Monday, November 2, 2009

Running from the Javelina Jundred to the ING NYC Marathon

What a great weekend of running!
Although I was on the sidelines this weekend, and admittedly a bit on edge because of it, this was really a great experience watching and cheering for the many people I knew who were running both here in NYC and in Arizona.

The Javelina Jundred a 101.4 mile endurance run, began around 6am Saturday morning in Fountain Hills, Arizona. I was following the race mainly to watch a buddy of mine Tony Portera who was running his 4th 100 miler of the year. How does one follow a friend running in the desert a couple thousand miles away you might ask......the answer is they have a great webcast that allows you to track all the runners after each of the 15+ mile loops (course map right). I was able to keep track at home or on my Blackberry. I love this system although its not searchable so it may be tough to use for larger races.

In a race of this length its interesting to follow as you are going about your daily routine. We were eating breakfast about the time the race started. Eating lunch at the local pizza joint when Tony hit mile 30. Trick or treating right around mile 60 (see Tani and the boys) and going to sleep after a Yankee win around mile 80. What really impresses me is when we woke up following a good night's sleep to see all these runners still going strong after 20 plus hours. Tony finished in 23:42:11 well ahead of the 30 hr cut off and good for 34th overall (250 started). Great job Tony! One hell of a year.

And congrats to the 1st place men's finisher Dave James (14:20:54) who broke Karl Meltzer's previous course record by more than an hour and to Beverley Abbs (18:48:05) who was the first women's finisher.

As described in my October 20th post Marathon Sunday in NYC is one of my favorite days, although I must comment on its size. The race has now grown to over 43,000 and I find it can be somewhat overwhelming.

As a runner the time and logistics it takes to get to the start can be stressful and drain your energy (not to mention its usually freezing while you wait on Staten Island for 2+hours to start). I will say the introduction of the wave start and bottle neck start line last year were positive additions to a race of this size. And once you are out on the course the energy is incredible.

As a spectator trying to find your friends and family running the race is dizzying despite the athlete alert system which I find adequate at best.

Now that I got that out of my system lets move on....

The last time I watched the race was 2006 (ran 07 and 08) and I am happy I was able to do it again at this years 40th with my family, old friends and some new ones including the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. We helped them set up a Cheer Zone for the 100 runners who gained entry this year through their Marathon/Half Marathon Program. Nice work Jane and Alicia for putting this great program together and to all the runners below, "Great accomplishment. Congrats to you".

A special thank you goes to Mark for lending us his bar (Aces & Eights on 87th Street & First Avenue/mile 17.5) to hang MMRF signs and as a meeting spot. I think we should also give a special shout out to Tani and Eliot who came to the rescue when the Aces staff was late for the early openings that are tradition on this day in NYC (see photo). When is the last time you saw a pregnant bartender :) She looks great doesn't she?

The race produced the first American winner in 27 years Meb Keflizighi (2:09:15) and Derartu Tulu (2:28:52) of Ethiopia won the women's race. Switzerland's Edith Hunkeler won her fifth women’s wheelchair title in 1:58:15 and Kurt Fearnley of Australia won for the 4th straight year in 1:35:58.

It always amazes me to see these professional athletes fly by at ridiculous speeds but for most this day is really about who follows them for the next several hours. The 10s of thousand of runners looking to complete this race, 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC all have their own reasons, personal accomplishment, a bet, charity and so on. Regardless of the reason, the positive energy generated by their stories and the crowds who come to cheer them on is unlike any other sporting event I have ever been to. Despite its flaws I look forward to many more ING NYC Marathons both as a runner and spectator. It is impossible to walk away from this day with out feeling positive.

Congrats to my friends Greg 3:40:52 (1st timer) and Scott 4:17:45 (old timer:)



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