There were a number of things that attracted me to the event; it was honouring a day that affected a lot of peoples lives, the notion of running a full loop around Manhattan, it was organised by a bunch of people who just cared about running (no big pre-race fanfare or after parties etc) and also it would be my first Marathon and Ultra-Marathon distance. With these motivations I signed up and began training (which I’m not going to bore you with the detail here J).
The Meetup was scheduled for an 8am start so on the morning of the 9th I got up at 6am and had a hearty breakfast to get the blood & electrolytes moving in my body. I took the below picture on my walk to the nearby PATH station, the Freedom Tower which is being built in the void left by the World Trade towers is moving swiftly to completion. I managed to find a couple of pictures on the Internet which show what the same view would have looked like with the World Trade towers still standing:
I arrived at the downtown Battery City Park starting point and signed in (that was about as formal as it got). There was a really good vibe, everybody was either relaxing, stretching or adjusting their hydration packs. As it was going to be totally self-supported it was advised to bring all the regular food, gels & fluid you needed for a run of similar distance – we were told there was an ‘aid station’ at mile 16 which was a Twin Donut J Just before 8am we got a picture of the group and then got ready to set off:
The organiser had kindly printed off directions, I’d put them on my phone as this one of my biggest concerns – with the race being self-supported it meant there was no course markers. I actually ended up using this printed version instead of my phone as they were easier to see in the sunny conditions:
At 8:08am we set off and began the anti-clockwise loop of Manhattan. The weather was perfect at that time of day as the sun wasn’t quite at full strength and we were experiencing some cooler air compared to the humidity that has been a constant in NYC for the past 4 months.
The group was a mix of different runners and one group of seasoned Ultra-runners took off and that was the last I saw of them. I managed to get in with a pack who were doing a similar pace to me and we kept together for the first 10 miles before people started dropping back or picking up the pace. I stayed steady and ended up running with a guy who was aiming for similar splits to me…the company was good and it also helped having someone to verify the directions we were following when we hit the milestones:
The first half of the run was far more productive in terms of capturing pictures, purely because I had more energy levels and my hands weren’t covered in a combination of Gu Gel and sweat J. I also had some great conversations with some of the other runners, ranging from other races people have done (Iron Mans, 50-mile trail runs) to an in-depth analysis of the level of player quality the Premier League has in comparison to the MLS:
I made it to the Twin Donut halfway point (and only ‘official’ aid station) in good time after checking my Motoactv (shameless gadget plug). Although tempted, I didn’t sample the donuts even though they looked delicious, so I’m unable to comment if they give Dunkin’ a run for their money.
After a quick bio pit stop and purchasing some water to refill my hydration pack I set off and started the descent down the West Side Greenway…the home stretch as I kept telling myself:
At mile 20, the guy I was running with left the run as we were passing his apartment and the Jets game was starting in a couple of hours. As the group had spread out I knew I would be on my own for the next few miles…weirdly, I didn’t decide to listen to any music (I’d even prepared a backup MP3 player in case my Motoactv ran out of juice) I was taking in the sights and actually enjoying the run far more than I expected at this distance, especially as I’d covered more mileage than my previous runs & races.
By mile 22 the sun was in full mid-day flight and although it wasn’t humid it started to take its toll on my energy levels, thankfully at mile 24 I was given a huge boost as my other half met me for the last ~7miles and she did a great job of pacing me to the finish line/original starting point. We also came across some paper signs taped to the floor that indicated a pop-up aid station was a short distance away, some guy was manning a coolbox full of iced water:
The organiser was doing the run also so one of his friends was logging times when I arrived at the finish, my watch displayed 5:57:21. I handed in my time and then sat in some shade to cool down and reflect on the last ~6hrs. Astonishingly, I didn’t feel like a celebratory beer…I think on fear of it going straight to my head! Here’s the actual route from the run that my Motoactv recorded, the starting point was the southernmost tip of Manhattan.