Last winter, in a pensive moment, I thought about the running goals I wanted to achieve in 2018. One of the early thoughts that came up was to consider the New York Marathon, the largest running event in the world.
Once I had taken the decision, booked the trip and received my starting number, I stepped up my training rate, completed lots of kilometers training and participated in smaller competitions in the surroundings of Minden in preparation for the big day.
On the day I arrived in New York, my first touristic highlight was the Halloween Parade in Downtown Manhattan. This is where I recognized the city’s personality as the world’s multi-cultural capital. People from all four corners of the world participated in the colorful and garish party with no limits to the imagination. Returning to the hotel, I was introduced to New York as the city that never sleeps; a city that pulses with life around the clock; and where store closing times simply don’t exist.
The next morning I left the hotel for my first training run in Central Park. I was joined by runners from many countries who cheered each other on and jointly looked forward to coming Sunday.
I picked up my marathon number at the marathon fair, which is common at marathon events, where one can purchase running utensils and various products. Here I recognized the organizational talent shown by the organizers. Despite the number of runners exceeding the 50 000 mark, there were no lines and procedures were smooth.
Another highlight of the trip was the Circle Line boat tour around the island of Manhattan. From the water I had a perfect view of the majestic skyline and the Statue of Liberty. I was able to see parts of the marathon route and the bridges we were going to cross on Sunday.
On the Saturday preceding the marathon, the so-called “Dash to the Finish” run was carried out. This is a short-distance run starting at the United Nations Building and ending five kilometers later at the Marathon finish line. During this short warm-up I was able to absorb the unforgettable atmosphere along the route in joyful anticipation of the final “big” run the next day.
Marathon Sunday began very early. The bus picked us up at 05:45 a.m. and took us to Staten Island, New York’s most southerly borough, where the marathon starts. We crossed the enormous Verrazano-Narrows Bridge across which later we were going to start in the opposite direction. Following several security gates and at the end of waiting time the starting signal sounded in style with Frank Sinatra‘s “New York, New York”. The route took us through all five of New York City’s boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan with the finish line in Central Park.
Owing to perfect weather conditions and despite the physical effort – the route is considered very difficult owing to the differences in altitude – we were able to enjoy the unbelievable atmosphere along the route. Crowds of enthusiastic people, gospel choirs, rock bands and disc-jockeys cheered the runners on their route to Manhattan. Several days before the start, our tour guide warned that our ears would ring for days following the run owing to the high volume along the route, which I can now confirm.
On the final kilometers along Central Park, and despite recognizably tired legs, we were “carried along by the masses” toward the Finish line. My time was 3 hours, 54 minutes and 28 seconds, and I had completed the run through five New York boroughs.
We were handed our medal at the Finish line and I celebrated along with hundreds of other runners in New York. Carrying the medal around the neck, we returned to our hotels. Lots of people congratulated us, I often heard them saying “Good Job”, reflecting New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for sports and their open nature.
That evening, our tour organizers arranged an After Race Party during which I talked with many co-runners about our experiences, and after a few drinks, the day took a very happy end.
On the last day of our trip we visited the 9/11 Museum which documents the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. The museum is located at the foot of the destroyed buildings, providing a very emotional impression of the events that happened 17 years ago.
We subsequently traveled to the airport and returned to Germany with a heavy load of impressions.
This year, I was not the only participant from Siegfried Minden to face the challenges of the New York Marathon: Bernd Möhle also successfully finished the run, and his experiences match mine.
Our joint conclusion therefore is: We recommend the Marathon to anyone wishing to explore the metropolis of New York in a different way and in the company of 50 000 other people. We are both certain to return to the Big Apple when circumstances permit.