First posted November 2, 2013. Updated with photos and links.
If you live in NYC, you are almost definitely aware that the marathon is tomorrow. If you’re like me, you know at least two people personally who are running. Wikipedia tells me that the first NYC marathon was held in 1970 and has been run every year since, except for 2012, when the aftermath of superstorm Sandy led to its cancellation. My dad ran the marathon when I was a kid, long ago enough that I mostly just remember how tired he looked when we met him in Central Park at the end.
I’m not a runner, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be one, but there’s something about watching the marathon that makes me want to be. When I lived in Clinton Hill I spent at least an hour each marathon morning cheering as first the handcyclists, and then some of the fastest men and women in the world, sped by. And then the ordinary runners, still faster than I would ever be, ran by in masses. Two years in a row I saw a man running in a Minnie Mouse costume, possibly (hopefully?) the same guy. Sometimes there were couples or groups of friends. Sometimes I’d cheer for someone wearing a shirt from my college, or just slap hands with the people nearest to me as they passed. Last year I knew three people running and got to see one of them go by. This year I know at least two people and can’t wait to cheer them on!
The first time I went to watch, Time Warner was giving out bells to ring. I kept mine and brought it with me the following year because it’s very easy to get hoarse while watching the marathon. I never wanted a single person to go by feeling un-cheered-for, which was probably silly since they had 26.219 miles to run and surely there would be several times where there wasn’t cheering. But there’s something about watching people in the midst of such an amazing feat that makes me want to support them as much as possible in the only way I can.
Tomorrow, if you live near the marathon route, consider wandering over and checking it out. I guarantee you’ll be inspired by the runners, you’ll probably make friends with some cute kids who are cheering from the sidewalk, and you may lose your voice. Sorry about that last one.
If anyone wants a buddy, let me know–I’ll be out there with my bell!