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The Anatomy of a Race

Six days left. Can’t wait. New York City Marathon is a very special race. Arguably the most well-known and certainly the most popular marathon in the world. Normally you have to apply for it a couple of years in advance (due to complicated application rules which I won’t delve into here, and since hurricane Sandy led to the last-minute cancellation of last year’s race we’ve literally been waiting for three years to have a go. The London marathon is probably the most famous marathon in Europe with almost 35 000 runners having completed the race this year, and the marathon in Berlin is well-known for its flat course suitable for PB’s. It’s also the marathon where most world records have been set (six times in all with the current WR being set this year at 2.03.23 by Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich). The biggest marathon in Europe, Paris, had almost 39 000 finishers this year. Athens marathon (which dad and I ran – geez – five years ago) is most emphatically one of the classics and the oldest annually held marathon (since 1897) in the world, Boston, is another. Finally, we have the races in Chicago and Tokyo which together with Boston, London, Berlin and New York City form the famous six Marathon Majors. But honestly, none of them can really hold a candle to New York, can it?

So, where exactly is the race run?

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The run starts at the bottom of the map, on Staten Island, and will bring us through all of the five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan. We leave Staten Island almost immediately and run up the Verazzano-Narrows bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world upon it’s completion in 1964. Entering Brooklyn, we might as well settle into a steady rhythm as almost half the race is run through its hip streets. The 25’th km will bring us due west across Queensboro bridge and above Roosevelt Island before we hit Manhattan for the very first time.

Having a drink on Queensboro bridge.

Having a drink on Queensboro bridge.

Crossing the bridge, we’ll turn north onto First Avenue and run all the way through Harlem and over to the Bronx where we’ll only spend a little more than a mile before turning south towards Manhattan again. This is where it’ll get really nasty, hitting 33 k. The glycogen we’ve been working hard to store in our muscles prior to the race will start to reach bottom levels around here and if we haven’t been replenishing our energy reserves with gels and fluid, we’ll be down and out. Permanently. Finally heading south along Fifth Avenue and entering Central Park for the final 5 k will be breathtaking. Or so the legends go.

The northern end of Central Park with Illka and Jakob just before summer.

The northern end of Central Park with Illka and Jakob just before summer.

Six days left. Can’t wait.

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