The more races I spectate, the more I realize how much I actually love it! If there was a job that paid people to cheer at races, I would sign up in a heartbeat! Getting to cheer for a race during our NYC trip was probably my favourite part of the entire weekend!
On Saturday morning we headed to the start line in time for Michelle, Cathy & Jen to warm up!
Carmy & I guarded the bags until they were ready and then we headed to the finish line to watch! As we walked it felt like the mile was ETERNAL! I wasn’t disappointed to not be running!
Camry stopped about 200m from the finish and I went right to the finish line. The race is organized by age categories and starts in the morning and finishes with the elite runners in the afternoon. I arrived just in time to see the end of the current wave finishing. As I watched, I saw a man struggling. Then I saw him suddenly go to the side of the road to give someone a hug and kiss before heading toward the finish. When he was close enough for me to see his face, I could tell that this was a man who had decided to make some changes in his life and this mile run was so much more than a mile to him. I have no idea who he is, but his grit and determination brought me to tears as I cheered along with the crowd when he crossed the finish line with his arms raised.
Michelle and Cathy’s wave was next and I was so nervous my hand was shaking as I held my phone up to try to get a picture! I saw the lead car cresting over the top of 5th Avenue and could see some tiny women running behind. As the women got closer I realized Michelle was in 3rd place completely giving this race her all! I screamed my head off as she ran by and probably annoyed the people close to me:)
Somehow I missed Cathy in the crowd as she went by, but I honestly think it is because she finished in such an amazing time that I wasn’t fully paying attention! I am so proud of her for crushing her first mile and first destination race!
After we went to congratulate the girls, we headed back to the side of the road to continue watching the other runners. It wasn’t long until the wheelchair division started. As the racers got closer I realized that it was kids as young as 8 years old in their wheelchairs racing to the finish. As I watched them head to the finish my eyes filled with tears and then I couldn’t stop crying. I turned to the ladies next to me and saw that their eyes were filled with tears too. I whine a lot about my running (just being honest) but I’m not sure how I would feel if I couldn’t actually run at all. To see those kids find another way to participate in races truly just blew my mind. They were the heroes of the mile that day. (Photo courtesy of NYRR)
Eventually it was time for the elite runners to race. The women were first with American Jenny Simpson winning for the 5th year in a row! Laura Muir was second and Heather Kampf finished 3rd.
The elite men were the final racers of the day and it was as if they were flying as the went by. I cannot believe how fast they can run! I was pretty pumped to snag the 2nd place finisher Centro for a pic after the race. I nearly knocked over Michelle, Cathy and an actual professional athlete in the process due to my excitement!
Eric Jenkins pulled off the win and I found this picture on the race website later. Huge thanks to the photographer for capturing this moment. I love it!
As the day ended I realized I had a sore throat from screaming; I had laughed and cried; and I had conversations with so many people I had never met. My heart was full of so many beautiful moments I will never forget!