This is a quick outline associated with my travels to and from NYC, along with the craziness associated with the race cancellation. I will write a race report soon. The marathon was a hot topic in a world post-Sandy. This, as the Brooklyn Nets and New York Giants fill their respective stadiums in NYC and New Jersey and their impact overlooked.
I do support the decision to cancel this marathon. This feeling was shared throughout the running community; however, the city welcomed us, ensuring our efforts would contribute to a healing community. The decision to attend the marathon preceded the media frenzy of storm damage and devastation.
Our (my wife and I) amazing race began 48 hours prior to the gun. My first flight was cancelled 24 hours prior to take off. I frantically fought through a overloaded Jet Blue phone system to rebook my flight, taking flight 8 hours later than initially anticipated. Landing in JFK at 4pm, we met up with fellow runners to split a cab to Time Square. Without tuning in to the national and local news, you would have no idea that such devastation was right around the corner. The trek to Time Square took roughly 45 minutes. Conversations darted in and out of marathon talk, but a common theme was evident—it’s too late to cancel it now, everyone is already here. We pulled up to the curb in Time Square and what was seemingly simultaneous, our phones began to vibrate and jingle. A visible disbelief confirmed that the marathon was cancelled. A quiet panic was evident within the group and throughout the hotel lobby. Tens of thousands of runners descended upon the city from around the globe, believing that the city and governor couldn’t cancel the marathon less than 48 hours prior to the start. Could they?
The cancellation was complicated for my wife and me. We planned to spend a few days in the city and then continue our trip to Florida for a friend’s wedding. All week I was waiting for this very notice, for the race to be cancelled. I had contingency plans that included alternate marathons and how I planned on modifying our flights and reservations; however, I never expected to be making the necessary changes Friday night in a hotel hallway.
It seemed almost instantaneous. When the cancellation announcement was made, the Hamilton Marathon announced their plan to open 250 first-come-first-serve spots to NYC Marathon refugees. Being in NYC and roughly 400+ miles from Hamilton, I thought there was a slim shot of not only getting there, but also securing a spot. I dialed Delta Airlines and considered my options. Being roughly 8pm, I switched my flights around and made the decision to go for it. With my wife, 2 checked bags, 2 carry ons, and a laptop in tow, we made our way through Time Square, wrestled our way onto the #1 train, and made our way up to Columbia University where a family member put us up for the night. I contemplated the decision all night.
At this point it was evident that the decision to run was going to be bitter sweet. You build yourself up for the all encompassing NYC marathon; it’s a unique experience (so I hear). I became torn between staying to volunteer or flee for another marathon. The decision wasn’t easy. The plane tickets were changed before the organization of a formal volunteer system for runners and I couldn’t fathom going through the long process of re-structuring our entire trip (again).
My wife and I were sharing a twin bed while the alarm sounded at 4:20am. We lethargically made our way into the 30 degree weather to hail a cab to LaGuardia airport. By 7:15am we were on our way back to Buffalo, NY. Once grounded, we gathered our luggage and began the trek, some 80 minutes north, to Hamilton, Canada. The trip up was uneventful. The plan was to drive up with no familiarization (or GPS) to the area, sign up, and then figure the rest out (food, shelter, etc). If the race was full we would turn around and head back to Buffalo.
It was 7 hours since the alarm blared and we pulled into a parking spot for the marathon expo. The way things have played out, part of me expected the race to be full—a Murphy’s Law-ish few days. As it turned out, the race wasn’t full. I signed up and met up with a few other runners/triathlete friends who were signed up for NYC (luckily they never made the trip). Once again, with my wife in tow, we set off for pancakes, a shower, and a roof over our head.
Until this point, everything appeared to be an unraveling ball of pre-race hell. I had a specific plan for pre-race—this was not it.