This weekend I went on an adventure. I flew to New York to take part in the New York City Marathon! One of our challenges is to complete all of the 6 Abbott World Marathon Majors, these include London, Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo, New York and Boston. New York was my 5th of the 6th and leaves just Boston remaining to complete.
I booked my trip through Sports Tours International, who arrange package holidays for many major sporting events. I booked a flight and entry package meaning I needed to book my hotel and transfers separately, but full travel packages are available.
I flew out on Friday morning and landed in NYC on Friday afternoon, I headed straight to the Expo where I met up with my friend Antonio who was also in New York for the race. We picked up our race numbers, wandered round the merchandise stalls, took some photos and soaked up the atmosphere. It had been a long day of travelling for me, so after the Expo it was time for dinner and an early night for me.
Saturday I took part in the Abbott Dash to the finish line. A 5km event that many runners use as a shake out run the day prior to the marathon, but also serves as the USA Track and Field 5km championship race. Over 10,000 people took part in this event and the atmosphere was incredible. I ran with Antonio, and we took it nice and steady, testing our legs, recovering from the flight and taking in the sights. It was great and we got a really cute bobble hat for our participation.
The rest of Saturday was dedicated to eating and resting, with an amazing brunch, and afternoon of snoozing and a pasta dinner I was well prepared for the race on Sunday.
Sunday morning and we were booked on the 6.30am bus. Now the New York Marathon is pretty unique, with over 50,000 participants you can imagine it to be a logistical nightmare? But to add to this they transport all the runners to a start area on Staten Island, this involves a lot of buses and some ferries to get all the participants to the start area. But the process was incredibly smooth, show up at the New York Public Library, join a moving queue, get on a bus, approximately an hour later arrive at the start. For quite a complex logistics process it was so easy to follow and stress free.
Once through security and in the start area they have start villages labelled to match the colour of the start waves, participants can drop off their bags for the finish line (if they have chosen to have a bag drop), get a bagel and some tea or coffee, there is plenty of space to rest and relax and all the participants were happy and excited to get going on this iconic event. Race day was great weather, 12 degrees and bright blue sky! This made everyone smile, I am sure it would have been less pleasant if it had been cold or raining.
Time in the start passed pretty quickly and before I knew it it was time to take off my extra clothing layers, add them to the charity donation bins and head to the start coral. I was in Wave 4, start section B. Once in the corals it was a quick process and a short walk to get runners to the start line, then a sound of the cannon and the race was underway.
The first section is uphill onto and over the Staten Island bridge, then downhill off the bridge and this is where it feels like the course starts as the first 2 miles on the bridge are quite surreal, there are no crowds on this section, just thousands of runners and great views! The race takes in 5 boroughs, from Staten Island, into Brooklyn, onto Queens, part of Manhattan, then through the Bronx and ends in Manhattan in Central Park. The whole course is amazingly well supported, with almost every meter of the side lines taken up with people cheering, supporting, playing music, holding signs and generally being amazing and ensuring the runners stay lively and motivated.
I ran along quite happily until half marathon distance and by then I had tired a bit, my legs were quite heavy, it hadn’t been long since my Ironman. I had wondered whether this race was a bad idea, it was close to the Ironman, would this event be too much strain for my body? But having got to half way I was pretty sure I would make it to the end, just unfortunately this would be a bit slower than I may have liked.
The course isn’t as flat as you might imagine a city race to be, with some bridges, and plenty of sloping streets the elevation definitely added to the challenge. I hadn’t trained for this race, so the long distance coupled with the inclines meant my hips and hamstrings took a bit more of the strain than they should have done, but they held up well enough. I’m sorry legs!!!
From 16 miles I started to slow considerably and walked up some inclines, jogging down them and just making the best headway I could. But the crowds were incredible and with so many other runners around it never felt lonely and I was never demotivated, I kept persevering. Soon enough I was back in Manhattan, running alongside Central Park (did you know 5th Avenue is uphill?) this was a bit evil! Then into the park, through the crowds, knowing there was less than 5km to the finish line. All of a sudden it became real, I knew the race was nearly over and I would get to the finish of the 5th of my 6 majors challenge!
Then the finish line was in sight and a few minutes later my race was done! I made it!!!!
I collected my finishers medal! Took a cheeky selfie with the finish line in the background and I was done!
I had opted for a poncho rather than bag drop so I followed the crowds to pick up my poncho and head out of the park.
Antonio was finished in amazing time but had waited outside the park and we shuffled back towards our hotels together! Marathon completed.
Every race says they are the best in the world, and claims to have the best crowds, but I think New York may actually be right! It was amazing, the organisation, the atmosphere, the route, the crowds. It really does have it all…
Now I just need to find a way of gaining entry into Boston Marathon…