Watching one is nearly as good.
For the past few years, Melissa — one of the cool chicks who reads this blog — and I have cheered ING New York City Marathon runners at mile 21 in the Bronx. We usually stand at a spot right before the course rounds a corner and spits the runners out toward the Madison Avenue Bridge.
We usually arrive around 1:30 p.m., when those who’ll finish in 4:20 or longer are cruising by. Invariably, some runners are still going strong and smiling as they pass. Some are grimacing and limping. The longer we’re out there, the slower the pace. By the time we leave around 4 p.m., most marathoners are walking. Some of them are leaning on friends or volunteers or each other. They’ve got five miles and change to go, and it’s getting dark and cold.
But they keep on going. And that is a fantastic thing to see.
Now before I get all Chariots of Fire on you, let’s recap some other cool ING New York Marathon weekend stuff:
Friday fiver: I took part in the NYRR 5, a five-miler held in Central Park on Friday at 8 a.m. I was surprised at how many marathoners did the race, too; if I have to cover 26.2 miles on a Sunday, you’d better believe my feet will do as little as possible in the days before. At the finish line, I saw Jared Fogle, of Subway fame, who was there to promote his own run in the marathon. In my post-run euphoria, I yelled, “Jared, you’re awesome!” He responded in kind. Say what you will, but anyone who runs and loves Subway is fine by me.
Faces in the crowd: Meliss dubbed me a “celebrity runner spotter” because I picked out buzzed-about marathoners, such as the aforementioned Jared (who was an easy get, as he was running surrounded by four or five dudes with SUBWAY on their shirts), and Today hosts Meredith Viera (who looked genuinely excited when we cheered her name) and Al Roker (who was in pretty rough shape when he passed us). And let us not forget Chilean miner Edison Pena, who was going strong despite knee issues when he ran past. All of them wound up finishing the race.
Gazelles: Before I headed up to the Bronx, I watched the elite runners do their thing on NBC. Edna Kiplicat took first place for the women, and Gebre Gebremariam broke the tape for the men. I tried to explain to The Fiancé why watching them do their thing moves me in a way that watching other pro athletes does not. “I don’t know how tough it is to play baseball or football, not really. But I know how hard it is to run, no matter who you are, and they make it look effortless and beautiful.”
Double duty: This chick, a documentary filmmaker, strapped a camera to her hat and filmed the entire race. WARNING: If you get motion sick easily, you may not want to watch.
Next year, in Staten Island…: So all of this ING New York Marathon fever has gotten to me, because I’m making plans to do it myself in 2011. If I complete four more New York Road Runners races before the end of the year, I’m guaranteed entry through their 9+1 program. (Very cool; tri-state area runners, check it out.) And yes, I’m still likely going to have problems with my feet next year. And yes, the last time I did New York I walk-ran the last few miles because of a tight IT band. But if the insanely inspiring athletes I saw in wheelchairs, on prosthetics, without sight and/or hearing can make the commitment, so can I.
Doesn’t hurt, of course, that Tiffany is now offering a line of ING New York Marathon commemorative items. You hear that, TF?