On the morning of the ING New York City Marathon last year, runners who’d been training hard for months did not head for the starting line. They organized group runs in city parks, distributed supplies to Hurricane Sandy victims on Staten Island…or slept in.
“We took some donations and then ran 10 miles in Central Park that day,” remembers blogger Leticia Mosqueda, who was supposed to make her marathon debut. “There were tons of other runners, and it felt like marathon day, but it wasn’t.”
The cancellation of the iconic race in 2012, the first since its debut in 1970, was a huge disappointment for runners, many of whom flew to the city from countries around the world, and a general air of sadness hung around the event due to Sandy’s horrific effects.
All of this means that this year’s race is an even bigger deal than usual, and with about 48,000 runners expected, it’ll also be the biggest ever—partially because 2012 registrants were given the choice of guaranteed entry, and many decided to go for it again this year.
“It’s sort of been two years in the making,” says Bernadette Chan, a teacher and blogger. “I get the sense that there’s a lot of pent-up excitement.”
The 2012 Marathon would have been Chan’s first. But when it was canceled, she ran the Harrisburg Marathon a week later, so her training wouldn’t go to waste. So while completing her first-ever marathon in New York is no longer an option, she’s even more excited for her second. “I was born and raised in the city, so it’s sort of a tour through my home.”
Other circumstances may be playing a role in making this year’s marathon feel more significant, too. “Unfortunately with the Boston bombing, that’s another reason this is so huge. People want another way to commemorate that,” says Denise Aguilar, a sales marketing specialist who’s also running on November 3. “I feel the energy every time I talk about it with someone else. It’s definitely different this year.”
One thing she found that’s not different? The difficulty preparing for 26.2 miles. “I’m definitely more prepared, more focused, and more determined [than last year], but I think the pain is the same,” she admits.
The pain, of course, will most likely fade into excitement as the finish line approaches. New Yorkers, after all, know how to make each achievement bigger and better than the last. “This is a dream I’ve had for two years. I’ve dreamed about this marathon,” admits Mosqueda. “New Yorkers want to put on a huge show. They know that despite the devastation of Sandy, this marathon is about New York.” —Lisa Elaine Held