In just her second-ever marathon, Whistler's Lindsay Burch went up against international competition and placed 27th in her age group during the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sept. 29.
Burch's first full marathon came in New York two years ago. It's one of the few events that will allow a runner to qualify with a half-marathon time, and when she completed the race in three hours, 10 minutes and 47 seconds (3:10:47), unlocked the opportunity to race at countless events all over the world.
Burch explained she sees racing as a chance to travel as much as anything else, so with the world as her oyster, selected Berlin as her next challenge.
"Based on the fact that Berlin's a city I have always wanted to visit, I thought that would be a good next step," she said.
Based on her qualifying time, Burch was seeded to start near the front of the race. While, with 50,000 runners from all over the world, there was the potential to be confined to some tight spaces, Burch was glad to avoid that for the most part.
"There were a few moments, for sure, where I felt claustrophobic and boxed in, and definitely there were some sharp elbows," she said. "But because I was able to get a position up near the front, it opened up pretty well."
Burch acknowledged that her training hadn't gone to plan leading up to the race, but felt the horizontal course was a plus for her. She entered hoping to top her New York time, crossing the finish line at Brandenburg Gate with a 3:07:29 mark.
"When you don't have to climb Whistler hills, it looks a little easier," she said. "Before setting any kind of a goal, I was going to wait and see how my training went and I didn't feel fantastic. At some point, I thought Berlin was maybe the place to break three hours, but my training just didn't go super duper well.
"I wanted to beat my time from New York, for sure, and I did that."
Being new to the marathon distance, Burch acknowledged that she's still nailing down the ebbs and flows of distance running. Even though she entered not feeling pristine, the first three-quarters of the race went well, but the final quarter, in a torrential downpour, provided its share of issues.
"It's really long. I felt amazing for the first 32 kilometres, and then the last 10 kms of a marathon, it's so physically and mentally challenging," she said. "By the end, you're just absolutely, completely mentally and physically shattered.
"It's really hard to pace yourself. At the beginning, I really had to hold back. I felt like for the first half, I could have gone considerably faster.
"But knowing that you have 42 kms to complete, it's hard knowing how far to hold back."
Berlin is a course that is conducive to runners earning quick times, as the new world record was set there in 2018, and Burch noted countless runners flock to Germany as they chase personal bests.
"It's flat and it's a course that flows really nicely," she said. "They obviously pride themselves on being a fast marathon course."
In the future, Burch will look into racing closer to home to avoid jetlag, which hampered her in Germany. However, travelling to race in London or Tokyo intrigues her as well.
Also in Berlin, Christine Suter raced, finishing in 4:13:52.