Entry into the New York Marathon was determined in several ways; lottery being one of them. Ten percent of the 2022 60,000 applications were selected by luck of the draw. This past year, 6,250 applicants, after sending in their $295 entry fee, waited patiently to see if their check was cashed and they were entered. Other participants entered by making significant charitable contributions or by purchasing tour packages from tour agencies.
Starting in 1980, I choose the lottery option, and was not selected for two years running. But then in 1982, my name was drawn. Hooray! Unfortunately, my job was working for an electrical distributorship, and I was also on the company’s board. We had a board meeting scheduled in Indiana the day after the NY marathon was to be run. What to do?
Here’s where I tell you about my very considerate employer. Explaining my dilemma to our CEO, he thought a minute then announced there was a similar electrical distributor in Manhattan, NY, he was interested in learning more about. He suggested the company fly me to New York, check out the other company, run the marathon, then fly back that night, in time for the board meeting the next day. How about that!
The race was an unbelievable experience. At this point in my running career, I was tape recording my races by velcroing a small tape recorder to my hip during races. The original purpose was recording split times at each mile marker. However, I also made comments on how I was feeling and the sights I was seeing during the race. Those comments became much more interesting than the split times.
Before the New York race, I had purchased a pair of New Balance running shoes. Their appeal was their $100 price tag compared to Nikes and Adidas which generally sold for $30. Must be at least three times better, I figured.
Although I had broken the shoes in during training runs, in New York, in addition to thousands of spectators along the race route, Fire Departments had fire trucks at each intersection spraying an arc of water over the runners. The water felt good initially, but I soon became completely soaked and my feet started slipping in those $100 shoes.
The race course wound through five boroughs of New York and crossed numerous bridges over waterways. The bridges were elevated to allow boats to pass under them and were very steep. My feet were slipping around in the wet shoes and blisters became painfully obvious. Blood was seen soaking through the shoes. At one point on my recording, you hear my breathless voice exclaim, “Uh-oh, I think one of my toes just came off.”
At the 16-mile marker, I heard a loud speaker announce that Alberto Salazar had just won the race. Great, and I still had 6.2 miles to go.
The race finished in Central Park. Thousands upon thousands of spectators lined the finishing miles, some choking down the course to just a few feet. A Frank Sinatra recording of “New York, New York” was blasting away over the park. It was very emotional. A number of runners were weeping. Me? …. well, no comment.
My time; 3 hours and 43 minutes. Thirteen minutes slower than my Boston qualifying time. I placed 7,100 behind the winner, but that meant I beat 82% of the field of 60,000 applicants. So now wrapped in the complimentary foil blanket, I had to get back to my hotel, shower, and catch a cab to the airport for my return to Indiana.
So how does it feel to run 26 miles and then have to hustle off for a three hour airline flight. Not good. I slathered my legs with Ben Gay to avoid cramping and hailed a cab.
The cab driver, unaware of the marathon, was complaining about all the streets being closed. I explained the reason and admitted I had just participated and wondered if he could smell the analgesic balm I had covered myself with.
“Hell, yes,” he said. “But I thought you had some Chinese food with you.”
Chinese food? Man, what do you eat?
I made the board meeting the next day, but was moving rather slow.