How Hard Is It To Get Into The Berlin Marathon?

I love the Berlin Marathon; I’ve done it twice (2018 and 2021).

It’s one of the most iconic and prestigious races in the world. But just how hard is it to secure a spot in this legendary event? This post explores the ins and outs of getting into the Berlin Marathon. Here are just a few of the things we’ll cover:

  • The history and significance of the Berlin Marathon
  • The various methods for securing a race entry
  • Tips and tricks for increasing your chances of getting in

It’s time to unlock the secrets of the Berlin Marathon and join the ranks of the world’s elite runners!

History of the Berlin Marathon

I have always been fascinated by the history of the Berlin Marathon.

This marathon event has been held annually on the streets of Berlin, Germany, since 1974. The event includes multiple races over the marathon of 42.195 kilometers (26.219 miles), including elite-level road running competitions for men and women, a race for the public, and a wheelchair race.

The first Berlin Marathon was held on October 13, 1974, with 286 runners.

The race was won by Günter Hallas, who finished in 2:44:53. Since then, the Berlin Marathon has grown in popularity and is now one of the world’s largest and most prestigious marathons.

The Berlin Marathon is also known for its fast and flat course, making it a popular choice for runners looking to set personal bests or even world records.

The Berlin Marathon has been the site of 11 world records, including the current men’s world record of 2:01:39, set by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya in 2018.

Over the years, the Berlin Marathon has also become a major cultural event, with thousands of spectators lining the streets to cheer on the runners and enjoy the festivities.

The marathon starts and finishes near the iconic Brandenburg Gate, and runners pass by many of Berlin’s famous landmarks, including the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag building.

Overall, the history of the Berlin Marathon is a testament to the power of running to bring people together and inspire them to achieve their goals.

Whether you are a seasoned marathoner or a first-time runner, the Berlin Marathon is an event that should be noticed.

Registration Process

When it comes to registering for the Berlin Marathon, there are a few different options available. In this section, I will discuss the three main ways to get a spot in the race: through the lottery system, charity entries, or tour operators.

Lottery System

The Berlin Marathon operates on a lottery system, meaning there is no guarantee of getting a spot in the race.

To enter the lottery, you must register online during the registration period, which typically takes several months before the race. The registration fee is non-refundable, even if you do not get selected.

The odds of getting selected through the lottery can vary yearly, but generally, it is a complex process. In some years, only about 20% of applicants are chosen.

However, there is no harm in trying your luck; many runners have successfully gotten a spot through the lottery.

Charity Entries

Another option for getting a spot in the Berlin Marathon is through a charity entry.

Many charities have partnerships with the race organizers and are given a certain number of guaranteed entries. In exchange for guaranteed access, runners must raise money for the charity.

Charity entries can be a great way to get into the race while supporting a good cause.

However, it is essential to research and choose a charity you are passionate about that aligns with your values.

Tour Operators

Finally, another option for getting into the Berlin Marathon is through a tour operator. Many tour operators offer packages that include guaranteed entry into the race, accommodations, transportation, and other perks.

Using a tour operator can be a convenient way to take care of all the logistics of traveling to the race, but it can also be more expensive than other options.

Researching and choosing a reputable tour operator that offers a package that meets your needs is essential.

In conclusion, there are a few different ways to get a spot in the Berlin Marathon, each with advantages and disadvantages.

Whether you try your luck with the lottery, support a charity, or use a tour operator, the most important thing is to start planning early and ensure you are fully prepared for the race.

Qualifying Times and Standards

You must meet certain qualifying times and standards to participate in the Berlin Marathon. These requirements are in place to ensure that all participants can complete the marathon within a reasonable time frame.

The qualifying times for the Berlin Marathon vary depending on age and gender. For men aged 18 to 44, the qualifying time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, while for women in the same age range, it is 3 hours.

For men aged 45 to 59, the qualifying time is 2 hours and 55 minutes, while for women in the same age range, it is 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Finally, for men aged 60 and above, the qualifying time is 3 hours and 25 minutes, while for women in the same age range, it is 4 hours.

It’s important to note that these times are just the minimum requirements. Meeting the qualifying times does not guarantee entry into the Berlin Marathon.

The race organizers only have limited spots available, and the demand for these spots is very high. As a result, many runners who meet the qualifying times can still not secure a place in the race.

In addition to the qualifying times, other ways exist to gain entry into the Berlin Marathon.

For example, runners can enter through a charity or tour operator or by participating in a lottery. However, these options also have limited availability, and there is no guarantee that you will be selected.

Overall, meeting the qualifying times for the Berlin Marathon is a significant achievement, but it is no guarantee of entry into the race.

If you are serious about running the Berlin Marathon, planning and exploring all your options for gaining entry is essential.

Training for the Berlin Marathon

Preparing for the Berlin Marathon requires a lot of dedication and hard work. As someone who has trained for and run the marathon before, I know that a solid training plan, cross-training, and proper nutrition are critical to a successful race.

Training Plan

A well-rounded training plan is essential for any marathon, and the Berlin Marathon is no exception.

As I prepared for the race, I followed a 16-week training plan that included a mix of long runs, speed work, and recovery days.

I gradually increased my mileage weekly, peaking at around 20-22 miles about three weeks before the race.

It’s important to note that everyone’s training plan will look different, as it depends on your fitness level and goals. I recommend consulting with a running coach or researching to find the best plan for you.


In addition to running, incorporating cross-training into your routine can help improve your overall fitness and prevent injury.

During my training, I included strength training, yoga, and cycling to help build strength and flexibility.

Cross-training can also be a great way to mix up your routine and prevent burnout. Just be sure to listen to your body and not overdo it, as rest days are just as important as training days.


Proper nutrition is crucial for any endurance event, and the Berlin Marathon is no exception. So as I trained, I fueled my body with a balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

During long runs, I also fueled with energy gels and sports drinks to keep my energy levels up. Experimenting with different fueling strategies during training is essential to find what works best for you.

Overall, training for the Berlin Marathon requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but with a solid training plan, cross-training, and proper nutrition, you can set yourself up for success on race day.

Race Day Experience

Start Area

On the day of the Berlin Marathon, I arrived at the start area early to avoid any last-minute rush.

The start area is located in Tiergarten Park, and it was easy to find my way there using public transportation. There were plenty of signs and volunteers to guide me toward the start line.

The start area was buzzing with excitement and energy, and it was an excellent opportunity to meet other runners worldwide.

The start area had many amenities, including toilets, food and drink stalls, and bag drop-off points. It was also well-organized, with different starting areas for other race times.

Course Description

The course of the Berlin Marathon is one of the fastest and flattest in the world, and it takes runners through the city’s most iconic landmarks and streets.

The course is well-marked and easy to follow, with plenty of water and aid stations.

The course is a loop that starts and ends in Tiergarten Park, and it takes runners through the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, and the Berlin Cathedral, among other landmarks.

The course is also lined with enthusiastic supporters, who cheer on runners and offer encouragement throughout the race.

Finish Line

The finish line of the Berlin Marathon is located in the same place as the start line, in Tiergarten Park.

The finish line area is well-organized, with plenty of amenities for runners, including food and drink stalls, toilets, and medical assistance.

After crossing the finish line, runners receive a medal and a finisher’s t-shirt. It’s great to complete the race and join the thousands of other runners who have accomplished the same feat.

Overall, the race day experience of the Berlin Marathon is one of the best in the world, with a well-organized start area, a fast and scenic course, and a memorable finish line.

Tips for First-Time Runners

As a first-time runner, getting into the Berlin Marathon can be a daunting task. However, you can make the most of your experience with the proper preparation.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the race.

Travel and Accommodation

When traveling to Berlin for the marathon, it is essential to plan your accommodation.

The city has many accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Booking your accommodation as early as possible is recommended, as hotels and hostels can fill up quickly.

In addition to accommodation, you should also plan your travel to and from the race. Berlin has a well-connected public transport system, and it is recommended to use this to get to the race start and finish.

You can also consider hiring a bike to explore the city after the race.

Pacing Strategy

Developing a pacing strategy is one of the most critical aspects of preparing for the Berlin Marathon.

It is essential to start slow and build up gradually, as the race can be challenging. Aiming to run comfortably for the first few miles and gradually increase your speed as you approach the halfway point would be best.

To help you develop your pacing strategy, you can use a pacing chart or calculator. This will help you determine your target pace for each mile of the race.

You can also use a GPS watch to track your pace during the race.

Mental Preparation

The Berlin Marathon can be a mentally challenging experience, and preparing yourself mentally and physically is essential. One way to do this is to visualize yourself crossing the finish line.

You can also set small goals during the race, such as reaching a mile marker or passing a runner.

Another way to prepare mentally is to practice positive self-talk. This involves positive affirmations to help you stay motivated and focused during the race. For example, you can repeat phrases such as “I am strong” or “I can do this” to yourself during the race.

With the proper preparation and mindset, getting into the Berlin Marathon and completing it as a first-time runner is achievable.

Remember to plan your travel and accommodation, develop a pacing strategy, and prepare yourself mentally for the race.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, getting into the Berlin Marathon is not easy but worth the effort.

As someone who has participated in the race multiple times, I can attest that it is one of the world’s most well-organized and enjoyable marathons.

Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind if you are considering running the Berlin Marathon:

  • Plan ahead: Registration for the marathon typically opens in October of the year before the race, so be sure to mark your calendar and set a reminder to sign up. Also, ensure you have all necessary travel arrangements well before the race.
  • Be prepared for the lottery: As mentioned earlier, the Berlin Marathon uses a lottery system for registration, so there is no guarantee that you will get in. However, other options, such as tour packages or charity entries, can increase your chances.
  • Train properly: The Berlin Marathon is a fast and flat course, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Follow a training plan appropriate for your fitness level and consider the course’s unique challenges.
  • Enjoy the experience: The Berlin Marathon is not just about the race but also about the city and the people. Take time to explore the sights and sounds of Berlin and soak up the energy of the crowds on race day.

Overall, the Berlin Marathon is a fantastic experience worth the effort and dedication required. With proper planning and preparation, anyone can have a successful and enjoyable race.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for the Berlin Marathon?

Registration for the Berlin Marathon is done through a lottery system. To enter the lottery, you must fill out an application on the official Berlin Marathon website during registration. The registration period for the 2023 Berlin Marathon has yet to be announced, but it usually opens in October or November of the previous year.

What are my chances of getting into the Berlin Marathon?

The odds of getting into the Berlin Marathon through the lottery system could be better. The race has received over 200,000 applications for approximately 44,000 spots in recent years. Unfortunately, your chances of getting in through the lottery are less than 20%. However, there are other ways to secure a spot in the race, such as through a tour operator or charity.

What is the Good For Age (GFA) entry standard for the Berlin Marathon?

The GFA entry standard for the Berlin Marathon is one of the toughest in the world. The bar is a sub-2:45 marathon time for men and a sub-3:00 marathon time for women. If you meet these standards, you are guaranteed a spot in the race, but you must still apply during the registration period.

Can I transfer my Berlin Marathon entry to someone else?

No, you cannot transfer your Berlin Marathon entry to someone else. The race has a strict no-transfer policy, and anyone caught running with someone else’s bib will be disqualified. However, if you cannot run the race, you can defer your entry to the following year for a fee.

What is the deadline for deferring my Berlin Marathon entry?

The deadline for deferring your Berlin Marathon entry is usually a few weeks before the race. The exact deadline for the 2023 race has yet to be announced, but it will be posted on the official Berlin Marathon website closer to the race date. If you miss the deadline, you cannot defer your entry and will forfeit your spot in the race.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.