Race review: NYC Marathon, WWM #4

Friday, March 1, 2019

Completing all six Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM) has been my goal since 2016.  I have been lucky enough to win ballot entries with Berlin and Chicago.  For London, I obtained a charity place from Plantlife.  With the WMM increasing in popularity, it is becoming harder and harder to win a place in a ballot and the fundraising targets are reflecting the demand.  I decided to book a tour with 209 Events to run NYC in 2018 (which is why you are reading this). My last two races will be in Tokyo and Boston.  My goal is to run Boston in 2021 but I have a lot of work to do before then!

Let's focus on NYC Marathon though as the ballot results were released on Wednesday this week.  Congrats to everyone who got it!  You will soon read how much I enjoyed this race (even though I had to use the bathroom five times.  So much for a Personal Best). It was a very short trip to the USA, less than a week, due to limited annual leave. My mom even convinced me to flight home to Rochester, NY for two days to see my family at the start of my run-cation.  I then had to fly back to NYC to visit the race expo and catch up with friends before running 26.2 miles.  Easy, right?

Here is the nitty gritty about the 2018 race.  If you have any additional questions though, please a comment below and I will do my best to answer you.  I will also be working on a short YouTube video of my trip too.

Finish line of shake out 5K which is also part of the official marathon course
Entries and fees: For US residents the entry fee is $295 in 2019.  For international runners, the cost goes up to $358.  My tour with 209 event was about £1200, which included flights and entry but not accommodation.  I stayed with a friend in Queens to save on expenses, which helped keep the trip affordable.  The only downside was being very far away from the start line.

Runners waiting to get on the ferry to Staten Island
Course and bogs: Course starts in Staten Island and runs through all 5 NYC boroughs (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan).  The course is more hilly than other WMM races because there are many bridges.  In fact, the start of the race, you climb the steepest bridge/hill. 

At the start line, there were several areas for runners that split you by your wave.  Each area had a bunch of toilets, a small shaded seating area, and bag drop.  Even though there were lots of toilets, there were lots of runners so you had to wait in line.  Out on the course, there were toilets every mile at the water stations.  I stopped to use them 5 times.  There was always loo roll and most of the time only a few people waiting (primarily runners but sometimes spectators). 

One of the port-a-loo areas
Location: All over the Big Apple.  We started on Staten Island and finished in Central Park.

Atmosphere: Electric.  The crowds lining the streets were amazing! So much cheering, an abundance of snacks, and my favorite part- pure elation when a spectator sees someone they know running past.  I was lucky enough to have my friends from university at mile 16 waiting to give me a hug and cheer.  Americans are not afraid to make some noise.  In 2018, the sun was out but the temperature wasn't too high, making it perfect running weather.

Another medal for my collection
Race bling and goody bag: The medal was great.  Goody bag had usual snacks and water.  I can't remember anything else so must not have been anything crazy.  You get a foil blanket when you finish to keep you warm until you collect your bag.  My bag was at the far end because I dropped it off late (see "tips for next time" below).

Tips if you want to take part next time:
  • Eat well early because you start late.  I ate porridge at 4:30am and didn't start running until 10:30am. By the time I got on the ferry, I was hungry which lead me to eating all of my post-race snacks at the start area and then having to use bathroom five times during the race.
  • Learn the course profile.  It is very hilly, which I knew but it was different to experience it.  I suggest adding hill reps into your training plan to prepare.
  • The expo wasn't that impressive to me.  Maybe the space was too big, but there didn't seem to be very much to shop for outside of the official store.
  • NYC involves a lot of walking.  Keep that in mind if you are going to sight-see before or after the race.  For Chicago and NYC, I went to the movies the afternoon before the race and treated myself to a reclining chair to keep my feet up.
  • Know where the airport is!  The day after the race, I headed back home. Unfortunately, I went the wrong way on the subway and arrived only 1 hour before my departure instead of the suggested two.  I was sweating but so tired and sore I couldn't move any faster!
  • Sign up for shake out 5k (even though you don't get a medal).  After enjoying the shake out 5K in Chicago, I knew I had to do it in NYC too.  I ran with friends and enjoyed the landmarks along the route.  We were given bobble hats instead of medals, which was disappointing but what can you do?  Book a table for brunch if you plan to go after the race because everyone will be trying to do the same thing.
  • Check your bag on time!  As I was eating and waiting for the toilet, I didn't manage to check my bag in time.  That was a lot of stress to find the 'everyone else' van which also meant I had to walk further from the finish line to find it.
  • Keep tampons on hand.  Of course, my period started that morning but I didn't realize it until I got to start pen. I had to bum one off a Spanish lady but it didn't have an applicator so I didn't quite get it in position right.  Luckily, it wasn't a disaster in the end.
Did you run NYC in 2018?  What was your favorite part of the race?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Thanks to Simplyhealth for sponsoring my 4x4 Challenge.  This was my 4th and final race of the challenge. 

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