As promised in early October, I was able to convince my Cruiser bestie Beth that my readers would love to relive her 2011 New York City Marathon race experience with her in celebration of today’s running of the marathon. Without further ado, here is Beth’s forth guest post on Deb Runs.
Today is the 43rd running of the NYC Marathon, just one year after it was cancelled in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. I was fortunate to run the marathon the year prior (it was my 13th marathon), and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!
That experience began at the Jacob Javits Center where the marathon expo was held. The moment I entered, I knew this would be a race like none other. I had run in a few large scale marathons before (Marine Corps and Chicago), but nothing like this!
In the expo, after doing a ton of shopping, browsing and picture taking, I came across a large tribute to Grete Waitz, winner of nine consecutive NYC marathons, 1978-1988. She had passed away in April 2011, just 7 months before the marathon.
I love this quote from Grete:
Everyone wins the marathon. We all have the same feeling at the start—nervous, anxious, and excited. It is a broader, richer, and even with twenty-seven thousand people—more intimate experience than I found when racing in track. New York is the marathon that all the biggest stars want to win, but has also been the stage for an array of human stories more vast than any other sporting event.
The NYC Marathon is famous for traversing all five NY boroughs – starting in Staten Island, moving through Brooklyn, into Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan, up into the Bronx, and then finishing back in Manhattan in Central Park.
There are three ways you can get to the starting line – by car, by Staten Island Ferry, or by bus from Midtown. I chose the last option, since my husband and I were staying at one of the Midtown race hotels. I rose at ~ 4 AM, and was off for the bus a little after 5 AM.
I loved the international feel of the race. On my ride to Staten Island, I sat next to a man originally from Israel, currently living in Berlin. It was his dream to run the NYC Marathon and he and his wife had turned their trip into a week-long vacation, like so many other foreign travelers.
The starting line area at Fort Wadsworth was transformed into an athlete’s village, where I also felt the global nature of the race. Announcements were constant and delivered in several languages. I felt like I was an Olympian!! The signs were well designed and the sections were very organized. A good thing because there were over 45,000 participants that day! Truly an amazing logistical feat.
It was in the mid-thirties and very cold that morning. We all dressed warmly, but had plans to donate our clothes to the numerous drop-off points leading up to the starting line. Some runners were smart enough to bring cardboard boxes which worked well as temporary sleeping mats that kept them dry and warm over the frosty ground. We waited for about 2-3 hours, so we had plenty to time to ponder the journey ahead.
This photo was taken of me just moments before I dropped off my gear in one of the numerous UPS trucks.
I started in the second of three waves, in the far left group in the photo below. We started at about 10:10am, an hour after the elite women and ½ hour after the lead men and the first wave. The “Theme from New York, New York” blared as we crossed the starting line!
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was a long, approximately one mile uphill at the start of the race. However, no one seemed to care as we were all so excited to be part of the biggest spectacle in running!
This photo shows you how crowed the race was (there was barely room to spit)! I am just about to cross the 10K mark in Brooklyn.
The spectators were by far the best part of the race. Two million strong, they covered nearly the entire race course, often several people deep. I loved looking at their creative and inspiring signs shared along the way. In addition to the funny one below, my other favorites were “Get the #%^ out of Brooklyn” and “Run like you stole something.”
I gave numerous kids and adults alike high and low fives, and thanked the many volunteers who made the day possible.
I also saw some interesting sights before, during, and after the marathon. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I don’t have any photos to share. Let’s just say I saw more of some runners than I ever needed to see!
The winner of the 2011 marathon was Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, and he broke the course record with a time of 2:05:06 (and he won again today)!
I finished well behind him with a time of 4:36:23. He’s lucky he got a head start!
The race was truly awesome. I cried at the beginning – so thankful I was able to be part of such an incredible event – and I cried at the end, exhausted, but thrilled I made the journey through the boroughs.
I went a little overboard on my gear purchases, but they definitively gave some good swag, too.
The days following the race, we stayed in NYC to do some additional sightseeing and enjoy the city. I was amazed to see so many fellow runners, many from around the world, who stayed and also continued to tour the city. We saw several marathoners still wearing their medals, even days after, so proud that they were able to be part of such an incredible event.
- Have you run the New York City Marathon?
- Have you ever been to NYC? If so, what was your favorite experience?
- Did you watch it on TV today?