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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 realize 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 during these COVID times? 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 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.

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 ($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

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 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. 

Sounds easy, right? In theory, it couldn’t be more simple, but good luck running a marathon. Such things are never simple, just ask Pheidippides. On your marks, get set…. 

Below you can find other marathons in Berlin and a selection of runs in other cities we are covering.

Berlin Marathon

After a yearlong break due to the Coronavirus, the race is now happily back in its traditional spot of the last weekend of September. 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 take place for 18th time on September 12th, 2021. It is the biggest running event in Lithuania with the distances for every kind of runner’s 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, now in its 38th year, has developed into a world-class stage responsible for launching new race technology as well as the careers of some of the world’s 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. Sunday September 12, from 09:00.

Gdańsk Marathon

For those wanting to see all of Gdańsk in a hurry, here’s a way to do it – the route will take you through the Old Town (wave hello to Neptune), Reagan Park, and the Solidarity Square, with the start and finish line next to the Energa Stadium. Expect some spectator seagulls. For more information click here.

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. More info (in German) here.

Hamburg Marathon

As for all marathons in Germany, the 2020 Hamburg Marathon was canceled due to the pandemic. For 2021 the organisers have moved the date from April to September. So, if you’re visiting town on Sunday 12 September 2021, you’re sure to notice the hordes of sweating runners being egged on by enthusiastic crowds – 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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