The bus leaves well before the sun decides to make an appearance.
It’s quiet – everyone is in their own space, doing what they need to do to visualise what is yet to come as you cruise through the streets of the city that never sleeps.
The Village at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island – there’s nothing quite like it…Security is ridiculously tight given what happened only days earlier and you feel safe..partly because of the Police and Army presence but mainly because this is the place where you can dare to dream.
125 different countries are represented by over 50,000 runners this year and it is a wonderful sight to behold…the noise…the colour and the atmosphere…electric.
Into your corral you go and the wait begins…you feel the nervous energy as runners speak, or in some instances sign with each other… you are all walks of life all with the same goal…earn that medal.
Off to the start line you go…the National Anthem is sung and you can’t help but embrace the patriotism….the cannon blasts and you’re off to the sounds of Frank Sinatra singing New York. Nobody does over the top like America and it’s bloody awesome.
The start is up the Verrazano Bridge with sweeping views of New York to your left but there’s no time to take them in…it’s 2km uphill and the same down..one foot in front of the other as you try and find your rhythm.
Brooklyn is your first Borough and what a way to hit the 5km marker…so many people, so much noise…it lifts you and your feet fly..there is so much love in the air and it takes all that you have not to sprint.
Onto Queens you go and the party continues as the mix of races explode in a sea of colour and noise…even the notoriously quiet conservative Jewish section is politely, yet quietly cheering you on, giving you a moment to collect your thoughts, do a body scan and push on. Then you hear the theme from Rocky and you lift again as you hit the Queensborough bridge.
Manhattan is next and First Avenue is everything you’ve dreamt of…a sea of hundreds and thousands, both sides of the street…you’ve hit the 25km mark and by the time this stretch ends it’s 32km..this is where the Marathon begins so soak it up, reset yourself and get ready for the real race.
You turn into The Bronx & Harlem…Gospel Choirs on one side…Rap and R&B on the other and you want to stop and soak it all in but you know you can’t. So many voices cheering for you….encouraging you…willing you to keep going.
Back into Manhattan for the last 7km…5th Avenue, a few quick turns, Columbus Circle & then you’re there…Central Park.
2km to go…the crowds are right on top of you…the noise….incredible….it’s as if the whole city has stopped just for today…1.2 Million people you find out later…speechless.
Your body is screaming at you to stop but your mind is telling your body to shut up. Then you see the sign…800 metres to go….200 metres to go and then it’s there, the Finish line.
As you cross the line you scream, you cry and you scream some more. You hug the volunteer that gave you your medal and you cry some more.
You’ve done it, you completed The New York Marathon…now go an celebrate like never before.