Spectator @ 2011 New York City Marathon

Last January 2, 2012, Monday, the registration for the 2012 New York City Marathon has opened and most of the runners will have to wait for the result of the lottery before the middle of the year. I predict that at this time, many of the local Pinoy runners had already applied for this race despite the costs and resources one have to save and spend just to be able to experience the feeling to join the most popular and well-attended “street party” among runners in the world.

Hopefully, my observations during my experience as one of the spectators of the most popular and most attended Marathon Race In The World would in any way, help or provide positive ideas for them to experience more FUN in joining this event. Race Organizers have also to take note on the different factors why this marathon race keeps on growing and increasing its participants every year.

In the 2010 edition of the race, my daughter Jovelle was able to finish the New York City Marathon and she gained a lot of experience about the place and the event.

In the last year’s edition, my son John Paul was lucky enough to get a slot through lottery and I promised him that I will join him as one of his “chearers” and supporter for the race. It will be also a chance for me to see New York City for the first time!

So, the promise was fulfilled when I went with him to New York City for the race together with my wife and John’s girlfriend, Sharon. I cheered him along the portions of the route and took some photos of him up to the Finish Line. My tour along the streets and subway of New York City was very efficient because of the help of my niece, Mariegelle, who is presently residing and working in one of the hospitals in the city as Physical Therapist.

John Paul @ Mile 8 in Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Now I know why the New York City Marathon is the most attended and popular marathon race in the world. Through my almost 5 days stay in the city, I was able to observe a lot of things about the people, the city, and the marathon race itself.

The following are my personal reasons why New York City Marathon is simply the BEST Marathon Race in the World:

1. The City Government of New York and its instrumentalities are totally in support to the event. All of the city’s services and agencies are totally committed for the success of the event. All the government agencies are considered as MAJOR SPONSORS of the event! There is even a competition between the teams of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department where the top 5 finishers of each team are counted. This tradition of competition event started after the 9/11 incident and last year’s competition was its 1oth year! (Maybe, I have to create also a competition between the AFP and the PNP in the yearly BDM 102 Ultra Race in the years to come!)

Spectators & Runners @ Mile 8 In Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Lots Of Spectators Along The Route @ Mile 16 in Lexington Ave Near The Queensboro Bridge

2. The people of New York City knows that the Marathon Event promotes Sports Tourism. You can just imagine 47,000+ runners plus “cheerers” and family members of runners flock to the city and each of them spend money for food, lodging, transportation, and shopping. I read somewhere that almost 2 Million people were considered as spectators and 315 Million people who watched the TV Live Coverage worldwide. The tremendous amount of income the service establishments would earn out of the visitors of the city because of the marathon race is a big boost to the economy of the place. If a visitor spends at least $500-$1,000 for food, transportation (within the city), amusement and shopping, not including the hotel accommodation, it boils down to million of dollars that is being spent for the duration of the event. (Note: In a report commissioned by the New York City Runners, the 2010 ING New York Marathon generated $ 340 Million for the City of New York in terms of hotel, travel, food, entertaiment, and retail. It also raised $ 30.8 Million for Charities)

Got A Space But Too Far From The Passing Runners (Take Note of those Potalets) @ Mile 16

3. Almost ALL the Nations in the World are represented in the Event. Looking at the result of the finishers by country, I found out that there were 32 Pinoy Runners who finished the marathon race. However, I have yet to find out the list of these runners and their respective finish times. This shows that we, as Pinoy runners in the said marathon, were not coordinated. There was no “point man” or informal “leader” who could be responsible in collating the list of Pinoy Finishers in this event. How I wish our local Running Magazines would be able to post the list of names of runners and their respective finish times in the 2011 New York Cit Marathon. (Note: I hope Jonel aka FrontRunner Magazine will have the initiative to post this list in his Magazine. Thanks!)

On The Last 400 Yards To The Finish Line @ Central Park
More Spectators Lined Up Near The Finish Line @ Central Park

4. The event has the most expensive registration fee among the world’s marathon races but it is worth the experience. You are paying for a “once in a lifetime” experience as a runner and a Finisher must be proud to have joined it. The Race Organizer, together with the City Government of New York, the populace and the private sector, are fully coordinated and well-oiled to provide a “world-class” marathon race experience. I think there is nothing to rant or complain about the needs of the runners in this event. My son and daughter’s feedbacks were all positive and they really enjoyed the experience of finishing the Marathon Race. (Note: I never heard or read any complaints from Pinoy Runners who Finished about the high cost of registration fee in this Marathon Race).

The following were my observations among the runners from other nations: (1) The French runners stayed in ONE Hotel which happened to be the place where my wife and I stayed and I am sure most of the other countries’ runners have stayed in one hotel for easy coordination and maybe, with a discounted hotel charges. (2) Countries like France, Peru, Brazil, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and others have a distinct uniform with the name of the country written on their upper garments! Some have their national flag colors as their shirts’ color combination. (3) Most of the team from each country arrived at the Finish Line as a Group. I was impressed to see a group of runners from South Korea arriving at the Finish Line in a line formation with their National Flag infront of them and they had a finish time of 4:20+ hours! I guess, the Pinoy runners failed on these things that I’ve mentioned.

@ Madison Square Garden, New York!

Spectators Are Amazing. You won’t believe me if I say that the whole route of the event was full of spectators from Start to Finish cheering the runners as they pass.The number of spectators was simply amazing and uncomprehensible. I could hardly sneak myself on the inner edge of the road because of the thick line of spectators. Noise of cheers and ringing of cowbells filled the air along the route of the race.

So, what makes the New York City Marathon as the best among the best of the Marathon Races of the World? First, it’s the place. The roads and bridges could be very narrow as compared to the newer cities in California but there is something that makes the city very unique. Second, the organization. The City and its instrumentalities together with the private sector and the New York Road Runners Club are united and fully coordinated, it’s a well-oiled machine that has perfected the conduct of a big-time marathon race! Third, the people of New York City. They know how to treat their visitors as more tourists to their city means more “bucks” for the economy. They knew that tourists will keep on coming back to their city. Fourth, 100% Media exposure. No neeed to explain this. The whole TV network of the city had a live coverage of the event and the written media were alive on the event before and after the event. Fifth, Cash Prize for the Elite Runners. Just “google” the topic on how much the cash prize for the winner is and you will be amazed by the numbers.

And what are now the lessons and suggestions we could get from this post?

1. Pinoy Runners who are qualified to run (through lottery and special arrangements with its sponsors) this race should be well-coordinated. Maybe, somebody should be able to unite and be able control the group so that the country is well represented. I hope the local Heads of the Corporate Sponsors of the event should be the one who would coordinate the trip, accommodation, and the itinerary of the whole Pinoy group of runners. Each runner should spend for their respective travel from Manila to New York and back.

2. Coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs so that our Consulate in New York would be able to assist in finding a cheap & decent place where our Pinoy Runners will be billeted. Maybe, a Pinoy Restaurant in New York City would cater for the food of the group during their stay in the city. The RP Consulate in New York has all these information and it would be of great help to the runners.

3. One of the local Corporate Sponsors should provide, at least, an upper garment which will serve as the group’s attire during the event. A long-sleeved technical shirt & a RP Jacket for each of the runner is not worth a million pesos for the whole group even if the NAME OF THE CORPORATE SPONSOR will occupy one-half portion of the attire! What is important is that the group shall be identifiable as runners from the PHILIPPINES! (Are you listening, TIMEX; GATORADE; SMART; GLOBE; UNILAB; CONDURA; etc?)

4. C’mon guys, it’s about time to send one or two of our local top marathon runners to this event. Let us stop sponsoring runners who could finish their best time in more than 4 hours! We are not showing our Best of Bests to represent our country in this prestigious Marathon Race. Corporate Sponsors should wake up on this. If you think our elites will no longer return to the country after they have tasted what it is like to be in the United States of America, you are dead wrong! Supposing, you will select one of my Elite Runners to participate in this event, I will volunteer to work out for the approval of their papers to travel abroad (if they are from the active military service) and I will be responsible that they will return to the country after the event.

5. If you have plans of joining this Marathon Race and you don’t have a friend or a relative in New York City, you have to save a lot of money. It will cost you a fortune to experience what it is like to visit the city and run the New York City Marathon. And you should know how to read a MAP; use their Subway transport system; and don’t be shy to ask for directions from people on the streets.

6. If there is a Race Organizer of Marathon Races locally who has the vision to transform one or two of the existing Marathon Races in the country to be like the New York City Marathon, it could be done! However, there is a need to involve EVERYBODY!

Now, if you ask me if I will make an attempt to register and run this prestigious marathon? Not a priority issue this time. I would rather register and attempt for my first 100-mile trail run whose registration fee is far cheaper than the NYC Marathon!

See you at the Starting Line!


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