So Sunday was the ING New York City Marathon. For the second year in a row I spent the day at Mile 24 where Front Runners New York run the fluid station. This year we added a cheer zone and I sort of co-captained that. We made it fun with costumes and so forth.
We were there from the time the first elite wheelchair racer came through
until the “support ends at this vehicle” vehicle came through.
It’s so inspiring to see everyone coming through. The elite wheelchair athletes are so focused – and in some cases they get so close to each other it’s incredible. The elite women came through just as the eventual winner (Dado) and second place runner (Deba) were beginning to close in on the eventual third place runner (Keitany). The elite men FLAT FLEW by. Geoffrey Mutai whizzed past going insanely fast, and it was at least 30 seconds before we even saw E. Mutai (2nd) and Kebede (3rd). G. Mutai’s time? 2:05:06. Now that’s just silliness!
Impressive silliness though. VERY impressive silliness.
And speaking of impressiveness, check out this guy…
I wish it was clearer so I could look up his bib. But I swear the roar of the crowd as he ran by was incredible. And I don’t think there was a dry eye around. (I’m welled up now as I’m typing this!!) It makes me appreciate all my runs, no matter how painful they are. It’s all about perspective.
Once the elites were through the masses started coming through. Based on what I’ve seen the past 2 years, Mile 24 seems to often be the spot where people realize they’re actually going to do it. We see the full range of emotions – joy, pain, determination…and yes, we can even see anger already when people realize they’re not going to make their goal. At one point in a glance across the course I could see literally every one of those emotions and more. Cheering all day was easy!!
Of course we also had to do crowd control as people insisted on moving out into the course. Even worse letting their little kids wander out and even sit down. It’s bad enough in general, but there comes a point in the day where the runners are totally blinded by the sun. I spoke with one father about moving himself and his sitting-on-the-ground child back, headed on down the line, and found them back out in the street on my way back. At this point I could see the sun the runners were running into so I just looked at the father and said “Turn around and look at what they’re running into. They are blinded and most definitely cannot see your child sitting on the ground. You’re putting them AND him at risk for serious injury!” When he saw the sun, he promptly picked up the child and moved back.
Also had to inform a few people that smoking is NOT allowed inside NYC parks. Yep, you read that right. People out spectating a marathon and so into it they kept pressing into the road were lighting up when runners would be passing within feet of them. IDIOTS! Thank goodness it IS illegal in city parks. And there were plenty of cops around so that had there been problems I could have gotten one.
When it got to the point where the 10:10 start wave was hitting 5:30 I was like “My people!!!!” since my stretch goal for Disney is 5:30. I’m guessing I’ll be closer to 6 in actuality, but I can dream. These are the people who we really got responses from – some were trudging along and yet when we called their name they looked up and smiled and started trying to push a little more. 🙂
A lot of people had their names on their shirts, which was great! (And oh the men I saw who needed Body Glide, Vaseline, and/or Nip Guards…it was painful to see the red spots on the shirts. OUCH!) However… Many of the people who did this also had their ears stuffed with ear buds. Now really…what’s the point of putting your name on your shirt to have people yell for you if you’re going to be plugged into music and not aware of it. I started purposely looking for those without earbuds/earphones to yell for, especially as I could tell my voice started to go.
Still, cheering for 7 hours was totally worth it. It inspired me to “werk!” (as one of our signs said) through my training for Disney. And yet it also terrified me seeing how some of the people limping through looked. I want to be confident I can do it. I know I need to be confident…it will just be an adventure for sure!
Oh, and if you ever wondered about the aftermath of a fluid station at a huge marathon?
Yeah…it’s a mess.
So January it’s Disney…and (most likely) next year? NYC!