Monday, November 6, 2017

A New York City Marathoner's Diary

Gillian Graham-Crowe with her husband Gavin after completing the New York City Marathon.
by Paige Peterson

One of the joys of living on the third floor of a prewar building on Central Park West is a front-row seat for two of the city’s most popular traditions. One is the pre-dawn show before the Thanksgiving Day Parade as the floats, lit by floodlights, line up on Central Park West. Another is the Marathon. The route takes the runners through the park, but after they finish, they leave the park a block from my apartment and, wrapped in Mylar blankets, are reunited with families and friends.

The late Jack Rudin owned and lived in our building. In 1976, Jack and his brother Lewis honored Samuel Rudin, their late father and a dedicated runner, by becoming sponsors of the Marathon. “We really needed something to generate excitement in this city. [We were] committed to fund that race,” Bill Rudin said. “This city is like the marathon. You train, you work hard, and then somewhere along the line you run; you think everything is going great and you hit that wall ... and you don’t stop. You keep going and that’s what this is about.” 

Gary Muhrcke at the finish line of the New York Marathon, 1970. (NYC Parks Archive)
For 36 years, the Rudin family has presented the race’s winners with the Samuel Rudin Trophy. Susan Rudin, Jack’s widow, walked the marathon many times. Jack was always waiting for her at the finish line with flashlight in hand.

Fun facts about the New York City Marathon:

1. The first New York City  Marathon in 1970 featured just 127 entrants running four laps around Central Park; only 55 finished the race. This year 2.5 million fans will line the course to cheer on the 50,000 runners and the 10,000 volunteers; it’s the world’s most popular marathon. 

 2. Along with a cannon blast, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is always played over the loudspeakers to signal the start of the marathon. The Bishop Loughlin High School band plays “Gonna Fly Now,” the “Rocky” theme song, over and over — up to 200 times! — at Mile 9 until the last runner goes by.  

3. Many marathon runners show up to the start on Staten Island wearing layers of clothing they know they are going to discard minutes before the race or a few miles in as their bodies warm up. Volunteers collect those clothes. In 2013, they donated 26 tons of clothing to Goodwill.
4. Aid stations are equipped with 62,370 gallons of water, 32,040 gallons of Gatorade, and 2.3 million paper cups. 

5. In addition to runners from the USA, the marathon has seen finishers from 125 different countries. The race has had 1,074,382 finishers to date.   

6. The modern marathon began at the Olympics in 1896.
Men's marathon at the Games of the I Olympiad, 1898.
Women were barred from running marathons — the Amateur Athletic Union was concerned the distance might damage women’s health — until 1972, when the AAU lifted the ban. With a condescending rule: Female runners were to start 10 minutes before the men. But when the starting gun went off, the women — who were standing in front of thousands of men — sat down. They held up signs: “Hey A.A.U. This is 1972. Wake Up.” and “The A.A.U. is Archaic.” Ten minutes later, they stood and ran. And the AUU scrapped that rule.
7. Last year, 21,464 female runners finished the Marathon — a record. Yes, traditions are important: the fixed distance, the quest for medals and personal bests. But it’s also been pleasant to sit in my window and watch a tradition change.

Our friend Gillian Graham-Crowe travelled from Sydney, Australia to New York City with her family; husband, Gavin; mother, Kathy; and children, Adia, Jonah and Jude. Also traveling with her was fellow runner Sue Goodison from Melbourne, Australia. They all came to our apartment after the race to shower, stretch and eat.

The 2017 New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan was the first American to win the Marathon in 40 years. Geoffrey Karnworor won the men’s division. 
Looking north along Central Park West before the runners had exited the park where you can hear the faint roar of the crowd.
Every side street had a police car on CPW and a garbage truck at Columbus Avenue.
Three garbage trucks blocking off 86th Street and CPW.
NYPD officers who also happen to be brothers.
One of many aid stations — this one was across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Five of the 2.3 million paper cups used over the course of the race.
Stopping to tie a shoe at the 23rd mile.
The medals hanging near the finish line.
Sue Goodison with her medal.
Handing out the Mylar body wraps.
Mylar caped crusaders.
The Finish Map.
Rooting on the eventual winner, Shalane Flanagan.
Looking south along CPW from the Dakota.
Looking north from the Langham.
A group of content post-Marathon runners ...
More Mylar.
Husband and wife embrace.
Gavin embracing Sue.
Friend in arms, Sue Goodison and Gillian Graham-Crowe.
Gavin escorting Sue and Gillian home.
Back at the apartment for a post-Marathon feast, which included ...
Roasted vegetables and and rice pilaf.
Gillian eating in her running socks.
Paige with Mummy's Cheer Squad.
Mummy's Cheer Squad playing.
The gang after an exhausting but exhilarating day: Sue Goodison, Gillian Graham-Crowe holding Jonah, Paige holding Jude, and Gavin holding Adia.