Is there anything better than a fall marathon? Ah the cooler temperatures, the excitement coming into the holiday season, the feeling of accomplishing something great right before the end of a calendar year. It is GREAT.

If you’re one of those folks going after the World Marathon Majors or have simply heard about Berlin Marathon and are ready to get that personal record on a flat and fast course…. GET READY. Berlin was my personal PR! It was a phenomenal experience. More to come on a race recap, but let’s start with first things first, the Race Expo.

Here are the 8 things you need to know before rolling up to the Berlin Marathon Race Expo:

Public transportation is free

The Berlin Marathon race directors are very focused on sustainability, and as such they give every racer a free public transportation card to use the few days around the race itself. I believe it is Thursday – Monday, but double check. It is highly unlikely you will be asked by authorities for card, but have it handy or screenshot it just in case. I’m sure the authorities see a bunch of folks in colorful running shoes and compression socks and just assume they’re here for the race.

The App is Critical

If you’re like me, I hate downloading apps. I try to have as minimalist a phone as possible, however the Berlin Marathon App had a lot of information that the website did not have. Read that again. Or at least it was harder to find on the app. Things like when the race opens, what stop to get off at, etc are all on the app. My spouse downloaded it as well from a tracking perspective and we both used it frequently the entire weekend.

The venue is fantastic

The expo takes place at the historic airport (Flughafen Tempelhof) in Berlin and while it isn’t necessarily central, it is a really cool structure in its own right. If you’re not into history, don’t worry. They have a ton of food trucks, old airplanes to look at, a massive hall of vendors, and eventually the packet pick up area. The atmosphere is great and even my non-running spouse had a great time walking around and checking it out. We recently watched Indiana Jones and there was an entire scene filmed in that airport!

You can get in and out (somewhat) quickly

I like to meander through packet pickups, however if you have time constraints, you absolutely can zip in and out. The distance you have to walk through the airport and the event hall is pretty long, but as long as you don’t get distracted by the vendors or shops you can get to the wristband and packet pick up part quickly. There was no line for me when I went on Friday afternoon / early evening. It is a different story if you want to pick up a pre-ordered finisher shirt or other swag.

Keep the wristband on

They weld a cloth wristband to you before you get your race packet, and you have to wear it for the race itself. If wristbands typically annoy you, you may consider doing packet pickup as late as you possibly can. It was fun to see all the runners all over town that Saturday before the race, the city was crawling! Even our fancy dinner on Saturday night had a few folks with wristbands. Some people liked the wristband so much they framed it with their race bib after the marathon, just a thought.

The best race swag is at the expo

Don’t assume you can find all the same race branded clothing online after the race. You have to bite the bullet and wait in line to get the exact sizes and colors of race swag at the expo or you may miss out on an opportunity to get it at all. Some folks looked at the length of the lines for the Adidas swag shop and skipped it assuming it would be easy enough to get later. Those same folks were all over the Berlin Marathon facebook group trying to buy beanies and race jackets after the fact. This is even more important for those that live out of country, as the shipping may limit what can be sent internationally after the race.

The line for pre-ordered finisher shirts is long

Why? I have no idea. For some reason this was the longest part of the packet pickup experience. Getting a shirt I have already paid for at registration. Hopefully the race folks fix this in a future race, but it took me nearly an hour of waiting in line to pick up my shirt. This area wasn’t open to the public, so my spouse had to wait on the other side of the fence for me to get my shirt and we were both over it by the time I popped out.

There are public and non-public areas of expo

This is likely to help with crowd control, but both the wristband area and the actual packet pickup my spouse could not accompany me through. He had to wait in the vendor/shops for me to wrap up before I rejoined him. Have a game plan with your partner on where to meet back up at each of these split points.

The pro move is to have your partner buy any race swag you want while you’re waiting for packet pick up and pre-ordered finisher shirt.

There are a TON of photo ops

The entire airport is decked out in Berlin Marathon signage, so you will have infinite opportunities both inside the venue and outside the venue to get some pictures with you and your bib. I didn’t want to wait in line for the more formal and staged photo op backdrops, so I had my spouse be my photographer in different areas that we didn’t have to wait for.

Any return marathoners have other pro tips to add? Best of luck on your race, and soon you will be a BERLIN LEGEND!!!

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Posted by:Allie

3 replies on “What You Need to Know Before the Berlin Marathon Race Expo

      1. LOL. I was told Chicago had better odds especially for 1st timers. I betcha the year that I apply to all three is the year that I will win entries to all three. 😉 But, I guess that would be a good problem to have.

        I considered an international marathon tour for London (to incorporate a trip to Spain), but it was so freakin’ expensive. Well . . . more expensive than what I’m was willing to pay for marathon.


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