The Abbott World Marathon majors – my personal journey (Part 2 of 4)

By August 24, 2019 No Comments

Continuing his journey through the Abbott World Marathon Major Coach Pani talks about how he conquered the many courses. 

If you want to read the first part click here 


The Berlin marathon was the 2nd WMM in my personal endeavor to complete the 6 marathons. It’s a historic event that was 1st held in 1974 and is usually held during the last weekend of September with the start and end points next to the gorgeous Brandenburg Gate.

I registered through the Active Holiday Co. in May 2016 and once I received my registration confirmation, I started training by following the PaceMakers Full Marathon training schedule.  Since it is a flat course, I focused my training on speed, tempo, uphill, long runs, strengthening and mileage building.

As is the case with all marathons, the Berlin marathon is also broken into waves and blocks. It has 4 waves and 8 blocks.

Wave 1. Start time: 0915AM. Blocks A-E.

Block A: runners under 02:40:00.

Block B: runners between 02:40:01 – 02:50:00.

Block C: runners between 02:50:01 – 03:00:00.

Block D: runners between 03:00:01 – 03:15:00.

Block E: runners between 03:15:01 – 03:30:00.

Wave 2. Start time: 0925 AM. Blocks F – G.

Block F  : runners between 03:30:01 – 03:50:00.

Block G : runners between 03:50:01 – 04:15:00.

Wave 3. Start time: 10.05 AM. Block – H

This is meant for runners with a timing of 4:15:01 or First Time Marathoners.

If you have trained well for this race, achieving a new PR is fairly a given considering that the course is flat. I got to Berlin 3 days prior and did a few easy runs to acclimatize myself.

Prior to the race, each runner is given a timing chip which is to be tied to your shoes and you can have it as a keepsake on paying a nominal amount.

Race day.

The one thing that really stood out for me was the atmosphere at the start line which was absolutely electrifying. At the start line, you could see all the runners lined up in their respective Blocks (A – H) moving their legs and hands to keep themselves warm and wishing each other good luck for the race ahead. You could also see the introduction of the top Elite runners displayed on the big screens in each block.

The weather on race day was 14°C and was quite pleasant at the start but began to get warmer towards the end of the race. I started my race from wave 2 and maintained a constant pace from the start as per my plan. I was running to a nice rhythm and was feeling great with each passing kilometer. At 35K mark, I felt my hamstring was going to give me trouble, so I slowed down my pace and somehow pulled through to finish the race in 03:33:04.

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The Tokyo Marathon was included in the AWMM series only in the year of 2013. Until 2018 the Tokyo Marathon was held on the last Sunday of February but now it’s held on first Sunday of March.

2017 saw the 11th edition of the Tokyo Marathon and one of the highlights was its new course – “New Way New Tokyo”. About 36,000 runners (10K included) took to the streets of Tokyo.  The race start point is near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office and finishes at Gyoko – Dori in front of the Tokyo Station. The new course lets runners pass through the wonders of Tokyo’s past, present, and future. The Tokyo Marathon 2017 Expo was held at the Tokyo Big Sight 3 days and a place where you can meet and interact with runners from different parts of the world and also get the opportunity to see different brands displayed.

A day before the actual race – the Tokyo Marathon Family Run and Tokyo Marathon Friendship Run were held at Ariake (finish area until 2016). The Tokyo Marathon aims to be the world’s safest marathon. To bolster security along the new course, each of us were given security wristbands and extra cameras were installed along the route. These wristbands are tied to your wrist at the expo while collecting your bib. There are mobile BLS (Basic Life Support System) & AED (Automated External Defribrillator) units stationed every 500mts for any emergencies. They were around 10,000 volunteers to ensure the event was safe, clean and extremely friendly and hospitable people right from taking care of your baggage at the start and finish areas, providing food and water, collecting trash, helping to control crowds and offer help if required in different languages.

Like any other WMM, spectators are lined up along the length of the course holding placards to cheer runners. A “Marathon Fiesta” was also held to encourage the runners which featured street side music, dance and traditional folk performances. The fun and the buzz in the air kept runners moving. It is this friendly atmosphere that makes Tokyo Marathon very unique. This marathon has gained popularity worldwide after it became part of one of the 6 WMMs.

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I gained entry to this marathon via the official tour operator- Active Holiday Co. and arrived there 3 days ahead. I went for a run to get a feel of the place and the weather. I must confess it was pretty windy and freezing cold. The temperature on race day was 9°C at the start but became warm by the time I could finish. The start is at Shinjuku and volunteers were there to help the runners find their respective colour-coded baggage counters and entry gates. I went to the orange baggage check area mentioned on our bib to deposit my bag. The security wrist bands were scanned at the entry gates. We had sufficient closed and open mobile toilets present at each entry gate.

We had to wait for 30 minutes at the start area before the race could start. Each of us, was given a timing chip which had to be tied to the shoe. At 9:05 local time, the wheelchair race was flagged off and Tokyo became part of the first AWMM to have a wheelchair series. 10 mins later, the marathon and 10K races were flagged off. The first 5 kilometers was downhill and then the course becomes flat except at few places with a slight elevation. It is an out and back run near the 20K and 30K mark for almost five kilometers and you can see runners running on both sides. I was running very fast the initial 25K and paid the price for it later. The aid stations were very well stocked, and the volunteers were immediately clearing the used cups thrown on the roads and were also holding the plastic bags for the runners to dispose of their thrash. The roads were very clean throughout the course. I finished at 03:41:35 and had to walk almost 1km to collect my baggage and take the bus back to my hotel. I must admit that the organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job with the event and it is without a doubt one of the well-organized events and one should run this race to experience it.

To read Part 3 of this amazing achievement click here.

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Kothandapani K C

Kothandapani K C

Kothandapani KC (aka Coach Pani) is the head coach at the PaceMakers running club and a marathoner himself. He believes that his "biggest strength for success lies in the four D’s -Discipline, Dedication, Determination and Devotion".