The marathon spans over 42.195 km, and is set up throughout the city. The course begins and ends at the Brandenburg Gate, and passes from Charlottenburg into Grunewald Forest and through Mitte to Friedrichshain, finally looping around to Schöneberg and back to the starting point.
In terms of both participants and spectators, it is one of the largest and most popular road races worldwide. Over 40,000 people participated in last year’s marathon, and the runners hailed from 107 different nations. There were also over one million spectators for the race. Before 1990, however, the course of the marathon was restricted to the area of West Berlin.
The Berlin Marathon is part of a conglomerate of five races known as the World Marathon Majors. This means that over $1 million in prize money is split between the competition’s male and female winners. Other marathons in this series include those held in Tokyo, Boston, New York, Chicago, and London.
So far, at nine and counting, more marathon world records have been set at the Berlin Marathon than any other race like it. Many suspect that this could have something to do with Berlin’s relatively flat topography and the pleasant autumn temperatures in the city during late September. Not to mention that the marathon is also known for its enthusiastic crowds.
The Berlin Marathon weekend consists of far more than the actual race itself. There is a 4 km children’s marathon as well as races for speed-walkers, hand-bikers, and the wheelchair bound on the day before the main event. Plus, the weekend before, the track made for the marathon also serves as the site of an inline skating competition with over 8,000 participants.
Some participants to watch out for this year include Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele, two runners that are expected to race neck and neck in the competition. Kipsang, a Kenyan native, has already won the Berlin marathon in 2013, where he set a new world record of 2:03 race time. Yet, it will be Ethiopia’s promising Bekele who is expected to give Kipsang a run for his money — as he is said to be the most successful long distance runner ever. Bekele, competing in the race for the first time, has won three Olympic medals and once remained the world champion in distance running for five years in a row.
For more information about stats and contenders check out the marathon’s website here.