How the Berlin Marathon Works

Berlin Marathon Entry

The Berlin Marathon is definitely a big-name event, but you don't have to qualify to run it. It's a first-come, first-served process, and online and mail registration starts about nine months ahead of time, in December of the previous year. Registration lasts until about mid-July -- or until 40,000 runners have signed up. (The 2010 marathon filled up in April, the earliest date ever.) Notification is sent in mid-August, and the race is the last Sunday in September. The registration fee varies depending on when you enter, but here's the basic setup:

  • Before late February: €55 ($70)
  • March through late April: €75 ($95)
  • Late April through mid-July: €95 ($120)

And if you'd like to run for a charity, the official Berlin Marathon site makes it easy, featuring a list of almost 50 organizations -- all you have to do is send an e-mail to your selected charity and say you'd like to run for its cause.

The marathon is open to anyone 18 and older (in 2010, anyone born in or after 1992 was eligible). The wheelchair race starts at 8:35 a.m., and hand cyclists take off at 8:45. The main race starts around 9 a.m. (in 2010, it was 9:03), with runners leaving in three "blocks" -- every race number begins with a letter that corresponds to a block (and the first and second blocks are further broken down into groups):

  • First block: A through E (for runners with times under 3:30)
  • Second block: F and G (3:30 to 4:15)
  • Third block: H (4:15:01 and over, or no registered time)

There's a 6:15 time limit, which means that all stragglers have to clear the course at 3:15 p.m.

In 2009, 48,740 people from 121 countries took part in the various Berlin Marathon events (40,923 marathon runners, 7,612 inline skaters, 169 handcyclists and 36 wheelchair athletes). The year before, a record 35,035 runners made it across the finish line [source: Berlin Marathon]. For some reason, the Berlin event skews more male than U.S. marathons -- it's an 80/20 split as compared to 60/40 in the United States [source: Running USA].