and holy fuck, well done on the time!! that's awesome!!
silveraj
Oct. 15th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
omg the icon! Hahahaha!!! <3
Oh god, that is just too much - your inspiration? Puhhlease! Skating is piss easy compared to running - I couldn't run one mile, let alone 26. You're quite obviously the fitter and more motivated out of the two of us!!

Where and when is your marathon?
x
Re: omg the icon! Hahahaha!!! <3 - cyka - Oct. 16th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: omg the icon! Hahahaha!!! <3 - silveraj - Oct. 16th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: omg the icon! Hahahaha!!! <3 - cyka - Oct. 16th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
silveraj
Oct. 15th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Why thankyou... and you appear to be looking studlier by the day! I always enjoy your photos :-)
acardart
Oct. 15th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
when i was in Berlin last year we watched the Inline marathon. It was amazing, even in the rain!
silveraj
Oct. 15th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
I was terrified it would rain - I'd bought special grippy expensive wheels and everything! But it was sunny, and now I'm using the wheels to not fall over on the slippery London streets when it's wet and I'm going to work :-)
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