I’m breaking from the usual “Glorious Bucket List” post format for this week’s entry, one that’s near and dear to me: The ING New York City Marathon, the world’s largest 26.2-mile race which brings runners through all five boroughs of the city. I watched my first NYC Marathon in the November of 2001, a little over a month after I’d moved to New York. At the time I knew all of one person in the city, so I was alone when I headed uptown on a crisp fall day and into Central Park to watch the race.
Company, as it ended up, was easy to come by. The hills surrounding the park’s roads were packed with people cheering on runners as they made their way along the last few miles of the course. Participants hailed from all around the world, and words of encouragement were being shouted in a dozen languages.
The September 11th attacks had happened not even two months before and if one thing stood out the most on race day, it was the palpable love for the city. Everyone could feel it, from the racers to the spectators. Many of the runners from other countries even donned American flags—painted on their cheeks and ironed on to shirts—or “I Love NY” tees. Gestures of solidarity. I’ve never been to the Olympics, but I imagine the international spirit of the event, the sense that, for a few moments we are all united for one common purpose, is similar to what I felt in Central Park that day.
It had never been a goal of mine to run a marathon before then, but I was so taken by the idea of participating in this particular race I promised myself then and there that someday I would run the New York City Marathon and experience the excitement and accomplishment written on the faces of the runners I saw that first November.
Five years later, I did.
Clearly I had a good time, although truth be told it wasn’t easy. But if you were to ask me whether the months of training and effort was worth it I’d answer “yes” without hesitation. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and in a way I feel like I gave something back to the city I’ve come to love so much by running it.
Info for registering for this year’s race on November 4th can be found here. Some runners may qualify for guaranteed entry, though most of the over 100,000 applicants will be entered into the lottery (the deadline to submit your name is April 23rd). One way to be sure you’ll have a spot on race day is to run for an ING participating charity. I ran with Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Fred’s Team and can vouch for their outstanding training program and excellent race day organization. You’ll raise money for a good cause and in return you’ll get a little taste of glory, running a race you’ll never forget.