Tuesday, November 3, 2009


To my knowledge, I am in none of these photos. However, they represent for me some of some of the best images I will savour from this past Sunday's 40th anniversary New York City Marathon: the distinct borough neighbourhoods and crowds...

the beckoning Manhattan skyline...

the fantastic entertainment all along the route...

and of course the finish line in Central Park finally within reach...

All in all, it was not my best race: 3:42:10, which is 20 minutes off my PB in Australia this summer. But I have to remind myself that I've been injured and haven't had much time to train. Plus the New York course is damn hard: those long bridges that just won't end and that steady rise along 5th Avenue to Central park right at the end are especial killers. I also went out too hard at the beginning and after a while my legs just started to quit.

Still, I wasn't really running for a fast time. More for the experience of the event itself. Believe me, 40,000+ people running across the Verrazano Bridge all at once is quite something to behold--I'm just sad I was in the green wave, which started on the lower deck. The crowds were fantastic, and seeing the diversity of neighbourhoods, and how people greeted you was certainly a lesson in performance studies. To say nothing of all the bands: marching; gospel; rock; funk; etc. I'm pretty sure I saw Beck playing for us in Brooklyn, which is pretty amazing.

Got to talk to some interesting people pre- and post-race as well. The first wave of runners had to be at the Staten Island Ferry at 5:30 am, and we didn't start to run until 9:40, so there was plenty of time to mill about. I had conversations with local New Yorkers about Obama, gay marriage, universal health care (being Canadian was a definite conversation starter on the latter two), Mayor Bloomberg buying a third term, and where to eat the best Italian in Manhattan. I also talked with a Scotsman who has run more that 100 marathons. He was my age, so depending on when he got the bug, he must do between 5 and 10 a year, which is pretty amazing.

Finally, while lining up to collect my gear at the end I talked with a man from Atlanta who works for ING, the banking company that sponsors the event. He was running because the company gets a certain amount of free spots in the race each year, and he managed to score one this time round. I complimented him on the free stuff and cool gear we got in our loot bags. He said he'd pass it along to the higher-ups. Then he told me the bank was on the verge of financial collapse.

Glad I ran my race this year.


P.S. The trip was otherwise pretty mellow. Went to the new New Museum on the Bowery for the first time; saw a compelling William Blake exhibit at the Morgan; and caught a revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's The Royal Family on Broadway, with the divine Rosemary Harris and Jan Maxwell in the lead mother-daughter roles. A backstage satire loosely based on the Barrymore acting clan, this remount by director Doug Hughes (of Frozen and Doubt fame) was crisp and contemporary, with the entire company in fine form (especially Reg Rogers as a swashbuckling stand-in for John Barrymore, complete with rapier scene), and a sumptuous set design by John Lee Beatty that perfectly captures over-stuffed Upper East Side glamour from the 1920s.

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