2018 Berlin Marathon Recap & FIT in 2019!
Happy 26.2 day! Today is a special day not only because it’s the marathon distance in date form — the 26th of February, 26.2.19 — but also because it’s the one-year launch anniversary of FIT’s first ever group marathon trip! To celebrate 26.2 day and our marathon trip experience turning one, let’s take a look back at our group trip to the Berlin Marathon.
Berlin was a natural pick for our first destination group tour. For one, our fearless leader and founder of FIT, Kelly McLay, had finished the Berlin Marathon five times! “The starting corral music is so eclectic - one of my favorite corrals to get pumped up for the race! And there’s something so powerful about running under the Brandenburg Gate en route to the finish. Plus, the Berlin team is fantastic to work with; this race had all the makings of a great first event for FIT.” said Kelly.
With a rich history and vibrant culture, Berlin is a fantastic city to visit. And the well-organized Berlin Marathon is known for being a fast course, which is attractive for anyone looking to set PBs or qualify for Boston. It’s also part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors circuit helping runners get one star closer to the infamous six-star medal and completion.
We were thrilled to welcome 35 runners in Berlin last year, and we could not have asked for a better group. We had people from all over the world join us — from Russia to Canada to the USA. All 35 runners ran Berlin for the first time, which felt extra special! And we even had a few first-time marathons in the group as well. Two first-timers from California learned about FIT and our Berlin package by winning a raffle at a fundraiser in Monterey, CA!
I am always amazed that there are first-time marathoners who take on traveling overseas to a destination race to run their first marathon. It’s impressive!! I LOVE that they trusted FIT to help them with their first marathon experience.
- Kelly McLay, FIT Founder
While the marathon is the focal point of a destination marathon package, there are also many other fun experiences planned throughout the trip. For example, FIT travelers enjoyed a welcome reception with appetizers and beverages to kick off the weekend and meet other racers. And thanks to our awesome sponsor Balega, everyone received a pair of Balega socks at the reception as well. We continued the pre-race kick-off event with a private guided tour of the city covering the history of the Berlin Wall and the Reichstag Building.
There was a fun 6K race on Saturday for all international runners signed up for the Berlin Marathon, which everyone had the opportunity to join. It finished in the historic 1936 Olympic Stadium — a truly amazing place to cross the finish line! We concluded our pre-race experience with guest speaker Richard Donovan. Richard talked about launching races in the North Pole and running across several continents, including his favorite — the USA. It was a great way to motivate for the marathon the next day!
Like many things in life, race day doesn’t always go according to plan. Traffic getting to the starting corrals, the wrong pair of socks, not enough energy packets! Well, we have a mishap story of our own from Berlin: a first-time marathoner’s chip malfunctioned and never activated, which meant her run didn’t register at all (can you imagine!). Luckily, she ran with a watch her husband just bought her for this specific event. Also, she documented her entire first marathon from start to finish with pictures. So we had lots of the details to submit for her to prove she ran the marathon — her watch time, pictures she took at splits along the course, a start picture and time, a finish picture, and videos on the course!
This world of “marathoning” and travel is my passion, so this trip, starting this company, putting myself out there and bringing people along to Berlin — it meant a lot to me. There was a lot of pride in it. I was so nervous, even though I had done it all before (several times, in fact). There was just a lot of pressure that I put on myself for this first trip especially. And I wanted to ensure the clients had an amazing time. Berlin will forever have its place in my and FIT’s journey. I look forward to many more Berlins.
- Kelly McLay, FIT Founder
The lesson of the trip: Even if your preference is to run tech-free, sometimes it can come in very handy...especially in this case and we were grateful we could get it resolved for her!
After the marathon, we celebrated everyone’s amazing races — and our successful first group trip — with a champagne (and steine) toast!
So, what’s next for FIT?
We’re excited to continue growing our destination offerings while still providing excellent customer service for our clients. Our goal is to have at least one package on the six easily accessible continents. Plus, we’ll always recommend the Antarctic Ice Marathon for our clients looking to compete on all seven continents.
We were excited to add the Medoc (France), Safaricom (Kenya), and London marathons to the 2019 calendar, and after last year’s trips to Shanghai and Singapore, we expect those packages to grow this year as well.
Also, stay tuned for some exotic destinations, and (fingers crossed) a yoga experience or combination of the two in the future.
As for Berlin 2019 — it’s going to be as amazing as 2018! Will we see you there?