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From San Francisco to Berlin: Running a Virtual Marathon

Back from the Bridge through the Presidio, San Francisco © thesfmarathon.com

When Pheidippides huffed and puffed his way from Marathon to Athens on that fateful day in 490BC, did he realise that he was doing a little more than simply relaying (see what we did there?) surprising news of the end of a battle? Did he know that the journey that brought about his death would become a staple of global competition? We won’t speculate on whether that brings any solace to Big P’s ancestors, but we shall also contradict that and say that the boy would almost certainly be pleased with his legacy.

What does the fabled marathon have to do with Berlin? Maybe nothing, maybe everything, but obviously something, hence this feature. To get to the bottom of it all, we must travel 5,657.67 miles (not as Pheidippides did, thankfully) to San Francisco, where a technological revolution aims to bring together the marathon runners of the world.

Virtual Marathon San Francisco - The San Francisco Marathon Virtual365 Tracking App (a mouthful, best just refer to it as the SFMV365 app, save that breath for the running) allows budding marathon runners across the world to take part in their own city, in their own country, in their own time zone, bridging the gap between runners in these times of social distancing, lockdowns and uncertainty. A variety of leaderboards on the app allow you to test your times against runners in your city, country, continent, age-group and more, giving real meaning to the tagline; run globally, compete locally. It isn’t all just about running for running’s sake either, as those posting the best times could find themselves in the running for a slot upgrade at the eventual in-person San Francisco Marathon.
Some hills in San Francisco © thesfmarathon.com

The San Francisco Marathon Tracking App allows budding marathon runners across the world to take part in their own city, in their own country, in their own time zone, bridging the gap between runners in these recent times of  social distancing, lockdowns and uncertainty. A variety of leaderboards on the app allow you to test your times against runners in your city, country, continent, age-group and more, giving real meaning to the tagline; run globally, compete locally. It isn‚Äôt all just about running for running‚Äôs sake either, as those posting the best times could find themselves in the running for a slot upgrade at the eventual in-person San Francisco Marathon.

But again, we return to the question, what does this have to do with Berlin? Well, it should be no surprise that our marvellous home city is one of the featured locations involved in the Globetrotter Adventure Series, along with vaunted destinations like Paris, London and Tokyo. Those looking to compete in the German capital will find no shortage of times to beat.   

A huge range of runs is available covering everything from (gulp) ultramarathons to short training courses, with a full price list available on the website and on the registration site The RegHub. Simply choose your race, check when you need to submit your time, and make plans to run for miles, be it around your neighbourhood or in the comfort of your own home (running 26 miles around your home is not recommended though, not great for the mind and/or the behaviour of your pets). The massive abundance of wearable devices (FitBit, Strava, Apple Watch etc) will time your run, allowing you to submit your result and set about icing up those poor, poor feet. 

A huge range of runs is available, covering everything from (gulp) ultramarathons ($188) to short training courses ($39), with a full price list available on the website. Simply choose your race, check when you need to submit your time, and make plans to run for miles, be it around your neighborhood or in the comfort of your own home (running 26 miles around your home is not recommended though, not great for the mind and/or the behavior of your pets). The massive abundance of wearable devices (FitBit, Strava, Apple Watch etc) will time your run, allowing you to submit your result and set about icing up those poor, poor feet. 
Back and forth over the Golden Gate Bridge ¬© thesfmarathon.com

Sounds easy, right? In theory, it couldn‚Äôt be more simple, but good luck running a marathon. Such things are never simple, just ask Pheidippides. On your marks, get set‚Ķ 

Below you can find other marathons in Berlin and a selection of runs in other cities we are covering – and if you want to see where you can run a virtual marathon worldwide, go and have a look at worldsmarathons.com.

Berlin Marathon

After a yearlong break due to the Coronavirus in 2020, the race was happily back in its traditional spot of the last weekend of September in 2021 again. The annual Berlin Marathon promises to be a fun-filled day of impressive physical endurance and city-wide celebrations. The marathon dominates the weekend in Berlin with a wide variety of races including specific races for men, women, youngsters and wheelchair marathon runners. More info and a link to their website you can find here.

Rimi Vilnius Marathon

Exceptional running festival in the Baltics Danske Bank Vilnius Marathon will takes place always mid-September. It is the biggest running event in Lithuania with the distances for every kind of runner‚Äôs experience. Are you ready for the 42, 125 k marathon challenge? If the number frightens you, choose a half-marathon, 10k, or 5k. Introduce the kids to the joy of running by starting with the 200m distance. Everyone can run, so get your running shoes and explore Vilnius Old Town with friendly, like-minded people!

Vienna City Marathon

This annual race event has developed into a world-class stage responsible for launching new race technology as well as the careers of some of the world‚Äôs fastest runners today. Shoe chips were introduced for the first time here, as well as the real-time transmission of results to cell phones. Because the course winds past some of the most iconic sights in Vienna, with a climactic finish line in the historic Heldenplatz, the race attracts more than a quarter of a million enthusiastic (and sometimes, quite entertaining) spectators every year. Every year in second half of April. See for more details their homepage under www.vienna-marathon.com.

Kassel Marathon

Marathons are mad, we say this time and time again. We find it hard enough to type all of these words, let alone run a steady pace for 26.2 miles. We’d struggle to stay still in a car for 26.2miles. But the mighty athletes are no ordinary folk, and they descend upon Kassel to test their will and stamina every September. This has a reputation for being one of the fastest marathons in Germany, which is a thing that we can’t quite get our heads around. Fastest marathon sounds like a contradiction. Link to their site in our listing here.

Marathon Hamburg

If you’re visiting town in the end of April, you’re sure to notice the hordes of sweating runners being egged on by enthusiastic crowds ‚Äď it’s the annual Hamburg Marathon, when some 25.000 people run 42,125 kilometres through the city centre. The marathon is popular with runners for its flatness, but mainly for the excellent atmosphere, with hundreds of thousands of people partying along the route. More information here.

This article was put together by our Berlin In Your Pocket editorial team, and originally appeared here.

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