New York City Marathon Part 1

On Sunday, I went to my third, and last, of the weekend races.  The Olympic trials and the International Fun Run both had participants; but the Marathon is a lot bigger than them.  A lot bigger.  I’m told that 38,000 runners were expected.  It’s amazing and interesting that so many want to endure such pain, but more power to them, I guess.

The Marathon itself covers all five NYC boroughs (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx).  It actually hits Manhattan twice.  First, the runners start in Staten Island and cross the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn.  They run through there to Queens and cross into Manhattan on the 59th Street Bridge.  They then run up 1st Avenue and cross into the Bronx.  It’s just a short jaunt through the Bronx and then back to Manhattan where they run through Central Park to the finish.

I decided to watch the first Manhattan portion of the run, so I went to the Upper East Side and did a little wandering well before the start.  I emerged onto 1st Avenue at about 88th Street and decided to grab some breakfast.  Strangely, I didn’t find a place I wanted to eat as I walked along 1st until I reached the low-80s and grabbed a bagel.  As I emerged with my bagel, I saw the first of the racers.  Not a runner:  a racer.

 20071104-ny-marathon-01-first-wheelchair-at-1101-am.jpg

I was aware that the first of the Marathoners were wheelchair racers, but this guy (and the subsequent racers) were amazing.  The guy zipped by like a shot.   

Then, I went looking for a good place to stand.  As I went, I saw several more of them.  Three minutes after the first…

20071104-ny-marathon-03-second-wheelchair-at-1104am.jpg

You can see the bicycle escort.  Virtually all of the leaders in the different groups had escorts, but the wheelchair racers had them more often.  It was probably a lot more fun for the bike riders to accompany them rather than the runners.  I mean, these guys were going pretty fast.

One minute after the second racer came a small group.

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There were a bunch of these racers that passed by over time.  Even if I wanted to post all of their pictures, some of them were moving so fast that all I got were blurs.

I passed by one of the water stations and then settled down just south of one of them.  I was between 77th Street and 78th Street.  This was at about the 17 mile mark of the marathon.

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You’ll note that there was very little crowd for the first racers.  I have to hand it to those who were there early.  The racers certainly heard a lot of encouragement.  But of all the cheering crowds, nobody matched the people manning the Poland Water station.

Some more racers.

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Below’s a real blurry one, but I like the posture.

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You can see the style of the wheelchair above is different.  He’s got a hand-cranked bike format called a “handcycle”.  As I understand it, they are considered different classes of racers and even had different start times.

20071104-ny-marathon-11-wheelchair-racer.jpg

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Just amazing stuff.  These people were really pushing themselves.  The place I was in was at the bottom of a long hill and right before a long uphill portion.  Some of the racers were coming in in a state of near exhaustion.  The woman in the next two pictures was “hitting the wall” so to speak as she came up to the area across from me.  Her escorts, at least at this point, were running behind her.

20071104-ny-marathon-17-wheelchair-racer-with-running-escort.jpg

She then just totally stopped for a period of about six minutes.  You could tell we were all rooting for her to continue.  The crowd at this point was just starting to grow.  (My side of the street was a lot more crowded than the other side.)

20071104-ny-marathon-18-wheelchair-racer-with-escorts-on-break.jpg

Do you see the crowd looking southward in the picture above?  They’re looking at the first of the runners who were approaching.

But that’s the subject of another post.

-H

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