The big story here is that Wilson Kipsang will make his first foray at the NYC race this year. He currently holds the world record, set in Berlin, at 2 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds. What’s his 100 meter pace? Does 17.5372 seconds sound right? Sounds crazy, is what it sounds, given that world record sprinters in the 100 meters finish in just under 10 seconds.
Kipsang trains and lives in the village of Iten Kenya, which is Eden for marathoners with its high altitudes, good roads, and plenty of competitive running comrades. In fact the throngs of fleet runners slow down public transportation and irk drivers. Streets may have to be widened...
NYC knows traffic. But on November the 2nd with weather just right, the causeways are cleared and runners wearing shorts and short sleeves and smiles - at least in the early stages - whiz by trees replete with golden leaves.
(And for North Americans, it’s a lot easier to train for this race in the summer, than through a cruel Nor-easter stormy winter if one wants to run, say a spring race, like the Boston marathon in April.)
This may not be cruel like a winter blizzard, but it’s callous. After 2016, those who have foolishly or fantastically finished 15 NYC marathons will no longer be guaranteed an automatic entry.
If you need help training, and don’t mind spending some bucks, you can, thanks to the NY RR website, get The Virtual Trainer, The Virtual Trainer Plus, or the Virtual Trainer VIP. (What they should offer is “The Real Runner In Lieu of You” – then they’d be talking.)
Assuming you survive breathing exhaust from cars, and exhaustive marathon training, will running this marathon, starting in Staten Island and finishing in Central Park, or marathons generally, help or hinder your life? It’s hard to say. Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter categorize all of life’s formidable foibles and fortes into a MicroLife table. Smoking will stunt your chances of living long, and those second-to-sixth drinks of booze will set you back, but what about plodding, stomping, and clomping interminably? They figure 20 minutes of moderate exercise, like screaming at your spouse for running 70 miles per week, while said spouse drops household chore like a stone, will add – for a man over 35 – 2.2 years to his being. For a woman over 35, add 1.9.
You’d figure that anything worth doing would be worth overdoing; at least so far as exercise goes, but you’d be wrong, if an Iowa State University study is to be believed. Basically, runners add three years to their lives, versus armchair naysayers, but keep it to five to ten minutes daily. No more. Some marathoners have had their hearts studied and ventricular functionality was reduced - temporarily.
So the jury’s out on marathon running as a boon or bane to health, but try telling that to the estimated 50,000 who’ll be running – and FINISHING - in NYC.
It’s hard to believe that the first NYC running in 1970, had only 127 runners, joggers, walkers, and crawlers. Boy, the number of crazies has ballooned since then, huh?
In this day of safety and transparency and inclusiveness this marathon brings us an “Event Alert System.” It deals with course conditions. There’s the Extreme level. If this is hit, the event is cancelled. Precipitating conditions would be if the heavy waisted, and often wasted, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford passed anyone in the race. Just kidding.
And skates are forbidden. They’re a safety issue.
Back to the course. Geez, the Verrazano Bridge takes a long time to cross. Then you’ll be running, forever it seems, by low rise buildings, shops, and stores – nothing much to see there. Just focus on breathing, form, and pace...Here and there a steeple or minaret or a low overpass will break the monotony of flat roofed apartments. At least full bodied trees and full throated onlookers line the route.
Finally. Sights really worth seeing hit as the runners cross the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. 300 million was spent to renovate it and since marathoners are a svelte bunch, the horde should cause the cantilevered crossing no harm. But they might crash into each other if they gawk too much at Manhattan’s skyline coming their way.
The ending scenery, what with finishing through iconic Central Park, is ideal, but by that time the top guns are concentrating on their finishes and the also rans are contemplating on their foamy beers to come.
In such a long race it’s the little things that shock. Witnessing the sea of humanity crossing bridges; NYC spectators clapping without cynicism; fruit being available only after you’ve passed 20 miles; finishers barely, but jubilantly, lifting arms crossing the finish. Of course this being the larger-than-life Big Apple – there will be over 130 bands to cheer the runners on and along.
Sing together, like Frank Sinatra: If I can make it there – I can make it most anywhere!