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New York City Marathon 2008



The NYC marathon is rightly regarded as one of the top five marathons in the world, a highlight in many runners’ career, with a field of around 40,000 running through the city’s five boroughs to finish in Manhattan’s famous Central Park. This year, Neil Page was fortunate enough to get an entry and having trained like a Trojan managed to achieve a fantastic personal best as well as being the first ERN under 3 hours! Congratulations and well done.

Mins per
Neil Page 914 848 0:21:00 0:41:25 1:02:09 1:22:52 1:27:24 1:44:03 2:05:00 2:26:47 2:49:16 02:59:04 6:50

There were 38,356 starters, 37,899 finishers including 3,027 from the United Kingdom.
Times in red = distance PB, blue = course PB and green = first race over distance.

Neil said:   “My NY Marathon Experience


I was lucky enough to be drawn a place in the ballot for the New York marathon this year. So I took the opportunity, chummed by my dad, to go over and do the race and fit in some sites-seeing, while staying with my sister and her family, who are based in a nearby town in New Jersey. What follows are a few observations/notes I made of my experience of the event:

The event kicked off with the Expo (essentially, to pick up your goodie bag, chip and number bib). This ran from the Thursday through to the Saturday which was probably quite good as it gave the runners a bit of flexibility in their arrangements. The expo location was easy to find, a huge exhibition building in the middle-west part of Manhattan. Once there, I found that there were different stations to pick up the various things required, and there was loads of available assistance and certainly not much queuing when I went! There were numerous stalls, with the usual freebies and testers and a separate official NY marathon merchandising zone which had a vast array of branded items, from mugs to socks! I bought a few things, I must admit – well, New York is meant to be the capital of shopping after all!

The race itself was on the Sunday and starts from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island. Buses were laid on from various points in and around New York to get the competitors there. I caught a bus from the Izod Centre (I believe to be the home of the New York Giants) in New Jersey at the very early time of 5.45am, which was actually not that early considering the last bus was scheduled to leave from there at 6.30am! The bus took about an hour and a quarter to get to the athlete’s village, where upon arrival I was herded into a particular zone to drop my bag, pay a much needed visit, have breakfast (coffee, bagels, energy bars, water, etc.), wait, take another comfort break, wait again, have my wave called, and then enter my particular coral area. Once in my coral area I did a wee warm-up (taking the lead from others), then following more comfort breaks and waiting, I, along with my group, suddenly found ourselves moving forward on a stop-start basis, until reaching a point pretty near to the start line (I was fortunate to be in the first wave starting at 9.40am), dumping our sacrificial clothes into the recycling bins on the way. It was only about 10 mins or so before the starter’s gun went off from that point, allowing time for the Mayor’s announcements, the national anthem, and the men’s elite runner introductions. From then it took only took me a minute to pass through the start line. A lot of people seem to complain about the build-up to the start but I found it ok.. It wasn’t too cold or boring hanging around in the athletes’ village – provided you were dressed appropriately and had an appetite – and the extra hour in bed (on account of the clocks going back) the night before was definitely a help.

Once set off, I found the course really quite interesting and enjoyable but also a fair challenge. I think I counted running in 5 different boroughs (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan) before eventually finishing at Central Park. Excited crowds lined the route, with the exception of a few parts – such as the bridge crossings, with the crowd in the Bronx section being probably the most vociferous. Strangely, I occasionally came across sections of the crowd chanting: “O-bam-a” with placards of the now president elect’s name held high… Quite hard to imagine folks here doing that for any politician, but I suppose it was an historic election for one or two reasons.. Anyway – back to the course – there were plentiful and well manned water/gatorade stations (they seemed to be every mile, with gels being handed out at around mile 18) which were easy to negotiate through or indeed utilise. Generally, the running surfaces of the route were good and the mostly wide streets gave plenty room to manoeuvre. I have to admit the course did not feel that flat to me, there are long sections where I saw what was ahead (and it always seemed to be a constant incline upward, particularly in the latter part of the race!). The weather was perfect for running however – fairly cool most of the time and never too hot or windy (although I did get a wee touch sun-burnt on my shoulders). At every 5k mark, and latterly every mile, there was a mat and/or gantry to run over which picked up the running chips, enabling my lap times to be recorded and allowing my mother to get regular email alerts of my progress, back home.

The last 4 miles I found very tough as the arch in my foot was getting sore and my legs were beginning to stiffen – my latter interval times reflect this! At half a mile to go (at Columbus Circle), I was amazingly spotted by my sister and dad who were standing in a plumb spectator spot, right at the barrier, just before entering Central Park. Somehow, in amongst the noise and people, they managed to get my attention, whilst taking a couple of photos. This definitely gave me a well-timed boost and the necessary impetus to finish the race reasonably strongly..

After crossing the finishing line, I went through the usual sort of processing stuff: the medal hanging, photo taking, goodie bag awarding, bag collecting, chip removal and, finally, repatriation with the family.. I was lucky enough to get a time I was pleased with (2:59) and relieved that a pre-race injury problem (shin-splint) did not strike me down too much. All in all things went pretty well for me.

Had I been staying in central NY I would probably have attended the pre race banquet held at Central Park on the Saturday night (although I appeared to be allocated the last sitting which was at 8pm!), taken part in the international runners’ 2 mile fun/peace run on the Saturday morning from the UN building, and gone to the after-race party at some function hall in central Manhattan. I don’t feel I missed out too much with these, however, as I spoke to a couple of Scots after finishing who opined they were a bit of a waste of time anyway, considering all the other things New York has to offer for the first time/occasional visitor..

I am well aware of the mixed reviews the New York marathon sometimes gets but based on my experience I would definitely recommend it. Considering the number of runners, the geography of the place and the necessary logistics I think it is a great, well-organised event. I don’t really want to appear like the chairperson of the Olympics who always has to proclaim dutifully at a closing ceremony, “The best yet”, but I do expect it to always be a special race for me.

As an aside, for a good part of the race I ran behind a guy with his name on his vest, which I noted people in the crowd would notice and call out to cheer him on – it became a touch annoying for me but I can’t help think that it must have helped him psychologically and wonder whether it might be worth doing for my next major marathon (if I manage one)… Also, I am sorry to have shaved a bit off Phil’s great time in Amsterdam. I am sure it will only be matter of time before he shave’s mine!!!

I hope these observations/notes of my NY marathon experience are of interest and perhaps encouraged someone to give it a go someday…

Cheers. Neil

Some photos:

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