In 2011, I started running at the age of 42, to lose weight and to get fit. During that year my running partner Catherine Potter and I made a list of race goals, which included the 2015 New York Marathon. Today is 1 November 2015 – New York Marathon day – and this is a short story about what it is like to run this amazing marathon.
The day starts at 4.45am, dressed and with my village bag packed. We’re on the bus at 6.15am – Catherine and I are off to the start line at Staten Island. It’s windy and cold, but nothing too bad and the day turns out to be a warm one.
We get through security and are finally into the village. This place is huge – now we just have to find the ‘Blue Area’. Everyone is allocated a colour and wave depending on your estimated run time at application. We grab some food and drink and find a spot on the grass to settle down until Wave 4 is called. Portaloos are everywhere.
At 10.20 it’s time to head to our corral. Once through the corral entrance there are more loos, so a final quick stop before the long run. It is now just before 11am and we are the last wave to go. The American national anthem is sung, a cannon goes off and Frank Sinatra’s New York plays around us.
Over the start line we go onto the Verrazano Narrow Bridge. This is a steady incline but nothing too bad and the view is amazing. Mile 1 is ticked off half way across the bridge. Mile 2 off the bridge and we enter Brooklyn. You can hear drums and then finally see the crowds. We course through and around some streets and onto Fourth Avenue.
At Mile 3 we reach the first of the drink stations. From here there are drink stations are at every mile. They are long and on both sides – first tables are the Gatorade and then water. I grab a water and keep going.
This part of the run is long, straight, flat and the streets are very wide. Crowds flank us on both sides, just cheering us on. Miles 4, 5, 6, (10km) 7 and 8 are all ticked off along Fourth Avenue. Finally we turn at the Mile 9 mark, and the streets become narrower, the drinks stations a bit more crowded.
Still in Brooklyn and still the crowds are out cheering. Mile 10, 11, 12, 13 down, and we’re nearly half way. Up and over the Pulaski Bridge, a short steady incline and we hit the half way point at 21.1km.
We enter Queens at Mile 14, where we head up and over the Queensboro Bridge. For me, this was the hardest part of the course. The bridge incline is long and tough. Some runners stopped to take selfies of the view, I just kept moving. Catherine ran ahead and this is where I lost her (she runs hills better than me).
Manhattan suddenly welcomes us. First Avenue is wide, long and has a slight incline, but I don’t find it too taxing and the crowds are amazing. At Mile 17 there are sponges all over the ground and at Mile 18 (30km) I grab a Chocolate Powergel, which gives me an energy hit so I don’t hit the wall. I run up and over the pretty flat Willis Ave. Bridge and I am now in the Bronx. With Mile 20 and 21 done, there are only 5 miles to go.
We run over 138th Bridge and back onto Manhattan Island. My legs are really starting to burn now. Miles 22 and 23 are a killer along Fifth Avenue, with an incline that just keeps going. My head starts telling me to just stop and rest, but I keep going and have to run around everyone who’s now walking. Finally I’m at the top. I’m at Mile 24 and run into Central Park.
There are only 2kms to go. I run out of Central Park, onto Fifth Avenue again and along Central Park South. Heaps of people are walking at this stage, so I keep to the right and have a clear path around them. I see a sign saying there are just 800 metres to go. ‘Yes, I can do this.’
I pick up the pace, run around Columbus Circle and back into Central Park for the final stretch home. Mile 26 throws me the final incline, right before the finish line and there it is, I cross the finish line in 5.07hrs.
First stop, the medal I have worked so hard for. Catherine finds me and we hug. She crossed the line just 5 minutes ahead of me, with a time of 5.02hrs. Next we have our photo taken with our medals. We are wrapped in a space blanket and given a bag with water, an apple, an energy bar, some pretzel’s etc. Then, the long walk out My legs and feet are feeling very sore now. Finally, we exit Central Park and are given our post-race ponchos, which are fleece-lined and warm. It is now about 5pm, it’s starting to get dark and the walk back to the hotel continues.
The New Yorkers make this marathon. I don’t think I would have made it without them. They line the course in its entirety, call out your name, and tell you you’ve got this. You can do it. For any runner, the New York Marathon is a must for your bucket list, it is like no other race in the world.
Today is 1 November, 2015. It was a long but rewarding day. The most amazing experience. A day I will never forget.
Words by Lil Broomby