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Saturday, September 21, 2019
CEBU

Pages: New York, New York

SEVEN mornings ago, my wife Jasmin and I joined thousands of others in Staten Island as a loud “BOOM!” erupted, signaling the start of the earth’s biggest 42K race: the New York City Marathon. Then, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” song blasted over the loud speakers. Our hearts trembled, legs shuffled, arms raised.

By day’s end, there would be 52,812 of us who traversed the 42.195 km. distance — a world record for the most number of marathon finishers.

From Staten Island, we climbed the 4.1-km.-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, descending into Brooklyn. After a dozen or so miles, we disembarked in Queens, alighted in Manhattan, passed through the Bronx before finishing in Central Park. In all, the NYC Marathon guided us along all of New York City’s five boroughs.

The crowd and cheering were incredible. Imagine 2.5 million people coming out of their apartments to line the streets with posters that read, “You Run Better Than Our Govt. and Trump!” Children carried placards with signs that said, “Tap Here For Power!” Dozens of live bands scattered the route. Beer overflowed as partygoers high-fived us. Runners donned costumes, some with chicken-head attire and others dressed as Captain America. One marathoner was an amputee, painfully carrying one leg in front of the other.

Jasmin and I snapped dozens of photos and videos along the way. One picture was with Monsignor Robert Ritchie. The day before, Fr. Bob celebrated the 5:30 p.m. mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral where he requested all marathoners to go to the altar for a special blessing that had many of us teary-eyed.

My wife Jasmin’s relatives — the Girado family — waited at Km. 26 with blown-up posters of our faces to cheer us on.

The NYC Marathon was more than a 42-km. race on our New Balance sneakers. It was a reunion of runners meeting family members. Of ordinary folks inspiring others of their determination to run a crazy-long-distance.

It was a city tour; an excursion not by subway or bus — but by God’s manmade legs. As the roads were closed, we trekked pathways that would never be open to foot traffic except for every first Sunday of November.

From Cebu, we were joined by two other distinguished marathoners. Amale Mendezona Jopson is a two-time Boston Marathon finisher. Amale finished the NYC Marathon last Sunday in a speedy 3 hours and 54 minutes. The other Cebuano was Gifford Perral, whose NYC expedition was his 22nd marathon race.

The weather last Nov. 4 was perfect. It rained for two straight days before the race and for two consecutive days after — but not on race day, when the sun shone brightly and the skies were light blue and the temperature a cool 12C degrees.

Jasmin and I finished the 42K in six hours and 48 minutes. We had a good time. And by “good time,” I don’t mean a fast, good time; but “good time,” meaning we had a fascinating husband-and-wife bonding session touring America’s biggest city — a running experience that we will forever cherish.


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