New York, New York! Land of the Skyscraper and home of the American Dream. 5 boroughs and 8.5 million people….. All watched over by the glorious Lady Liberty. Its bigger, bolder and brasher than you can possibly imagine.
It’s little wonder that it has become host to the world’s biggest, brashest marathon too.
Founded in 1970 by Fred Lebrow, just 55 runners embarked upon the course which took them around and around Central Park costing just a dollar to enter. It wasn’t until 1976 and the US bicentenary celebrations that they decided to take the course through all 5 boroughs of the city as a one off parade. Over a million people lined the street that year making it an unforgettable spectacle that the city had to adopt. It’s remained the same ever since.
Steve Hunt was lucky enough to get a place on the public ballot
“I applied through the ballot on the off chance thinking I wouldn’t get in. I’d only ever wanted to do London which I was already doing this year, so I really didn’t think I’d get in”
Jane Andrew made the Tranatlantic trip to run with son in law Richard Clark in memory of her sorely missed late husband and fellow IWRR Darren.
“It was the one marathon that Darren really, really wanted to do”
Jane, her family and many of Darren’s friends have been embarking on all sorts of sporting challenges raising a phenomenal £13,000 to date for the ICU unit at St Mary’s and raising awareness for the importance of organ donation. Rich had taken one of Darren’s club vests to wear on race day as a beautiful tribute to his memory.
They all arrived a couple of days early so they could explore the city and excitedly collect their numbers.
Steve’s first port of call after getting his number was the 9/11 museum, paying his respects to those who died in the city that fateful day, before he started having fun
Race day arrived and they excitedly made their way to the start.
“They has free tea at the start” said Jane
And we all know how much our Jane loves her tea!
A clear blue sky shone above them as they lined up in their start corrals in Fort Wandsworth on Staten Island. The course goes straight over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in what can only be described as one of the greatest sporting sights known to man.
“The Verrazano Bridge looked daunting” said Steve “but there was so much energy in the air that you didn’t really notice the climb. Once you stepped off into Brooklyn you were hit by a wall of noise”
Once over the bridge the runners enter the second borough of Brooklyn. Known for its creativity and entrepreneurship, this borough is the most populated. Through the neighbourhoods of Bay Bridge, Sunset Park, Williamsburg and Greenpoint they ran, cheered on by some of the 2 million spectators that now line the route.
They all tried to settle into a steady rythmn and not get swept up in the excitement of the occasion… or in Steve’s case trip over and manholes!
“I couldn’t believe it. I was 2 years ago exactly to the day that I fell over and broke my nose on the Hayling 10!”
But he got up, dusted himself off and carried on
Halfway point. And the runners cross the Polanski Bridge into Queens. Despite being the largest borough, the course only takes in 2 and a half miles of it as it soon reaches the Queensboro Bridge. Briony and Charlotte caught sight of Jane, Rich and friend Paul but despite their screams the trio didn’t hear them amidst the noise.
“The support was amazing” Jane tells me “The Police and the Fire departments were all out in force cheering, the entertainment, the gospel choirs, it was all just fantastic”
And then…… Silence…. The Queensboro Bridge. Taking them over the East River, crossing over the top of Roosevelt Island with only sound the metronomic sound of trainers hitting tarmac and the swirling wind.
“That was a real uphill struggle” said Jane “It seemed to go on forever”
“I hated it too” said Steve “but I knew my wife was just on the the other side, that kept me going”
On the other side they emerge into the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the 16 mile mark. This is where Steve indeed managed to find his wife Donna in the crowd.
1st Avenue took them north through the Upper East Side before crossing the Willis Avenue Bridge into The Bronx, ticking off the final borough.
After only a mile and a half they made the turn for home as they crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge and the 21 mile mark.
Only 5 and a bit to go….
Through Harlem they went. At last the sight of Central Park looms before them but they are by no means out of the woods. Just under 4 miles are still left to go.
After a mile on the periphery they entered this iconic park at 23.5 miles. The ups and downs of the park taking their toll but softened by the huge level of support from the crowd. Jane spotted the girls this time and Steve randomly high fived Santa before they finally reached Colombus Circle and the 385 yards to the finishline outside the famous Tavern in the Green.
Jane Andrew – 5.03.16
Steve Hunt – 5.12.43
Dedicated to the memory of Darren Andrew
23.05.1965 – 09.01.2018