This race should have been cancelled immediately after Sandy hit New York.
However………..on Tuesday Oct 30th I received an email from NYRR to say the New York marathon was on 100%, so only then did I book my flights and hotel and made my way across the Atlantic to New York via the UK. I arrived at 4pm Friday November 2nd. Manhattan did not look like Sandy had destroyed it, the lights in Times Sq were shinning very brightly though.
At 6pm I was in a long line of runners at the Expo waiting to collect my race number and goody bag when everyones mobile phones went ballistic. Facebook and Twitter were full of stories about the race being cancelled. International runners from all over the world were standing around me, (no one had a better standout jacket than my Milers one). Suddenly the desks handing out the race numbers closed, panic set in, then, on the giant TV monitors in the Expo CNN broke the news. The Mayor Mr. Bloomberg had decided the 2012 Marathon should be cancelled due to the devastation of Sandy in Staten Island (and the fact that the Staten Island ferry was not operating 2 days before 45,000 runners were to use it to get to the start). The mood amongst the runners was getting hostile, lots of shouting and arguments. We waited for an hour with no information, then NYRR announced the marathon was cancelled but gave us all our race number and goody back with a commemorative technical top. My mate from Coventry & I went straight to the Times Sq bars, no pasta for me tonight or the estimated 40,000 runners who had made their way to New York for the race. The bars were packed with runners, my mate (non runner) kept pointing out all the shinny new running shoes everywhere, I was chatting to UK, Italian, Australian & South Africans in particular. A great night was had in the Irish bars.
Saturday morning, lots of water and check Facebook, unofficial marathon suggestions were posted everywhere, the majority went for the old 1970’s New York Marathon route 4 x around Central Park = 42k, start time 8am by the finish line. Great I thought, I am going to do this, and I don’t need to get up at 4am and hang around 5hrs before the start. So a relaxed Saturday, lots of pasta and a glass of wine and off to bed.
Sunday morning 7am up and ready. I left my hotel in Mid Manhattan and trotted 3k to the start. At 8am an estimated 5,000 runners turned up and off we ran. Very congested in parts and also very hilly around Central Park, the atmosphere was unreal, most running in the orange Tech top given out in the race pack, not many wearing bib numbers. Lots of people chatting, laughing and no pressure on us at all, it was like a very long training run. I decided to keep an average of 5k a min aiming for 3:30, which was my marathon goal. Spectators lined the route handing out water, sports drink and jellybabies, lap 1 came to an end and the 26mile marker was in front, I could see the finish line but could also hear lots of boos and shouting, NYPD (I think being fat is a requirement to join them) were linking arms and stopping runners going through/under the official finish line bridge set up for the race, so we all had to go around it, why I will never know. Lap 2 and 3 went, lots of Dubai shouts from the crowd and other runners, especially the South Africans. Lots of runners ran together in the country flags, I remember a huge French, Mexican and Italian bus going around. On lap 4 I saw and caught up with a lady wearing a Dubai Creek Striders vest, she was Danish I think, now living in Singapore, and was only doing a half marathon as she decided to enter the Singapore Marathon in early December and wanted to save her legs. Next thing I new I was at 37k, (this is where you actually enter the park during the official marathon) so I followed the banners and flags all the way in.
The legs getting tired up the hills, picking up speed downhill, got to 40k and went for the final push, I ran out of the park along the official finish route up a road past lots of horses and carriages and bemused tourists, and back into the park, I could see the 26m banner, up under it, last push up a hill and finished at the line of Police. Time 3h 33m 20 sec very happy. Lots of TV crew and people taking pictures (who emailed them to me from their phones thanks).
I did it. I ran and completed the unofficial 2012 marathon. Got the number, got the Tee shirt, Grace made me the medal.
In true Milers tradition I got hammered for the next 2 days visiting most if not all Irish bars in Manhattan before flying back via UK.
The cynics say Bloomberg knew what he was doing, get 40,000 runners + families into NY to spend money to get the economy going again and also cancel the race to appear to listen to the NY residents who clearly wanted the race cancelled so resources can focus on helping those suffering from Sandy.
I will get a guaranteed entry for next year but I will have to pay $400+ entry fee + flights + hotels) will I do it? Not sure at the moment.
Best quote I can remember from a bar: A guy aged about 60 from the UK told us, he hated the London Marathon, ask why he said last year at the 21mile mark he was overtaken by an armadillo