I had to pay for my chip for Munich too. I think there is a way that you can get your money back for returning it, but I never bothered (it's still on my old trainers!) With the Germans being mega environmentally friendly I expect they do it to make sure they get re-used / recycled.
I can't really help with accommodation I'm afraid. The public transport system is great in Munich, so as long as you stay near to an S-Bahn or U-Bahn station in a central zone then you can't really go wrong.
I ran it in 2010 after doing London in the same year. My thoughts:
- As you'd expect from the Germans the organisation is great. The toilet facilities are OK at the start and end, I didn't use any en route. The drinks stations are good (there's alcohol-free beer at one of the drinks stations near the end of the course!) and you also get beer at the finish line. I don't remember there being any gels at the drinks stations though.
- Finishing in the Olympic stadium is a fantastic experience - I would probably do the race for that alone.
- Flat course
- The atmosphere isn't great. Large stretches of the route don't have any supporters at all and those that are there tend to be waiting for friends and family and don't cheer anyboy else on at all. I felt a bit like a monkey in the zoo when running it as people just stand and stare until somebody they know comes along!
On balance I agree with MM that I'm glad I did it. I might do it again, but only because I live in Bavaria - I'm not sure I would travel especially to do it again. The finish in the Olympic stadium really is special though and Munich is a great city to visit.
Hopefully the weather will be good for the race this year. We've had 8 months of winter this year (I can still see snow from my window as we speak!), which means that hopefully we'll have a nice summer and autumn.
Go for it - you've already covered the distance, so now you can concentrate on getting your time down. Having said that, I don't think you need to worry as there will be plenty other people taking 2.5 hours + to finish. (I did my first half in about that time).
If you need any more reassurance, check the finishing times for any races you're thinking about running in - that way you'll see how many people there are with slower finishing times.
I'm trying to decide between Rome and Paris. Rome has an advantage in that my brother in law lives nearby so I could save on accommodation hassle. But then Paris is on my birthday! Decisions decisions! I'm liking the look of the Lake Garda one later in the year too!