Wednesday, September 27, 2023


DFL, Dead Fucking Last. 

Not DQ, Disqualified. 

Not DNF, Did Not Finish.

Almost a year ago someone in my running club, the Peer Pressure Track Club, posted that it was just a few hours left to end of the lottery for the BMW Berlin Marathon. WTF, clickety click, I entered the lottery. The bad news was that I won. And then I read about this marathon. Unlike the New York City marathon where they reboot the finish line when it gets dark, in Berlin they enforce a time limit. last November I finished the New York City marathon in 8 hours and 30 minutes. In Berlin they shut it down at 6:15.The good news was that it's 6 hours and 15 minutes from when the last person crosses the starting line. The bad news was they put up fences along the way if you're not at that pace. 

The worst news was that I knew a friend who got caught behind one of those fences. At workouts he's been my rabbit. The even worse news was that I found out they don't really have an official time where they put up those fences

So I did the research I talked to people. I got advice. I did more research and I found out they added more fences.You had to be on pace to finish in 6 hours and 15 minutes from in the last person across the starting line. At both the 33 km, the 38 km, and the finish!. Lots of moving targets.

I have to say this out loud. I have to admit I was very concerned about getting cut off by these arbitrary fences. It was a big investment to go to Berlin. Not just for me, but for Achilles and for the guides that were coming with me. It worried me even more when I did a shake out run the day before the race, a four mile easy run that ended in the Olympic Stadium. It took me so long to get there that they didn't even want to let me in. But I had an epiphany.I knew how to sneak in. One guy telling everyone this was an exit and no one can come in. I knew enough just to walk around him and go in.And then they wouldn't let me down to the track. I just went around the people who were telling me not to go forward and I went down to the track.I looked at the arena. Tons of stairs no handrails. I heard people comment that they didn't build this very excessively. Of course they didn't build it with accessibility in mind The people who built this were also building ovens to put people like me in. So fuck that, I needed to get down to the track. I got down there and stood in the spot where Jesse Owens flipped the bird to ate off Hitler. When I stood there I knew i was going to finish the marathon the next day. 

But it wasn't going to be easy. I needed to use my head and my feet

I was assuming that it would take 2 hours for everyone to get to the starting line. That turned out to be incorrect. But it was okay.

I was able to finagle my way into the first wave..the third Corral of the first wave. I thought it would take me 15 minutes to get to the starting line and it only took me eight.The 10 miles of the race went just as I expected. I was able to maintain my pace and avoid all the faster runners passing me. There were a couple of close calls i got bumped but never hit the ground. Then I had to go to work. A week before the race I ran a 10-mile race in 17 minutes per mile. I did the first 10 miles of the marathon at that pace and just had to do 16 more..... Sounds easy

We made it through the first checkpoint where the announcer was telling everyone there was another one up ahead and we all had to keep moving.He was staying such stupid things like take your time but hurry up. Everybody knew what he was talking about.We had also done the math on a way to these checkpoints.We knew I had to make it across the first checkpoint with plenty of spare room because if I cut it close I would only have 45 minutes to run another 5K. I made it through the second check point with minutes to spare. That's when the memory started coming up. I don't remember people saying that I would never walk again, but they said it. But I do remember a lot of doctors worrying I would stop breathing. I didn't chat too much after the second checkpoint because I knew they could still shut down the finish line on me. But if you look at the top of this blog you'll see the picture of me approaching Brandenburg Gate. I knew that after that there was only 200 m to go.

If you look above you see the official results. That's the last page. It's impossible to sort and include old genders but that's only the males. And all the other genders beat me to the finish line. I was the second slowest runner to have their time recorded. But the person who was slower than me started ahead of me. I was the last person to receive a medal. Eliud Kipchoge finished first and got the first medal. Same as mine.  Here is the link to the inaccurate Strava map of my run. But I did finish in 7 hours and 50 minutes.  That's 46 minutes faster then my last marathon.


but I can go on and on in this post but I have to hit publish eventually. I can talk about how wonderful the city of Berlin is become. The walking tour, the architecture, the super complicated history. We stayed at the Scandic Horel on Potsdamer Platz. The architecture on that wide boulevard made me think they found the greatest architects in the most recent graduating classes and told them to go for it without restrictions. It turns out I was right. My hotel was where the wall used to be. A land of opportunity in so many ways.

I could write 10 blogs about what it's like to reconnect with high school buddy that I haven't seen in 35 years. 

And I must, must take my teammates that got me there.

Thanks Ariel for Achilles for arranging us to stay in the most amazing hotel. Who would think it would be great to stay in a Scandinavian hotel in Germany. But it was like living in an IKEA with better food.

I need to thank Joe for giving me great advice on how to find accommodations in unaccommodating race.

Jacky for giving up 5 days of her life, and then joining up with Tavi on race day to literally become team Michael. (We very look quickly lost track of how many ways Michael can be pronounced). The photo to the right was probably taken around while 25. But between miles zero and mile 10 they were literally my offensive linebackers. 

Sorry I didn't post this sooner but my nose keep running and interfered with my voice to text. No, I wasn't crying.


  1. You are my inspiration. I was so happy when I saw you and Jacky on the course, I was wondering if I would see you. You looked strong, I was still strong at that time too, about 33K my race fell apart, the wheels started to completely go off the rails, I was so sad to not meet my goal, but I knew you were out there, you were trekking frwd with more ailments than I could ever complain about, and that gave me the courage to keep moving fwd, I don't know if i would have finished if I didn't see you. Thank you for inspiring us all! You are a Berlin Legend!

  2. Mike, it has been a long time since I’ve read your blog. I moved to Medium. I truly enjoyed your journey and having seen you overcome so much through your posts and an occasional in person encounter, this is even more amazing. Very very inspiring- Myriam

  3. Congratulations Michael!!! You trained hard and met your goals! You are an inspiration all of us! Congrats. again. Keep on truckin!

  4. Amazing and really inspiring determination! Congrats on this achievement!

  5. Congratulations Michael, you are such an amazing inspiration! Well done! ❤️❤️

  6. I just love this blog, you brought tears of joy for you-really Michael. Absolutely amazing.


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