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BMW Berlin Marathon 2019

The following was authored by Nicholas “Flock” Rachowicz, the “QDR Midwest Chapter President” as he puts it! He has graciously helped Queens Distance numerous times even though he currently resides in St. Louis! The commitment to the team goes even further as late last year he set up a spreadsheet detailing, per month, races that QDR members have signed up for. That way, one can find out someone else on the team who is going to a race, especially if it’s a destination race outside of NYC. We thank him for leading the team out in this year’s BMW Berlin Marathon!

Queens Distance

The Berlin Marathon is one of the world’s most prestigious and largest marathons. As one of the Abbott World Majors, Berlin makes for tough competition to get in. The Queens Distance Runners Family had a sizable contingent present for the festivities with over 15 runners. The race is known for being very flat and providing for very good times which is evident when you see how the team did overall. Many emotional wins for the QDR squad as they ran from the Victory Column through the many sights of the once divided City of Berlin ending with a pass under the Brandenburg Gate and then the last 400m to the finish.

Team Results

Even in the rain, team member Daniel Rivera crushed his marathon time giving himself a new personal best over 5 minutes faster than any previous marathon. Daniel described excitement about his victory despite dealing with jet lag, seeing kilometer markers instead of the mile markers and dealing with the paper bibs. “My bib at one point ripped off and I had to re-pin my bib to my singlet as I ran. All of this made it much more satisfying to cross the finish line with a five minute personal best.” In an Instagram post, Lillian Kim exclaimed that this race was an “…incredibly unforgettable way to see my very first city in Europe” as she closed the books on her second marathon. Vikram Singh celebrated Berlin as his 25th marathon and part of his triple crown of races this fall season. Martha Panora and I ran the race together and we both noted that running together helped both of us feel stronger and able to complete the race feeling strong. Martha was able to shave 12 minutes off her best time! We caught up with Keyvan at the end for some medal biting photos and high fives. 

While not able to run this year, Ashley Hall captured action shots and cheered us on while on the course. She gave many of us a needed boost as the kilometers climbed. Valerie Lores noted on her Facebook that Berlin was a “…PB in fun” and that it was an amazing experience. Elsie Alonso scored big with a seven-minute personal best according to her Instagram. She was even able to give her parents a hug at mile 22! Nelsey Coste felt right at home running her third marathon with the team even though she, like me, no longer lives in Queens.


The expo was located at the Tempelhof Airport. The airport has a rich history. During World War II, the airport was a place where dive bombers were made, but it was most notably used as the place that western allies flew in supplies to the Soviet-blockaded West Berlin. The expo itself took up the majority of the facility. It could easily be compared to NYC or Chicago in size. Though massive, it was very crowded. Valerie suggests coming early and that it would be “less stressful, less crowded, and that more merch would be available.” The race merch was in short supply by the afternoon on Friday. Many sizes had sold out. I, too, suggest coming on Thursday if you can. The expo was a walk in the park that day. Daniel Rivera was a hero to most of us when he pointed out that most if not nearly all of us were in the last corral and that if you could provide a faster marathon or half marathon, you could be moved up in corrals. Several of us were able to move up two to three corrals and start as much as an hour sooner. This would prove to be a big help as it rained for much of the 26.2 miles. Many of us got a few drier kilometers to run during the race.


On Saturday before the marathon, there was the Generali Breakfast Run. This run, in friendship, was a slow shakeout that began at the Charlottenberg Palace. It was there that runners from different countries and cities showed off their flags in celebration. The run was full of energy that lasted a full 6 kilometers but only increased in intensity as we entered the Olympic Stadium or Olympiastadion. This stadium hosted the first televised 1936 summer Olympics and we were able to run a lap on a track that is shared with greatness like Jesse Owens, Usain Bolt, and Tyson Gay, as well as where World Cup soccer has been played. The team took a photo under the Olympic Rings once breakfast was had.

Race Advice

I asked for some thoughts from the team on different elements of the trip for the QDR family who didn’t attend with us and want torun Berlin in the future. Several family members answered the call with some advice:

Jet lag. Several teammates reported that the jet lag was real. Howie suggests that those wanting to run Berlin to “give yourself a few days to acclimate”. Valerie Lores suggested that those running will want to stay near the starting line in order to minimize their travel time after.

Watch out for cups. the Berlin Marathon uses plastic cups. Daniel Rivera noted that they get slippery at the water stations. Some of the cups were recyclable and were difficult to grip. Many teammates noted that the fluid stations were different than any other race they had run. Nelsy suggests you may wish to bring your water belt with you.

Remember your cash. Some places in Berlin did not take credit cards so cash was a necessity. 

Check-in with Nike and Adidas. Elsie, Keyvan, Daniel, and others attended shakeouts through the stores. Daniel noted that the Nike store was offering free cryotherapy and recovery boots too.

Coach Medina. Nelsy, Kristin, and Martha credit our Coaches Luciano Medina and Marie-Ange Brumelot for helping them have successful races.

Traveling Europe

Post-race, the team parted ways and some, like Valerie or Johnathan Fu, went on to Oktoberfest in Munich and Bavaria. Lillian could be found climbing up mountains in the Swiss Alps. Vikram went off to Barcelona to explore the Pyrenees. Diego Britez came back to the Brandenberg Gate after the dust cleared to take one last photo with his medal. I got on a train to Paris to fly back to NYC (learning a valuable lesson about traveler’s insurance and with an unexpected stop in Madrid) to enjoy a couple of days in my old stomping grounds before heading back to St. Louis. 

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time in Berlin. Your chance to be a #BerlinLegend is now! Registration continues through Oct 31.

Nicholas “Flock” Rachowicz,
QDR Midwest Chapter President
dchiflock on Instagram