As with all Major marathons the expectation for Berlin was very high and it definitely lived up. In typical German fashion I felt the entire race experience was run efficiently and allowed for the runners to take full advantage of the experience.
Sign up was simple. I was fortunate enough to have a time that allowed for automatic entry which removed the stress of the lotto system. The overall cost was much lower than the other major marathons. Part of that was a race shirt was optional with sign up. I liked having the choice of purchasing some 'swag' ahead of time. During packet pickup you can avoid the mess of the official gear tent and pick up your items easily in another location. However, it felt wrong having the choice to buy the FINISHER shirt beforehand. I wouldn't want to jinx it.
Entrance to the corrals the morning of the marathon couldn't have been easier. I was able to jog straight to my corral, hang around outside of it until about 10 minutes before the gun went off then easily walked right in and took off. I'm still trying to figure out how it was so easy for a race of 40,000. I could never image that happening at the Chicago marathon.
The start of the race was awesome, running through the Tiergarten. Overall, I thought the scenery was nice. It provided a nice tour of the city. It was quite an experience when you would realize you're crossing where the Berlin wall once stood. For a Major, the crowds were a little thin but I thought they were consistent along the entire course. Although they might not have been as deep ever as a Chicago or New York I thought the crowd support was present the entire race which can't be said for those previously mentioned races.
The sports drink was very salty and not very pleasant, on top of that it was always offered after water so if you drank it the taste was stuck with you until the next station. That would probably be the only complaint I have for the race.
Finishing running under the Brandenburg Gate was great and the post race snack bag had everything you needed. The medal was also pretty cool with the german flag colors for the ribbon.
Overall this was a great race and lived up to the high expectations that come with being a Major. The race is as flat as advertised and on our day the weather nearly perfect. I can see why fast times are typically run here. I will be back!