Plan ahead: Running a German marathon

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Traveling through Deutschland on a wing and a prayer is fine and fun, but if your plans call for running a marathon, just showing up in a far-flung city and hoping to register on race day itself won’t always cut it. Instead, it might well be worth your while to do a little research beforehand and ensure the race you choose is open to last-minute registrants and that it hasn’t yet reached its full capacity of runners.

Running events are loved by participants, spectators, organizers, sponsors, hotels and tourist boards alike. A glance at the website reveals that some 124 marathons will be organized throughout the country in 2019. Marathons organized near our military communities include the Neckarufer Marathon (March 3); Bienwald-Marathon (March 10); Gutenberg-Marathon Mainz (May 5); Globus-Marathon St. Wendel (May 5); SRH Dämmer Marathon Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar (May 11); iWelt-Marathon Würzburg (May 26); Regensburg Marathon (June 2); Monschau-Marathon (Aug. 11); Pfälzerwald-Marathon (Sept. 8); Fiducia & GAD Baden-Marathon Karlsruhe (Sept. 22); Gelita Trail Marathon Heidelberg (Oct. 6) and the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon (Oct. 27).

All races are not created equal, and to recognize this fact, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) awards classifications to the races it deems the top of their class. Races are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Labels. Some of the requirements stipulate that there should be an international elite field of runners from different countries and they should have clocked times faster than those in the IAAF's guidelines. Additionally, the race courses must be closed to vehicular traffic, measured to the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) standard, and use electronic timing to generate the results. Prize money for the participants should be equal, irrespective of gender or nationality of runner. IAAF certified marathons include the BMW Berlin Marathon Marathon; the Deutsche Post Marathon Bonn, the Dusseldorf Metro Group Marathon; the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, the Hamburg Haspa Marathon, the Hannover HAJ Marathon; the Mainz Gutenberg Marathon; the Munich Marathon, the Munster Volksbank Marathon and the iWelt Wuerzburg Marathon.

World Marathon Majors are a championship-style series for elite marathon runners in which they participate in six races annually, including races in Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago, New York City and Berlin.

There’s good reason to sign up for a marathon in a timely fashion. Not only does having one on your personal sporting docket force you to stay focused in your training, many marathons have multi-tiered layers of pricing, meaning you’ll pay less the earlier you register. And if your run calls for an overnight stay in a distant city, planning ahead means you can arrange your stay in a hotel convenient to the start or finish line.

If a race has reached capacity, that doesn’t necessarily mean your chances to participate have been derailed. It’s sometimes possible to purchase a travel package with race entry included or to run on behalf of a charity and raise funds for it. So be as diligent in pursuing all options as you are in getting yourself physically prepared for the race.

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