This past Sunday, a record-breaking 50,000-plus runners started in Staten Island and made their way across the Verrazano Bridge, through Brooklyn and Queen’s Long Island City, over the Queensboro Bridge, along Manhattan’s 1st Avenue, through East Harlem and the Bronx before finishing the ING New York City Marathon in Central Park. (Whew, I’m tired just typing that!) Talk about inspirational!
As you know, because of Hurricane Sandy, and this iconic event was ultimately canceled last year, and people took different courses of action: Some would-be-marathoners ran to Staten Island to deliver supplies while others completed an unofficial marathon in Central Park. Either way, Sunday’s race was the first of its kind since 2011.
Anyway, let’s talk about the fun stuff. As the party warlord, I co-planned a cheer zone for work. Since there were ten people from my store running, plus a bunch of my friends and teammates, this event needed to be successful. Running 26.2 miles seems unfathomable to me right now, so I wanted this cheer zone to boost the runners’ spirits. And I also wanted everyone spectating to have a fun time, too.
First, we solidified a location. The guys at East End Bar and Grill graciously let us camp out for the race and offered us a drink deal—which, let’s be real, is a necessary ingredient for a baller cheering section (at least according to my experience from college football and hockey games). Then, I asked runners what they’d like to see at the cheer zone and what would give them a boost at mile 17.5. Turns out, it’s fairly simple stuff: posters, cowbells, and, in the case of coworkers, someone dressed up in the bunny suit. Done, done, and done!
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a ton of pictures because the tracker app drained my phone’s battery, but you get the idea, right? During the race, friends and teammates stopped by, waited for their runners to pass, and then moved to another mile marker, so there were people trickling in and out.
Personally, I loved cheering at one location. There were about 15 runners I wanted to see, so it made more sense to stay in one spot and wait for everyone. (And a party warlord never abandons ship—ha!) Plus, it was nice to be on the spectating side for a change and not racing, especially because this stretch along 1st Avenue felt like a stadium; these three-ish miles are relatively flat, and this section also marks runners’ arrival to Manhattan, so the energy was electric. Everyone running by looked like they were having a blast! (Granted, this would probably be the last time most people felt good during the race; as the course goes to the Bronx, it becomes hillier and the crowd support decreases. Not to mention all bets are off at mile 20 and beyond.)
So, from a work standpoint, the cheer zone seemed like a success. Looking ahead to next year, there are a few tweaks that will make it even better, but I’m happy with how it went. And from a personal standpoint, I had so much fun. I know this question will be asked: No, I have no intention of doing this race—or a marathon for that matter—for a long, long time. But after experiencing it as a triathlete/runner/NYCer, I would love to do it one day.
But then I remember it’s 26.2 miles.
Have you completed/would you run a marathon?