Despite Sandy, New York City Marathon still beckons Tulsans to compete
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 2:55 AM
Kathryn White has run 138 marathons - six in the ING New York City Marathon, which is still slated to take place Sunday in the Big Apple despite the bite Hurricane Sandy took out of it.
And locals - often as many as 20 or 30 a year - still plan on attending.
Like DeAnna Cooper, whose travel plans were jostled because of the storm - canceled flights, cabs, four-hour train rides.
"Honestly, I feel like I am on that show 'Amazing Race,' " said Cooper via email while she was traveling. A faculty member at Tulsa Community College, she has run 12 marathons. Sunday's event in New York will be her second there.
As of early Wednesday, no plans had been made to cancel or postpone the race, and the marathon's website has posted no changes to the schedule.
"If you like to people-watch, in general, this is the race to run," said White, who will be a pace-team leader.
Among the things she remembers from years past include a heavily tattooed man with a globe drawn on his bald head, a runner leading a French contingent while wearing a 10-foot-plus Eiffel Tower replica and the large number of disabled runners with guides.
"It is a race for everyone," she said of the annual marathon, which runs through the streets of New York's five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan.
More than 40,000 will run in the marathon, said Tim Dreiling, co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports. He's run the marathon once but has been to New York multiple times to see it.
When you run for charity, you receive guaranteed entry to the marathon, according to the event's website. Last year, the official charity program was made up of more than 200 charities that raised a record $34 million-plus for myriad causes.
A small percentage of spots in the race are open to lottery, Dreiling said, and tens of thousands of people apply each year.
The marathon is gradually phasing out its "three strikes and you're in" rule, Dreiling said - a rule in which a person trying to get into the race via lottery fails three times but was automatically entered the fourth time.
Her first year for the marathon, Stefanie Atherton got in through the lottery but chose to run for charity - specifically, Fred's Team, which benefits pediatric cancer research. She ran for charity again - this time, Team Hole in the Wall, benefiting terminally ill children - in 2008.
This year, she's running for Team for Kids, a group of adult runners from around the world who raise funds on behalf of New York Road Runners' youth services.
On the same team is fellow Tulsan Molly Pellegrini. Their team has raised more than $30,000 for Team for Kids.
"It makes running even more rewarding," said Pellegrini, a director with Tulsa's Route 66 Marathon. She has run 13 marathons total, and Sunday will be her second New York marathon.
"The atmosphere at the start is absolutely amazing, and I ran with the adrenaline," she said. Having gone out too fast and suffered cramps early, as well as having to put up with aggressiveness from other runners, the crowd support - including her family - helped her push through.
"I love running in Central Park, and when the marathon enters the park at mile 23-ish, it's great to focus on something other than the pain of running the hills and bridges," she said.
Of all 14 marathons she's done, New York's is the most difficult, said Stefanie Atherton, who cited logistics, crowds and difficulty of the course. In fact, the first time she did it, it ticked her off, and she vowed never again.
Sunday, however, will be her third.
"This is the love-hate of New York City," Atherton said. "It's so challenging and unlike any other event."
It's not the race to run a personal best, White said - it's to enjoy. You can either be frustrated with it or "ride it out."
Runners will be required to wait outside for several hours before the start, White continued, and it's often cold, sometimes rainy.
Getting up before dawn to go to Staten Island, only to wait three hours while officials close all roads leading back to Central Park South, is challenging, Atherton said - "not only because we never train like that - we run all our long runs early a.m. because it's usually so hot here during our training season - but also because you never know what the weather will be while you are waiting."
In 2008, she was huddled in the cab of a UPS truck with about 12 other people because it was so windy and cold outside.
"The sea of runners is just unimaginable," she said.
Both times Atherton has run, she made a point to take out her earphones and listen to the retired New York police officer on Central Park South talking to the runners through a megaphone, she said, when asked what her favorite New York marathon memories were. The former cop was reminding everybody to take in all the sights and sounds, and praising their accomplishments.
"My favorite part is finishing," she said.
Original Print Headline: Despite Sandy, NYC Marathon still beckons
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
The New York City Marathon is scheduled to take place Sunday despite the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. LARRY ROSA / Timex / AP