This year was my third consecutive New York City Marathon. It wasn’t my best race; actually, it was my worst time (4:11.36) in three races. I bonked very badly after the 21st mile. Around mile 23, when I realized I was not going to come in under 4 hours unless I really pushed through the screaming pain in my legs, I tried to ignore the pain and keep running. I made it about a third of a mile before the pain literally brought tears to my eyes. I stumbled, stopped, bent over, and wiped my eyes.
Just then, a spectator – a complete stranger – reached out over the barrier, pounded me on the back, and screamed, “C’mon Hellgate! (I had my team singlet on) You got this! You’re almost there! Don’t quit now, man!”
The crowds throughout the course of the New York City Marathon are simply electric. They are really what make the New York City Marathon amazing, and something every runner must experience at least once in their life. This being my third consecutive race, I already knew this. Fans line the streets, cheer you on, yelling at the top of their lungs, and even offer runners everything from paper towels and bottles of water to bananas and oranges. But yesterday, as it got progressively harder to even walk the last few miles, numerous spectators, seeing the obvious pain on my face, called out to me and shouted encouraging words. Their cheers lifted my spirits, warmed my heart, and made my painful last three miles just a little less painful. And it made me fully realize really how special the New York crowds are.
So I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to New York, the greatest city in the world, for making the New York City Marathon the greatest race in the world.
Thank you New York City!
Now in honor of the best race spectators in the world, I want to share some of the signs I saw over my 26.2 miles on Sunday.
Some signs were fittingly based on another recent New York City-inspired event:
- “Occupy 26.2”
- “I am part of the 99% of people that can’t finish a marathon. You are the 1%!”
Others were borough-specific:
- “Welcome to Brooklyn! Now get out!”
- “The 7 train isn’t running today, but you are!”
The signs with a little R-rated humor are always some of my favorites:
- “Chafed nipples turn me on!”
- (A sign with a photo of a well endowed woman): “Here are two big reasons to keep running!”
- “You have great stamina. Call me!”
Some other funny and inspirational standouts:
- “Pain is temporary. Glory is forever.”
- “Black toenails are sexy!”
- “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”
And finally, a couple of signs down the home stretch:
- “I didn’t wake up this early to see you walk. RUN!” (This was along Central Park West, around mile 24, when quite a few runners – including myself – were walking. Maybe that’s why this woman was holding this sign by her side, instead of up in the air. But despite my pain, I still thought it was fairly amusing.)
- (A sign with a picture of the Grim Reaper): “The End is Near!”
- “There’s beer at the finish line. Hurry up before they run out!”