What a race, what a city

Illustration by Jim Carroll
Illustration by Jim Carroll

On Nov. 3 my morning started with the 8 a.m. ferry to Staten Island, where I was surrounded by runners from around the world. There were five gentlemen on my left from Chile, while runners from Japan sat to my right. As we sailed past the Statue of Liberty, many got up and took photos. I felt like I was on a steamer ship coming into New York harbor circa 1910, minus the dysentery. It was neat.

After the ferry I was shuttled to the start, where most of us were dressed in mismatching winter clothes to fight the cold Staten Island morning temperatures. As the race started, people discarded their extra clothing (which is collected and given to charity) and set off for the 26.2 mile journey to Central Park. Supportive crowds lined the entire course, at times cheering me on by name. I would like to think they were all avid On The Run readers, but it was probably due to the fact that I wrote my name in big letters on the front of my shirt (a common practice amongst marathon runners). This made it personal, and not in a “Rambo sneaks behind enemy lines seeking revenge” kind of way, but in a “we’re all in this together” kind of way.

As I ran through all five boroughs, I occasionally made eye contact with individuals who cheered me on. Those faces will surely stay with me for some time. Those fans made for some big moments, like first entering Manhattan off the Queensboro Bridge, and of course crossing the finish line itself.

I finished with 4:18:58, and I was happy with the race I ran. For me, however, the real story wasn’t my final time — it was those cheering crowds who made me feel part of something bigger.

Although training for a marathon is an individual experience, it’s also a collective one at the same time — one shared with other runners, as well as friends and family. On that note, I’d like to thank all those who supported me on this journey. I also want to thank the people at Metro for the opportunity to write this series.

Mostly I want to thank you, the residents of NYC for making the marathon, well, more than just a marathon.

The next day I got up and went into work, joining the anonymous shuffle that is the New York City commute. I looked around the subway car at the faces of my fellow New Yorkers, wondering if any of them had run with me on Sunday, perhaps even finding one of those faces that cheered me on. At that moment I realized that I’d grown even closer to the city I love and that loved me back so much on Marathon Sunday.

Thanks again — it’s been a great ride.


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