6:45am Friday 23rd September 2016. Jordan and Adcock pull up on the drive at Simkiss Towers and hoist their cases from the Adcock-mobile to the boot of the Simkiss-wagon, the original team of 6 sadly now reduced to 3. A last trip to the toilet for all, a coffee courtesy of Mr Nespresso and the illustrious trio are heading for the M40 South towards Heathrow. The Berlin Marathon weekend (aka The McCarkiss Coffee Weekend) was officially underway.
Setting the theme for the rest of the weekend, focus quickly turned to running, conversations included race shoe weight vs comfort and potential ramifications on performance, Adcock declaring his belief that over marathon distance, stripped back race shoes would have negligible difference. Also hypotheses were hypothesised on how Simkiss had managed to gain weight whilst averaging around 90mpw.
One fancy airport breakfast (including coffee) and a flight later, the boys landed in Berlin. With no prior plan of how to get to their accommodation, the trio were on a bus heading towards the marathon Expo’ to collect race numbers and various other running freebies. Numbers were collected and Jordan set about purchasing his ‘Finisher’ T-shirt, confirming his race result for Sunday, whilst Simkiss, confident of his sub 2:30 finish on Sunday, condemned himself to failure by not buying the £30 technical T-shirt.
Jordan then set about finding a new fanny-pack having forgotten to bring his tried and tested SPI Belt, meanwhile Adcock realised he’d forgotten to pack any calf guards and so bought some in fear his ‘still to be decided’ race plan may fall apart without this crucial item of compression clothing. Feeling left out having not yet bought anything, Simkiss chose to purchase a bottle to piss in on the start line – a bargain at 2€.
The well practised parenting skills of the Leicestershire-ites (Leicestershites?) Jordan and Adcock had come prepped with packed lunches, offering to share their goods with the unorganised Simkiss. Simkiss politely declined, opting instead to queue for 10minutes for some delicious sold out pasta bolognese, before returning sheepishly to the McCarkiss food bench and picking at any leftovers.
Heading for their accommodation, and being caught with expired U-bahn tickets (by all of 1minute – which would still be valid had they not boarded a train in the wrong direction several minutes earlier), Madcock began to wonder whether he should’ve bought some of those shiny new Saucony fastwitch 7’s he spotted at the expo…
Checking in at the Hotel/Hostel, and having succeeded in passing off a plausible explanation as to why there were only 3 people turning up to fill a room for 8 (aside from the fact that they’d already paid for it), the boys picked their bunks and set about finding a local shop to stock up on some essentials, namely deodorant, and coffee.
Friday’s run was a colour co-ordinated trot over to the Brandenburg gate, another coffee whilst marvelling at the size of the aforementioned gate, intricate discussions of Checkpoint Charlie and how a portion of West Germany could physically exist so far east in Germany. Enough time for a group photo in front of the Brandenburg’ before trotting back to their ‘Humboldthaus’ room for 8. Everything seemed to be in check leg wise, and after much discussion Matt was beginning to hone in on a race day pacing plan. Must be time for another coffee.
Despite endless streets of cafe’s and restaurants, none appeared to have the McCarkiss certificate of dining excellence, that was until they stumbled upon a chicken based eatery which seemed suitable, except it had no chicken. All our boys wanted was somewhere to eat a mountain of carbs… Finally, after darkness had fallen, a suitable Italian street food place was found. A pasta dish of choice, plus a drink, plus a side of focaccia, plus a dessert, all for 10 Euro each, what a billy bargain! As Simkiss declared he could’ve comfortably eaten that 4-5 times over, the theory that his ~2 stone weight delta to Adcock & Jordan might be down to portion control perhaps held some merit.
Finally Matt’s race plan had been decided… It sat better with the McCarkiss ethos, and with Matt personally to attempt a PB, accepting it was a long shot. He would rather give it a go and fade to the mid two-thirties, than to set off with a view to ‘completing’ another marathon at, or marginally under 2:30. No longer would he be rubbing shoulders with the mediocrity of the 3:31/km runners like Simkiss, he would be bounding ahead at a PB smashing 3:30/km. Decision made, all that was left was whether he needed to make a return trip to the expo on Saturday to buy those Saucony Fastwitch 7’s.
A relatively acceptable night’s sleep and the trio woke to an empty Madcock bed; had he gone in search of new race shoes? Missing rations of bananas, coffee and Simkiss’ supply of Peanut Butter and Jam suggested he might be in the kitchen. He was. How disappointing. Finishing his first coffee of the day, and half a banana (yes, apparently it’s possible to sub divide bananas into multiple portions), 2 sniffs of bread and a waft of the peanut butter jar and his hearty breakfast was done.
The final pre-marathon jog of the campaign was another colour coordinated run consisting of a trot up the road, locating a suitable breakfasting spot (for Breakfast #2 of course), before splitting up and striding individually round a small 200mx80m park… 5mins later strides were complete and the trio headed back to the room to change for feeding, not before another coffee of course.
Returning to a picturesque spot next to the river identified earlier, the empty tables now swamped with clientele… fortunately a table was soon cleared once staff realised the presence of the McCarkiss athletes, who were seated and left to wait for 20mins before being told there would be an additional 20min wait on top of normal food prep times owing to the kitchen being busy. Sod that for a game of tiddly-winks, Adcock was already down to critical levels of body-fat and needed nourishment fast! Dom’s Cafe stall came to the rescue, 3 coffees and crepes were promptly served – Simkiss and Jordan getting their chocolate fix from the classic Banana and Nutella option (sadly we’re unsure what percentage of a banana was served in each crepe), Matt’s withering frame was rejuvenated with a fancy ham, brie and cranberry offering.
ONWARD to the Brandenburg gate to meet other members of the Leicestershire contingency (Ludo, George aka Birt and their respective partners), via a street market selling arts, handmade crafts, various kitsch items and load of other generally unwanted tat. Souvenirs purchased, and of all the iconic places to meet the day before the 43rd Berlin Marathon, Starbucks was the agreed rendez-vous point. Matt getting into the European spirit by circumventing the queuing system as the trio decided to forgo coffee for the first time this weekend in favour of a little OJ.
A lovely Italian restaurant was located for lunch courtesy of Ludo and Valerie, plates of pasta in various guises for all, and coffee. Matt finally conceded that buying new race shoes the day before a marathon might not be the best idea, that’s aside from the fact he discounted them as ‘making no difference’ only 30hrs earlier.
One more journey out was made for coffee and strudel, before collecting various carby foodstuffs on the way back for a ‘homemade’ pasta meal before bed. Pinning numbers to vests and arranging kit ready for the morning – only one night of broken sleep lay between McCarkiss and three hopeful sub 2:30 PB performances…
To be continued…