Race Report by Claire Newman
It is a bit of a mission to get to the start line as it is on Staten Island. The options are either a bus from Manhattan or a ferry. We chose the 6.15 ferry and Brian and I met with John at the subway and we made our way to the terminal and got straight onto a ferry. We were treated to beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty as we crossed. After disembarking we had a short walk to the coaches and only a little wait before boarding. 30/40 mins later we arrived at the start village. It all went really smoothly, a relief as we had heard nightmare tales of long waits for coaches and traffic jams causing people to miss their waves.
The village is well kitted out with free food and drinks, loads of loos, and even therapy dogs! What it didn’t have was shelter, so we were really thankful that although it was chilly, it wasn’ t wet or windy. We claimed the iconic Dunkin Donuts hat and grabbed some stuff to eat and drink, Sam joined us, and all suitably attired in our ridiculous orange and pink hats we settled down to wait.
Brian and John went to join wave 2 as Sam and I watched the elites and wave 1 go off, we could see the runners go past across the bridge and could cheer them on from below. Sam then went to join wave 3 and I had 45 mins until I had to start, I dumped my extra layers in the charity bins and headed off to my corral.. After the national anthem the canon fired for our start and to the sound of Frank Sinatra we crossed the start line….IT WAS ON!
The first mile takes you up the verrazano bridge, the part of the course with the highest elevation climb. You didn’t feel it as you are full of adrenaline to finally be going. Crossing the bridge turned out to be a challenge mainly due to absolute muppets stopping right infront of you to take photos and selfies. It was massively frustrating. I get wanting a photo….but move to the side!
After the bridge we rolled down into Brooklyn, the support was amazing. Bands were dotted frequently along the course. The NYPD and NYFD were supporting, I had a whole fire truck cheer me on as I approached and then passed them it was brilliant.
I was feeling pretty good, the course was fairly easy, it wasnt too congested, the support was awesome, and I was making good time. As I approached the start of Pulaski Bridge I spotted the half marathon marker and noted that if I kept up a similar pace for the second half I would be on for a 5hr marathon.
However, the second half was a completely different race!
Queensborough Bridge at mile 15/16 had been much talked about. We had been told it was a slog, there was no support and no sound except the other runners. I had expected to find it an oasis of calm after all the noise, but it was draining. It felt like a huge drag upwards and all you could hear was others struggling around you. It was a relief to come off the bridge and make the sharp turn into Manhattan. At mile 17 we were handed cold wet sponges and I wiped my face and neck this immediately made me feel so much better. I started to keep my eye out for Phil who had said he would be at around mile 18 and I was so excited and happy when I saw him! I gave Phil a massive sweaty hug (sorry Phil), announced to the world on FB live that I might wee myself, and headed off again. Phil said he would try to catch me again around mile 23/24.
Looking at the elevation miles 18 to 22 look relatively flat, but they didn’t feel it. My ankles and feet were hurting more than my legs, almost as though the road surface was harder than usual, however I LOVED running through Harlem, the music and signs here were fantastic 👌
The organisation on route was brilliant. There were water and Gatorade stations every mile which really made you feel you were ticking through the miles quickly. There was also a Biofreeze pit crew, I swooped in at mile 20 and had them just spray the entire bottom half of my body😂
At mile 22/23 my knee didnt work as knees should when I placed my foot down and I felt suddenly unstable. I became really worried it would give out even more as I ran. Phil appeared just before mile 24 and after a little self pity cry I asked him how the others were and hearing how well they had done spurred me on. Phil joined me on the course to get me going again and only left me when I was about to exit 5th Avenue to enter Central Park, I dont think he had expected to run part of the marathon again. Shortly after I entered the park Phil randomly appeared again, emerging from between some trees in an area spectators were not supposed to be in. I headed through the park to the finish, managing to pick up a bit of speed as there were some lovely downhills and as I entered the finishing straight I pushed past as many people as I could to cross the finish line as strong as possible.