- 47,438 runners. That's a new high water mark for NYC, the biggest marathon in the world.
- 130 countries represented. For a little perspective, only 120 countries are in the Olympics.
- 3 million+ live spectators. That's 10x what the Olympics will bring, and about the equivalent of all of Norway showing up (and based on how many Norwegians I met, they were damn close).
- 2.25 million paper cups at aid stations. Green party, prepare for "Occupy NYC Marathon".
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I put my name in the lottery for the NYC marathon for three years, only to have somebody point out I could submit one of my speedy race times for a "guaranteed entry". Doh! Don't forget to read the instructions, kids! (ha, ha) I just barely squeaked in with a qualifier which, like Boston, will be even tougher for 2012 due to increased demand. I hadn't trained specifically for this race, but felt I had good enough fitness to go sub-2:50 on a good day.
|(A fireboat adds a little orange and blue to a perfect day, photo courtesy of Aaron Houston for the NYTimes)|
|(Philip chills out as we all relax for the start)|
|(In the elite corral, the last photo my camera would take)|
|(Look out Brooklyn, here we come! Photo courtesy of Aaron Houston for the NYTimes)|
|(Just a few friends headed out for a jog)|
|(Marijyn Michaels from the Netherlands cruises through Brooklyn, photo courtesy of Kitty)|
|(Finding that groove, photo courtesy of Maureen Sproul)|
The crowds along First Ave were literally deafening, with rock bands, bars, megaphones, air horns, and anything else that could egg on a runner. There was no problem getting water at the aid stations though, and the top 500 runners barely took up the left half of the army of volunteers at each aid station. This marathon is a well-oiled machine! One of the runners next to me said that Mary Keitany had hit the halfway mark in 1:07:45 - 20 seconds faster than Paula Radcliffe on her world record run - and was still out front. The men had a field of seven coming of the bridge, and were already turning into Central Park. Wow!
We took the Wills Ave bridge to the Bronx, and I was just in time to see Geoffrey Mutai on the big screen winning the NYC Marathon in a course record 2:05:06, with Emmanuel Mutai (2:06:28) and 24-year-old Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia (2:07:13) also coming in under the previous record (that's $70k bonus each!). Inspired, we dug deep and crossed back into Manhattan for the final push.
|(Geoffrey Mutai wins, photo courtesy of the BBC)|
|(Getting it done, photo courtesy of WHBL)|
I crossed the line in 2:48:45, good enough for 376th place, and made my way towards the Amsterdam Ale House for some refreshments while congratulating many on new PR's brought by the perfect day. Sean finished right behind me (2:52), and Brett did manage to go fast (2:55), but the ultra community was best served by Devon Crosby-Helms (2:42) who managed to be 5th American and win her age group. Won her age group at NYC! That's wicked fast.
|(Beer and fries, oh yeah!)|
With that, I toast the finish to a wonderful 2011 season. Cheers!