Race Report – The Long Version
We arrived at Newark a little after one on Saturday and took a shuttle to the Hilton which was the host hotel. Checked in and headed for the expo around 3:00pm. Literally set our bags in the room and ran out because the expo closed at 5pm. You had to get your number and chip at the expo. Rode another shuttle to the expo to find that all they had were large and x-large t-shirts left. That was a bummer, but we got our stuff on time and that was good.
We had tickets for the 6:45 pasta party dinner at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Arrived around 6 and by the time we made it through the long line we were eating at 6:46. It was a huge tent with lots of round tables and on all the tent walls there were big screens advertising Barilla pasta – showing TV commercials. Seventies disco music was blasting out – really loud. The tables had boxes of pasta and balloons for centerpieces. We got cookies and cereal bars for dessert. As we left around 7:30pm they had fireworks in Central Park. That was a sight to see.
Race day: Got up 4:45am. Left hotel 5:45 Walked about 11 blocks to the Public Library and there was a huge line of charter busses stretched down as far as you could see on the street. A line wrapped around the building and volunteers counted off people and loaded us in to busses. Busses were available from 5:00-7:00am. I sat next to a German guy who lived in Texas- he spoke very little English. We rode to Staten Island and as we went into the Brooklyn tunnel I noticed that they were doing vehicle checks before you went through the tunnel. I guess terrorist security. The start/staging area was at Fort Wadsworth. I guess it is a park. Only athletes could go in. This was divided into three sections and your race bib was either blue, orange, or green. In each of these areas you would find a station with coffee and tea, bagels, powerbars and yogurt drinks. People walked around carrying cases of bottle water and handed those out. There was a main stage with a band. And a big tent that held a worship service that I went to at 8:15. Worship was fun we sang and had scripture. You were also given a big clear bag that you pasted your preprinted information on the outside of. This was for items you wanted to retrieve at the end. I had brought a baby blanket that I wrapped my legs in prior to the race, and a free paper jacket that they gave out at the expo to wear after the race along with some cheap gloves for afterwards if I was cold. I had to go to the green #37 UPS truck and give them my bag. Imagine a row of UPS trucks in each of the stages. You know going to the bathroom is an obsession for us runners prior to a race so there were long lines at the numerous portapotties. They also had the world’s longest urinal, which was a long plastic trough that ran along a fence and drained into a pumping station connected to a truck. Guys just lined up outside and did their thing.
Around 9:45 I went to my green corral area. Your number is based on your best time and you line up by signs with number groups. I went up a little closer by the 4:00 pace group. The pace group leader will carry a stick with green (in our case) balloons that have 4:00 written in black marker on them. People sign up and wear 4:00 green bibs on their back and try to stay by the pace leader. I didn’t sign up but thought I might see how long I could hang with this bunch. 10:10 they fired a cannon and Frank Sinatra could be heard singing “New York, New York.” I crossed the starting line around 10:21; that should give you and idea of the crowd size.
The green group was on the bottom of the bridge (it is a two story bridge.) I got near the side and could see the ships spraying water in the harbor, it was a beautiful sight. The bridge was around 1 ½ miles long. It has a nice long uphill the first half. There were 5 other bridges on the course. As we got off the bridge we exited on to a freeway that had been closed to vehicles. People were standing on the overpass yelling “Welcome to Brooklyn!” Forty percent of the runners are international and I saw an Asian guy wearing a shirt that said “Got Rice?”
As we got off the bridge the green runners went to the right on a different street than the orange and blue. The two courses joined together around mile 3 I think and then I found myself surrounded by the orange 4:30 pace group. I was dodging and passing runners as best I could in the crowd and didn’t catch up to the leader with the balloons until around mile 11. By that time I knew that a PR probably wasn’t going happen for me. It is really difficult to move in the tight crowd and people would abruptly just stop-in the middle of the road. They wouldn’t get to the side and then walk, oh no, just stop and then you have to swerve around them.
Tons of spectators were along the course, bands, boomboxes and stereos blasting from people’s homes. The people were so nice they would hand out hard candy and gum and bring out rolls of paper towels and give them out to the runners. I saw lots of NYPD and firemen in their ladder trucks. You didn’t see that in Chicago and I couldn’t help but remember 9/11 as I saw them.
Went through Queens next and they had a huge sign as you exited Queens that said “Run the next 11.2 miles like you’ve got Queens behind you.”
Along the course in some spots the spectators were 10 deep and filled the entire sidewalk.
When you are in the middle of the pack like me there are lots of fun people around you. Whenever we went under bridges it echoed a lot so everyone would yell and it was LOUD and fun.
Water stations began after the 3 mile mark and thereafter every mile. Every other mile you had the choice of water or Gatorade. Imagine all the paper cups on the street and it was wet-so wet that a lady next to me said “The streets are flowing with Gatorade.”
It was hot and some where around maybe miles 17 and 19 they had Sponge Bob Stations and volunteers handed out small sponges that had cold water on them so you could rub them on you-refreshing!
You enter the north end of Central park between mile 22 and 23 and at mile 25 it goes downhill. Big screens showing runners and lots of bleachers at the finish line. It was thrilling. When it was it over it took me over a 1 ½ hours to get back to the hotel after I finished. Lots of walking to get your medal, space blanket, chip removed. When I arrived at my UPS truck it was chaotic. About 30 frustrated runners with their bibs in the hands held up and workers calling out numbers and throwing drop bags. I waited around 10 or so minutes and figured I didn’t need that stuff. I didn’t see any other UPS truck with this problem, so it was just and odd thing. You exit the park at the north end and have to go through all the family and friend waiting areas-again color coded and alphabetized; loud speakers announce instructions in many different languages. Looking at the map I’d guess that between the finish and all the ups truck stuff, medals, space blankets, and chip removal – family meeting areas and walk to the hotel, I’d venture to guess I walked 4 miles after the finish line.
Sunday evening we went to Times Square, had pizza, roamed around and I went to bed early. Got up early Monday went to the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero. Flight home 6pm. Quite an eventful 3 days!
Click here for a video of the course