I didn’t run this race. In order to automatically qualify for the 2009 NYC Marathon, NYRR members now have to run nine races and “volunteer” at one. I had hoped to volunteer at the Club Championships (I’m not a team member and not eligible to run that event), but I think everyone else had that idea, too. So, I picked the Fitness 4-miler, which holds difficult memories for me, anyway (I was hit by a car the evening after I ran this event in 2006).
My call time was 7:30. I had gotten up early to walk my neighbor’s dog and to cover any delays caused by the MTA’s continuing disruption of my subway line, so I ended up arriving just after 7. I received a goodie bag and a massage (there were no lines and I told everyone I was a volunteer) and then headed over and checked in about 10 minutes early. Because of NYRR’s communication efficiency, I didn’t receive an e-mail telling me where to check in (even after calling the NYRR and requesting the information and receiving a promise that I would get it by e-mail). I assumed I checked in at the start-line area, but was wrong. The woman offered to transfer me to chip-clipping, but I’d committed to being a Northwest course marshal and didn’t want to leave them short a person, so I walked a mile up the west side of the park until I found the group. Doug, the volunteer coordinator (wrangler?), was giving people instructions about course marshalling and pulling people off the group to stand along the course. I positioned myself in the center of the group, towards the inside of the course, so that I would stay in the group as long as possible and guarantee a short walk to check-out at the end of the shift. It turns out that there was an uptown check-in where I was supposed to have gone in the first place. Thanks for the info, NYRR! Anyway, I arranged it so that I ended up at the 72nd Street Transverse crossing. I could see the finish line from where I was standing!
There were 4 of us at the transverse with Doug. It’s a difficult area, because tour groups come in from Strawberry Fields and want to cross the course into the park. We cut off two of the three entryways to funnel the crowds and control them better. We had to keep them, the cyclists, the regular pedestrians, and the racers from colliding. The general plan is to allow a line of five to cross in two sections (first to the edge of the race course, across the cyclists and non-racing runners lane, and then across the race path), but the tourists didn’t always understand that clearly. Luckily, we had no collisions and only one or two nasty cyclists (I had been promised I’d be cursed out, but I won’t hold it against Doug that it didn’t happen). The entire event went fairly smoothly, with only two incidents of note.
During the men’s race, I was on my way up to help guide a tour group to the single pathway to the road and I turned back in time to see a Korean Road Runner fall. He clutched at the fence (wire mesh with 4” open squares), but couldn’t hold himself up and he hit the pavement headfirst. His head actually bounced off the road. I ran back, pulling a fresh bottle of water out of my backpack and Doug was there, too, along with some spectators. He kept insisting he wanted to finish, so, after cooling himself off and getting some fluids in (and washing some of the blood off his face), Doug walked him to the finish (he was on the phone with medical the entire time) and he went to medical after getting his chip clipped.
The other incident was the appearance of a wild turkey on the road. Apparently, there are two wild turkeys in the park and this one decided to wander around on the road while the men were racing past. She was unfazed by the activity, sauntered across the cyclists’ lane to peck around the grass for awhile, then wandered back into the road and settled into the inside course lane for a while. Finally, she flung herself up and over the afore-mentioned wire fence and hung out there ignoring barking dogs and snap-happy tourists (including me) until some curious children herded her out of my view.
Congratulatory treats (I finally qualified for the 2009 NYC Marathon): I went to Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle and got myself a chocolate bouchon and a plain scone (which was delicious with and without Nutella).
Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)
Turkey pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157607168616558/
9/11 Bells and Flags of Honor pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157607168923730/ (Fr. Judge, who was the chaplain of the fire department when he died on 9/11, was from my church and there is a procession every year from my church (St. Francis of Assisi at 31st and 7th) to Ground Zero. These pictures are from the beginning of the procession when the vehicles and people were gathering in preparation for the Mass before the procession.