This race (and this race review) has been a long time coming. I got my race entry through the lottery for the 2020 race. I entered the ballot because I wanted to run the 50th edition of this race. It was supposed to be a big party. Obviously, that 2020 race did not happen. The 50th race did happen in 2021, however, in 2021 foreigners were still not allowed to enter the US, so I didn’t get to run the 50th edition. The 2020 entry became a 2022 entry, for the 51st edition of the race. This wasn’t the first time I did the NYC Marathon, I also ran it in 2018, but it would be the first time that I’d run the same marathon twice.
This was the first edition since the pandemic that they had the full field size again. Over 50,000 runners going from Staten Island through all five boroughs of New York to finish the race in Central Park.
It started with picking up my bib at the Javits Center. Before the race you had to pick a time slot to pick up your bib, pick your transportation to the start and pick whether or not you wanted to drop off a bag. The time slots for the expo were new and also new this year was that everyone got a poncho, regardless of dropping off a bag or not.
I went to the expo on Thursday. Layout was a bit different than when I went to the expo in 2018 and it also seemed they had less companies at the expo, but the New Balance booth was still big and they also already sold finisher gear at the expo. Previously they saved all of that stuff for after the race at the pavilion in Central Park.
Something that had not changed was the opening ceremony on Friday. Runners representing their countries in a parade followed by fireworks in Central Park. I always like to go to the opening ceremony, the atmosphere is great and it’s not every day that you get to see fireworks in Central Park.
Another thing that they did change was the waves. When I did the race in 2018 there were 4 waves and the last one left at 11 am. Since Covid they have 5 waves and the last one left at 11:30 am. If you’ve previously ran the NYC marathon (or another NYRR race) it will take your pace from that to decide what wave you should be in. So again, I ended up in the last wave.
Last time I went with the bus to Staten Island, this time around I decided to take the ferry. I clearly wasn’t the only one who decided that. It wasn’t that difficult to take the subway from Midtown Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry. It was pretty busy at the terminal, but I got there around 07:30, so I still had quite a bit of time. I made it onto the 07:45 ferry, so that wasn’t too bad and from the ferry you have a great view over the Manhattan skyline.
After you get to Staten Island there are buses that take you to the start village. But there were a lot of people waiting for the buses and there was no rhyme or reason to the crowd. In Boston they have to bus everyone out to the start and they had a clear line which spread people out over the buses, but here you didn’t know whether the bus would stop in front of you or not and if you could get on. There were also runners from the first waves that still hadn’t managed to get onto any of the buses. Either not considering it could take them a while to get to the start village or just waiting until the last minute to head out the door.
But apparently there were also less buses than planned, either because the buses were broken or there wasn’t anyone to drive them. So I stood in the crowd for quite a while, in the meantime I was messaging Nicole, whom I met on Instagram and happened to be running the same race. She was trying to find me in the crowd, but since it was so busy and I’m not that tall, I doubted that she would succeed. But she did find me. So we chatted while waiting for a bus to get on and we chatted on the bus until it was time to go to our different starting villages.
By the time we got there it was 10 am and already about 20 degrees and it would get even hotter during the race. One of the hottest editions ever and I doubt they collected a lot of throw away clothes that day. I got ready for the race and got talking to Gary who was wearing a parkrun t-shirt. Isn’t the running community great?
This time I was on the top deck of the Verrazzano bridge. The bridge just gives you time to enjoy everything and take everything in. You could also definitely feel the heat right away, there was a little bit of sunshine, but luckily it was mostly cloudy.
When we got into Brooklyn I noticed there were less crowds than last time. Not sure if the nice weather convinced people to go do something else rather than cheer on runners. If covid had convinced some to still avoid crowds or that they just didn’t wait around for the even later start time. But either way, New York is always a party.
I did not have a goal time in mind, I let that go because of the heat.The first 10 kilometers of the race actually went pretty smooth. When the different waves merged I tried to see if I could find Nicole and looking for her gave me a bit of a distraction. I actually managed to find her around 8 kilometers in and said hi before we went our separate ways again.
The organization had put extra sprinkler systems along the course due to the hot conditions and they had a color coded flag alert system at all the medical stations to inform runners about the conditions on the course. As far as I could tell they did not provide more aid stations or more fluids, but normally they have more than enough with 21 aid stations along the way. Turns out it wasn’t enough. At least, not for the last wave. The organization had counted on runners taking 2 cups every aid station, maybe 3. But the earlier wave runners took more than that trying to hydrate and cool themselves down, not taking into account that there were lots and lots of runners still to come behind them. Meaning that if you were the last wave, there was nothing left. The first few aid stations were still okay and I did have my bottle of Tailwind Nutrition with me, but I had that mixed pretty strongly because it was supposed to provide me with energy for the entire race.
I got to around the 15 kilometer mark and that aid station had ran out of cups. I get to the next aid station, same issue. I decided to empty my bottle of Tailwind a little and add some water to it, but it’s still too strongly mixed since I counted on having water along the course. I don’t dare to empty the whole bottle because I still need the energy and the electrolytes. I start looking for a store to get water, but at that point we’re in the Jewish part of Williamsburg and I can’t see any store along the route. I feel myself getting dehydrated and decide that with the heat and the dehydration, it’s safer for me to walk. Luckily, my parents came with me to New York this time. I texted them letting them know there was no water on the course.
I managed to meet up with them at the 20 kilometer mark and they had water and Cola for me. After that it took me another few kilometers to get my hydration and electrolyte levels right again. Apparently, the organization had considered canceling the race at this point since the aid stations were running out of either cups or water or both. But that would have meant canceling the race while most of the 50,000 participants were still on the course, so how would you deal with those? Not providing participants with water at those temperatures is dangerous, but canceling the race with thousands of participants having to get back to their accommodation or participants trying to complete the race without support would have also been dangerous. Interestingly enough, they never changed the flag system to red, I only saw orange flags the whole way.
But as I said, New York is always a party. There were still block parties along the way and I found that New York always has the best signs along the course. “Welcome to Queens, now get out of here”, “The rats don’t run this city, you do”, “Run like Skechers ran away from Kanye West” ect.
The heat was still a struggle and especially the last 5 kilometers of the race seemed to almost never end. Definitely not my fastest race, but I think almost everyone had that issue. This one was about finishing safely and not about the time. And no matter what, New York remains a great race and a great city. If I had the opportunity, I’d definitely do it again.
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