BMW Berlin Marathon | Your guide to running

Considered to be the fastest marathon in the world, Berlin is a brilliant choice for any runner, whether it's your first 26.2-mile race or you're looking for a PB. To help you get ready, we've created a complete guide to the race.

The BMW Berlin Marathon

In September 2022, Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record for the fastest marathon time, arriving at the finish line in an astounding 2:01:09. Not only did he break his own previous record by 30 seconds and finish a full five minutes ahead of his next competitor, it looked possible for much of the race that he might achieve the impossible and break the two hour mark on an official road marathon. Afterwards, Kipchoge attributed his record to the fantastic organisation of the race. After all, only in Berlin could a pace like that be maintained.

The BMW Berlin Marathon has long been considered the fastest marathon course in the world, though you do not need to be an elite runner to enjoy it. Over 40,000 people ran this 26.2-mile route at the same time as Kipchoge, many of them taking part in their first marathon or raising money for charity. There is an incredible atmosphere along the course as thousands of spectators cheer on everyone running, as well as entertainment throughout the city.

Berlin is one of six international races in the Abbott World Major Marathons series and people travel from across the globe to run through this historic city. As well as an incredible start and finish location by the Brandenburg Gate, there are many other iconic landmarks to enjoy as you run. Many people use their entry as a reason to stay on in Berlin and explore more of the city, too.

If you're interested in entering the race, we've got everything you need to know right here, including highlights of the route, what to look out for at the expo, advice on staying in Berlin over the marathon weekend and, most importantly, all the information you on how to enter.

Route highlights

Berlin is a historic city renowned for its vibrant culture and stunning landmarks, both of which the marathon takes full advantage of. While there are many memorable moments along the route, these are some of the stand-out features.

  • The start-line. Beginning in the green expanse of Berlin's largest and oldest park, the Tiergarten, the marathon's start is famous for its approach to Victory Column, a monolithic 67m column dedicated to victory in the Prussian-Danish war of the 19th century. The enigmatic figure of the goddess Victoria will hopefully inspire runners to their own success!

  • The Reichstag. Around mile seven, the course briefly crosses to the south side of the Spree and approaches the historic government building of Germany, the Reichstag. This world-famous building is the current home of the German parliament and an impressive monument to democracy.

  • Long straights. The course runs through Berlin's streets and past various historic public squares but can be generalised by the long stretches of straight road and minimal turns. This is one of the factors that helps to make the course as fast as it is. If that sounds uninteresting, don't worry - there are regular entertainment stations along the route to keep you going!

  • Potsdamer Platz. Before Germany's reunification, this was a wasteland with the Berlin Wall running through it - today, that history is all but unrecognisable. Standing at around 38.5K into the run, this is now one of the biggest and most popular shopping and entertainment districts in Berlin, crowded by skyscrapers and modern architecture. This signals your return to central Berlin and the home straight!

  • The Brandenburg Gate. This iconic landmark was built in the 18th century and is a national monument famous all over the world. For runners in the Berlin Marathon, though, it is most important for standing over the finish line of the race! This is a spectacular ending to a superb race.

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The Berlin Marathon passes many famous landmarks
The marathon route passes many of Berlin's famous landmarks. (Credit: Petko Beier)

What else is on?

The BMW Berlin Marathon is clearly the main attraction for runners but it's not the only reason that people visit the German capital on this weekend.

International expo

The historic Airport Tempelhof - built during WWII and used to deliver emergency food to citizens during the Cold War - is the venue for this three-day expo, providing an incredible setting for this vibrant event. The expo is your opportunity to: meet fellow runners; visit exhibitors to discuss running, wellness and nutrition; sample running gear for the race and your future training; and relax among the food stalls and bars. With tens of thousands of attendees, we'd recommend getting there early!

Hall of fame

This will be showcased by the Brandenburg Gate for four days prior to the marathon and features the names of everyone competing in the marathon, as well as the event's greatest ever athletes! What's more, on the Friday before the race, you have an opportunity to visit and meet the top athletes competing in the BMW Berlin Marathon, which in 2022 included the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and Keira d'Amato.

Breakfast run

On the morning of the marathon, at 08:30 by the expo, all participants of the race are invited for a gentle 6K run to help prepare for the race and enjoy the experience of running among a huge crowd. There is no registration required and this is free of charge for all participants!

Kids races

To make sure that there's something for everyone at the BMW Berlin Marathon, there are three separate races for children on the day of the marathon, including a 500m 'Bambini Run' in front of the expo, a kids skating race in front the Brandenburg Gate and a mini marathon near Potsdamer Platz.

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Berlin's fantastic support
This major international marathon attracts thousands of spectators. (Credit: Petko Beier)

Visit Berlin

As with any other international marathon, travelling to a foreign capital to run the race and immediately return is all well and good but many people will choose to extend their trip, enjoying some of the wider attractions of the city. This is particularly true of Berlin, which enjoys a steady stream of tourists thanks to its cultural highlights and exciting history. The city becomes much busier over the marathon weekend so follow our advice to make the most of your visit to Berlin.

Stay in Berlin

To avoid a long, painful walk back to your hotel after the marathon, you'll want accommodation close to the start and finish, which is near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. Hotel Adlon Kempinski is a luxury 5* hotel very close to the start line but for something more affordable look to the Motel One Berlin-Potsdamer Platz, which is a slightly further walk but offers great value for money. As a popular tourist destination, there are plenty of Airbnbs and hostels to choose from in Berlin, too.

Getting around Berlin

The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are Berlin's most reliable forms of public transport, allowing you to travel across the city rapidly and are accessible from many areas. It's also one of the only methods of travel that will not be affected by the marathon, since road closures have no impact. For the remainder of your trip, the U-Bahn will continue to be your best bet but there's also the option of electric scooters for hire if you're just travelling a short distance!

Cultural highlights

The Reichstag is an obvious destination for tourists and Sanssouci Palace is just a few stops away on the S-Bahn, offering you more grand German architecture, though there's much more to see beyond impressive landmarks. Once you've done an obligatory trip to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie (both of which are very impressive and interesting as well as famous) visit the Markthalle Neun, a 19th century market hall updated to house street food vendors and a craft brewery.

Sign up for the Berlin Marathon

The start of the marathon
This unforgettable moment is shared by tens of thousands!

How to enter

General entries to the BMW Berlin Marathon are allocated via a ballot. A link to the ballot can be found on our Berlin Marathon listing. Additional entries are allocated to charities.

How do you apply to run for charity?

Once the ballot has closed, anyone unsuccessful in gaining an entry will be able to secure their place by committing to raise money for charity. Each charity will set a minimum fundraising target in return for a guaranteed place - though these vary between charities, they are mostly around £1,000 for the Berlin Marathon. Additionally, most charities will charge a nominal entry fee.

We have made it as easy as possible to find a charity that you would like to apply to - you can order them by their name or their cause, as well as filtering for charities with the lowest entry fees and lowest fundraising costs. So whether there is a particular cause you are interested in supporting or you want to secure an entry to this brilliant marathon, you have many options.

Why run for charity?

Committing to the raise money for a charity through your entry will help to elevate your race day experience - as you support the charity, they will support you. While the exact support you will receive will differ between organisations, you can generally expect:

  • Fundraising support, including advice on events and access to branded materials.

  • A branded t-shirt to run in.

  • Access to the brand's post-event celebration, often including food and a massage.

  • A cheer squad on the day of the event to spur you on.

  • Access to exclusive social media groups.

  • Training support and advice on how to prepare for the event.

Viel glück!

The BMW Berlin Marathon is internationally recognised as a superb running event, thanks to its fast course, cultural highlights and exceptional atmosphere. Signing up to run this marathon is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience and provides unforgettable memories. For more details on the race and how to enter, click below.

Sign up for the Berlin Marathon