“A runner must run with dreams in his heart.”– Emil Zatopek
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — I was on my way to quit when I saw Pheidippides.
Sunday at past 9’clock in the morning on November 1, I made a terrible faux pas: from the Grand Central Station, I took an upper east side-bound train and alighted on Manhattan’s 51st Street.
I was supposed to get off on the 59th Street and walk on the left to the Fifth Avenue.
The mistake brought me to the 86th Street walking like a house on fire. That’s where I realized I goofed.
I retreated on the 77th Street and turned left. I reached Central Park’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I walked but stopped before reaching the Central Park North (110 Street).
Eureka, the area was a route of the 45th New York City Marathon, the reason why I was there.
I was supposed to proceed to the finish line at Central Park West thinking I was already late because of the long walk.
I followed the route and stopped on the race’s 24th mile hoping to salvage a glimpse of the runners on the wayside in case the awarding ceremony was unfolding.
A severe headache suddenly hit me brought by the park’s chilly atmosphere and adrenaline rush. I rested under the park’s colorful trees to savor the falling autumn leaves and took some “selfie” shots.
I was on the verge of abandoning the coverage of the NYC Marathon and was heading to the park’s nearest exit when, all of a sudden, I saw three motorcycle-riding cops followed by two cars with sirens rolling up the hilly part of the route.
It was the lead pack for the distaff side. Kenya’s Mary Keitany, 33, was heading to the finish line unchallenged.
She breasted the tape at 2:24:25.
Realizing I was in the right place at the right time and the race wasn’t yet over as I feared earlier, I positioned myself near the 25th mile waiting for an ambush for the men’s lead pack (away from the main streets, the area was perfect for media coverage).
Lady luck smiled at me once more. I heard incoming sirens; this time, Kenya’s world cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor was chasing compatriot Stanley Biwott, 29, in a nail-biting finale.
Biwott foiled Kamworor’s last-ditch effort at 2:10:34.
I became emotional watching Biwott as he increased his speed and maked Kamworor eat the dust. It evoked memories of Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce Greece’s victory in a battle against Persia in 490 B.C.
In history, we used to discuss marathon, the most dramatic event in the Olympics (because it is traditionally held in the penultimate day of the Olympic Games) and how it became a sports event in honor of the Greek soldier.
The defeat at Marathon marked the end of the first Persian invasion of Greece, and the Persian force retreated to Asia.
The Battle of Marathon was a watershed in the Greco-Persian wars, showing the Greeks that the Persians could be beaten; the eventual Greek triumph in these wars can be seen to begin at Marathon.
Meanwhile, interesting scenes stole the 2015 NYC limelight. Along the race route, through neighborhoods of brownstones, tenements and high-rises, revelers held signs, rang bells and called out to the runners with words of encouragement.
Live music also blared and some in the crowd, composed mostly of family members, still donned Halloween costumes.
Temperatures in the 50s and little wind provided almost ideal conditions for the race’s 50,000 runners–a mix of amateurs, professionals, locals and visitors from across the country and around the world who dream of running the iconic race.
It is commonly said that the full marathon distance was set to 26 miles 385 yards because of the Royal family, added the Ahotu Marathons.
During the preparation of the summer Olympiads, it had been agreed that the organizers would include a marathon of about 40 km or 25 miles.
The British officials, desirous to accommodate the King of England, started the race at Windsor Castle and finished at the Royal box in the Olympic Stadium–a distance of precisely 26 miles 385 yards.
But that only explains why the London marathon’s distance was 42. 195 km. It doesn’t tell us why this distance was chosen as the definitive marathon distance.