…well, check it out yourself in the New York Times from yesterday! My name and finish time is in there! How crazy is that!? If you want to look me up, click on the picture and a bigger version will open.
I have been using the word “mad” quite a lot recently. It seems to be the best word in my vocabulary to describe New York. Take the buildings as an example: A rigid grid of streets filled with randomly joined buildings in all shapes, sizes and styles. It makes you think of a horde of monster children gone crazy with their monster Lego bricks. Or the public transport “system” where I still struggle to recognise anything that resembles, well, a system. The people are equally hard to put into any of the boxes life has prepared me with. There seems to be a militant fierceness about most people here, mixed with a stoic stubbornness to shape their bits of the city life exactly their way. The New Yorkers don’t do subtle or gentle. Most things are loud, instant and into your face. And so was the marathon. It might sound a bit negative, but once adjusted it feels like a great place for adventure, where you constantly try to keep going, which is especially useful, when you are trying to run 26 miles. What a bunch supporters the New Yorkes are: all the shouts, screams, high fives turned into wave of good energy that did carry you forward. When it came to motivational signs New Yorkers are rather creative. “For us you are all Kenyan runners” one said. “I am just here to check you out” was held up by an attractive young lady. To the end it got a bit more to the point. Mile 20: “From now on adult words are allowed” Mile 23: “There is no f*ing other option but to finish it”, which I remembered when my friend Simone told me that right after me at mile 25 a guy collapsed and had to be carried away by an ambulance. Well, there was an other option for him, but not a nice one. And one sign said: “I promise a happy end for all finishers”, which is, if you think about it, also a bitter-sweet message. Where is the grace and comfort for those who might not finish it? But I am getting to philosophical and I feel blessed that I can call myself a Happy Ender. And what an ending it was: On the last 400 meters I started to run closer to the spectators and it happened that one of them held out a hand. There was not much high-fiving going on towards the finish line, so the spectators seem to expect runners to focus on the very last stretch and not to high-five back. But I did and instantly a wave of hands were raised in front of me which I high-fived all the way to the finish. It was the best finish ever (despite the fact that the finish line is literally on a hill). I am saying a big big thank you to all you crazy people in New York who made this to an unmatched marathon experience, you are absolutely fabulous! And also big thanks to Simone, who not only took the top picture at mile 25, but traveled to various points of the course and brought a bit of home to New York by cheering me on with a marathon battle-cry typical to my birth town Hamburg: “DA GEHT NOCH WAS!” (Freely translated: “There is more left in the tank!” means “Don’t be such a wimp and get the job done!” – Maybe the people from Hamburg and New York are not that different after all?)
This must be the logistically most complex (or adventurous) travel to the start line I have done so far. It sounded quite ok in theory, but from Jersey City to the ferry to the shuttle bus to the villages finding your right areas, drop off, corral (pen)… Well, I made it and being a good German I made it far ahead of time (big thanks to Simone at this point for all the help!) More than an other hour to go before it starts. This is complete madness, like most of what I experienced of New York so far – madness in a sort of good way of course. The weather on the other hand is perfect. No rain, no cold temperatures, no icy winds: feeling blessed. See you at the finish!