Unless you avoid all running-related news like the plague, you probably know that Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge set a new men’s marathon record of 2hr 1min 9sec at the Berlin Marathon on 25th September 2022. That time broke Kipchoge’s own record of 2hr 1min 39sec, set in Berlin in 2018.
In fact, the last eight times the men’s record has been broken, it’s been done at the Berlin Marathon, a run that stretches back to Paul Tergat’s time of 2hr 4min 55sec in 2004. It’s fair to say that the Berlin course is a fast one, but that’s just one of the reasons it’s such a brilliant marathon to take part in. Here’s everything you need to know about the race.
When is the Berlin Marathon?
The Berlin Marathon traditionally takes place in late September. The 2023 event will be on Sunday 24th September.
What’s the Berlin Marathon course like?
I ran the Berlin Marathon in 2022 and the course is as fast as everyone says. The flat route helped me achieve a PR for the marathon. You start and finish near the Brandenburg Gate and for the most part the course winds around the city center in a clockwise loop.
It’s a course made up of long straights with few turns to slow you down, and while there are some small uphill sections they are barely noticeable. You also get a handy slight downhill from around 28km to 33km that can help you keep your pace up at a point where many runners struggle in a marathon.
Runners pass beneath the Brandenburg Gate just before the finish, which I see as a special and slightly disheartening moment. Special because passing through a landmark like that during the marathon is a great experience, but disheartening because you don’t see the finish until you're through the gate—and it’s a little further away than you might expect!
How do you enter the Berlin Marathon?
Entry is yet to open for the Berlin Marathon 2024, but based on past editions it will be via a lottery late in 2023. Around 45,000 people take part in the event and it’s always oversubscribed, so keep your fingers crossed if you do enter the ballot.
Prices for next year’s race are yet to be announced, but it cost €163 to enter the 2023 Berlin Marathon. Along with your race entry, you get four days of free travel on public transport if you get a spot.
If you miss out on a place through the ballot you can enter via a tour operator. I ran Berlin with Marathon Tours and Travel, which secured my spot and hotel for the event. You pay a premium for this, but it guarantees entry and makes life easier. The operator always provides useful advice for when you’re in Berlin, such as how to get to the expo and the race start, as well as putting on group events like a shake-out run and a pasta party.
Fast runners can also use a past marathon time to secure a place in the Berlin Marathon. The qualifying times for the 2023 event are below, and you’ll need to include digital proof that you’ve run in that time within the past three years on your online registration form.
• Up to 44 years old: under 2hr 45min
• Up to 59: under 2hr 55min
• 60+: under 3hr 25min
• Up to 44: under 3hr
• Up to 59: under 3hr 20min
• 60+: under 4hr 10min
Is there water available on the route?
There are regular water stations along the Berlin Marathon route, but when I ran it in 2022 water was available only in plastic cups. These are harder to drink out of while running than bottles, so either slow down and practice your sipping technique, or be prepared to splash water all over yourself and get only a little into your body at each drinks station.
What time does the Berlin Marathon start?
The first starters at the Berlin marathon are the elite handbikers, who begin at 8.50am, followed by the wheelchair competitors and non-elite handbikers at 8.57am. Runners begin at 9.15am and are broken up into four waves to reduce crowding in the early stages of the race.
How to get to the start of the Berlin Marathon
The Berlin Marathon starts on Straße des 17. Juni, between the Brandenburg Gate and Kleiner Stern in Tiergarten. The best way to get there is either on foot, if you’re staying locally, or by public transport, especially as your race bib entitles you to free transport in Berlin for four days including race day.
The nearest subway stops are Friedrichstraße (U6) and Potsdamer Platz (U2). The nearest S-Bhan stations are Hauptbahnhof (S5, S7, S75, S9), Potsdamer Platz (S1, S2, S25), and Friedrichstraße (S1, S2, S25, S5, S7, S75, S9).
When I did the race I found that the subway and S-Bahn weren’t running all that frequently on race day morning and I ended up walking quite a long way to the start instead because it was quicker. If you want to avoid those extra steps on marathon day, give yourself plenty of time to get a train.
What free transport do you get at the Berlin Marathon?
One of the best perks of your Berlin race entry is that you get free public transport for four days in fare zones A, B and C. In 2023 this runs from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 September. On race day you can just show your race bib to get free transport, and for the preceding days you will get a ticket. More info on how to get and use that will be in your starter’s information email, which is sent out mid-September.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.