by Pete Mackrell
Berlin 2015 was my 11th marathon. I really enjoy Berlin, it’s not for everyone because it hasn’t got the landmarks and amazing support of London, or the glamour and appeal of New York, but if you’re chasing a time there’s nowhere better. And there was one particular time people kept reminding me of: 2:34:43, that being Pete Watkins’ club record. But the truth is it wasn’t on my radar, I’d laboured to a 1:17 half only five weeks earlier, not exactly a confidence booster.
My training had generally gone well though so I lined up thinking a PB was possible. As per London, my strategy was to go through half way in 1:16:30 and hang on at that pace for as long as possible. In London I lost 5mins in the second half to run a PB of 2:38. I was hopeful that after some tweaks to my training I wouldn’t slow as much this time round.
The first half was strange, I wasn’t feeling comfortable and it took me a while to settle. But when half way was reached bang on target something mysterious happened, I started to feel better. My 5k splits remained consistent and I began to believe that something special was possible. I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the overall time so as I passed under the Brandenburg Gate I honestly had no idea what I was going to see. And then the clock came into view… what does it say… is that 2:33… no, it must be 2:35, I’m delighted with that… but it looks like 2:33,… IT IS 2:33! Cue the most blissful 20 seconds of my running life. The rest of the day is a blur.
There’s an irony behind all this. When I moved to Leighton in February 2009 I didn’t know anybody and I wondered what the hell I was doing here. I’d taken up running a year or so earlier and was sitting on a London Marathon ballot place (my first marathon) so I decided to go along to the local running club. On that first night, only about five people turned up and I almost didn’t bother introducing myself. But I did, and I ended up running around this strange new town with an older runner that made me feel very welcome. So I kept coming back, and the rest is history. That first night runner was Pete Watkins! Maybe he regrets being so nice to me now, but knowing Pete, probably not.
There were also four other members of LBAC showing off the purple and gold in Berlin. Katie Stanton is no stranger to marathons having completed a few in the past, but she ran excellently to achieve a PB of 4:53:24.
While Mark Haynes usually tackles ridiculously long distance races of 100miles and uses marathons as training runs, this time around he was actually racing. Mark struggled with the (relatively) short distance however, but still made it round in a 4:37:09.
Running a marathon is a great achievement regardless, however with a disrupted training schedule due to injury and 11 miles being the longest run in training, Laura Brine, completed a remarkable comeback and sped round in 3 hours 35 minutes. She is now preparing herself for the New York marathon where I’m sure she’ll be back to her best.
Simon Coombes is usually seen flying around the track and racing in shorter distances such as 5k, but this year he decided to attempt his second marathon, eleven years after his first. More than a decade later though and Simon managed to break his PB by 10 minutes finishing in a impressive 2:39:07.
Congratulations to Pete and everyone else to for some great efforts out there!