My weekend in New York, by Gary Morgan, AKA Mr. Ubiquitous, for Michigan Runner

2014 TCS NYCM Expo, photo by Mike Deering for The Shoe Addicts

Gary Morgan is known as Mr. Ubiquitous. A 1988 Olympian at the 20k racewalk, Gary is now a pacer at over twenty to thirty races a year. I call Gary not only a friend, but also, he should be called the Marathon Whisperer. If you are in a pace group with Gary, rest assured, you will make your goal. The guy can run 3:30 to 5 hours in his sleep. 

Gary wrote this piece on the New York City Marathon. You can find his pieces at

Nov 1st, 2014

  Another early morning as we get up and Danie runs over to the start of the Dash to the Finish line 5k. This is all part of the NYC marathon weekend events going on. Over 7,400 runners came out to do this 5k that starts at the United Nations building on 1st avenue and 51st street, then, finishes in Central Park on the finish line for the NYC marathon.  

It's a fun run for all the people who don't run the marathon, yet can still run something in New York city during marathon weekend. With a light, misty rain, it was a great day for a run. A  NYAC women, 2012 Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, won the women's race and 2012 Olympian Donn Cabral won the men's race. Since it was raining, every one cleared out quick. Danie and I eventually made it to the expo. 

As we toured the expo it was extremely crowded. I stopped by the Pacer booth and talked to my buddy Marty Wanless from Vancouver, B.C., who was manning the Running USA booth. I had stayed with him during the Vancouver winter Olympics in 2010. Hard to believe that was over fouryears ago. Time goes by quickly. Danie and I took some pictures of the banners in the Javits Center and then went and had lunch near Times Square. Since it was raining, we didn't do much sight seeing. Went back to the room took a nap and watched the football games. 

At 6 p.m., we went to the pasta dinner.  The New York Road Runners had put up a huge tent on the Tavern on the Green former Restaurant spot. Thousands come and have a pasta dinner the night before the marathon. Its a blast at the dinner. Plus, for it being a mass produced dinner, the pasta is pretty good. Music is being played loud and the TV stations are there. Everyone is having a great time. 

We sit next to a group of German runners. Luckily one of them knows English. Talking to him, I find out he was running his sixteeth New York City marathon, same as me. I told him about the celebration of runners who have run fifteen NYC marathons or more. He said he didn't get an invite. Maybe they only sent them out to USA residents. He was more of a Triathlete than marathoner since he has done five Ironman Triathlons. 

Lots of people were dancing including some Brazilians and they were having a blast. It was a festive event,  and if you ever get a chance to go to it, Do it. It's a hard ticket to get since its mostly reserved for the foreign athletes who are running. We called it an early evening since it was going to be an early morning.

Nov 2nd, 2014

  NYC Marathon Sunday is here.  Early morning, when you get up at 4:30. Got ready to run and walked down to 50th and 7th avenue to take the bus out to the start on Staten Island. It was the Race directors' bus and usually it takes out the race directors who just go out to watch the start. Since there was so much wind and they were having problems on the bridge, they didn't take non marathoners out there. 

I had gotten Danie a ticket to go out there. She had to stay in the city and had breakfast with my buddy Marty Wanless and his friends. Consolation of it all was that they all had Grandstand tickets and got to see the winners. I boarded the bus and we left at 6:15 and didn't get there until 7:30. There was an accident on the bridge because of the wind. 

When we stepped off the bridge the wind almost knocked us down. Being out here next to the ocean and nothing to stop it, you can really notice it out here. With gusts of wind over 50 mph it played havoc with a variety of things. Especially, putting up tents. They didn't put up as many tents and didn't put as many sides on them. I was in the pacer tent and they didn't tie down the sides. 

It was the usual marathon scene before the race: Lots of runners trying to stay warm, lying down on newspapers or whatever they could find. Getting coffee, Gatorade, water, bagels and power bars before the race. Then, lots of clothing being left behind as runners head into the corals for their start. 

I usually start in the first wave, but since I was pacing the 4:45 group I had to wait until the fourth wave which didn't start until 10:55. First wave went out at 9:40. Gave me time to meet my fellow pacers. One lady was pacing the six hour walkers and it was her first marathon ever. Finding pacers who want to be at the end can be a hard sell. She was excited. 

One of the pacers had last years' cool, orange fleece-lined poncho that she was ditching at the start. If I could have tied it to my waist, I would have taken it. It's amazing what runners ditch at the start of a marathon.  Some expensive clothing gets donated to Goodwill. At least it gets used again, all six tons of it. 

I had my picture taken before the start with the big bridge behind me. I finally get in the blue coral and I'm in the back of the coral with my 4:45 sign. We finally start moving towards the bridge. We just keep on moving. The wave started as we were walking up to the start. They are playing Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York". 

I see the other waves are completely on the bridge. I'm towards the back of everyone. I had five people say they wanted to run with me, so off we went. It was windy on that bridge. I had to hang on to my hat and I kept my windbreaker on for a long ways into the race to keep warm. I heard that the wheelers started three miles into race course in Brooklyn. So it became a 23 mile race for them. 

As soon as We got over the bridge and into Brooklyn I saw lots of clothing runners had dropped to keep from over-heating. I kept my jacket on until the five mile mark. 

Truthfully, after we got off the bridge the wind wasn't a major factor after the bridge. As I ran the race, I couldn't believe how crowded it was. It seemed more crowded than ever and there's four waves. Plus the aid stations had a hard time keeping up giving out water and Gatorade. 

As I ran, I figured that with 51,000 runners split over 4 waves that would be just shy of 13,000 runners per wave. It seemed super crowded this year. I had to take a pit stop at 8.5 miles at the porta john for one minute. 

It was funny that one woman who was running with me waited until I came back out. She really wanted to run 4:45. It was her first marathon. By 20 mile mark I never saw her. I don't know how she did. 

Even though I've run this course fifteen times, there's always something new or different to observe running it. The one section just before the 59th street bridge had a lot more spectators there. I had heard that part of town was being revitalized from industrial to residential. It's working,  as there were lots of people cheering us on. 

Running over the 59th street bridge is a task as its the second biggest bridge and hill on the course. Yet you know when you get off it there will be thousands cheering you on for the last 10 miles. At the 18 mile mark the power bar gel station is open as they give out those gels to help you finish the last 8 miles of the race. 

At the 20 mile mark, you cross into the Bronx and the music is always super loud. Last year they were playing "YMCA", I couldn't remember what they were playing this year.  At twenty-one miles, we cross over another small bridge into Harlem and Manhattan. At this point only five miles more to go. 

I have no runners with me wanting to run 4:45, but they ask me what I'm pacing and the runners say I want to run that time or I gotta stay ahead of you. It's like a cat and mouse game. Makes it fun. 

At 22 miles, I  got the long one mile gradual hill from 110th to 90th, Ding! 

20 blocks is a mile. 

It feels so good to run into Central park knowing you have just a little over 2.5 miles to finish and you're done with that crazy, grinding hill. Some small hills up and down in the park.

Just after the 25 mile mark, you hit Central Park south and run up that hill which is large at this point in the race. I love it though, because I get to run by my Club, the New York athletic Club. Club members are out here cheering us on. 

Plus its only half a mile to the finish. 

Turn at Columbus Circle into the park and the final straight away where they have a 400 meter sign, 26 mile sign, and a 200 meter sign to the finish. 

Then everyone gets to cross the most famous finish line in the world: theNew York City marathon finish line. 

It's still a thrill to cross that line after all these years. 

As Mary Wittenberg says "There's no place like New York and nobody does it like New York"!

That's 1000% true. 

I took a picture at the finish line, and was watching the runners come in as they were ecstatic about finishing. 

I got my medal, food, then walked in the long procession on the park road all the way to 77th street. 

The race finishes at 66th street. 

Plus the street curves. 

Once we get out to Central Park West, we get our blue fleece-lined poncho coats. 

Then, I walk to 63rd street, and head up to my room at the YMCA. Great location for the end of the race. I met Danie just before reaching the YMCA.

They have family and friends wait around 66th street to meet the runners. I clean up and we head over to the NYAC to meet my friends for drinks and food. It is time to celebrate. 

This was around 5:30 and it was dark. There was still runners finishing. Only in New York, runners keep coming in after dark. I love it. I get in the club and see lots of my friends, having a great time. 

Since most of them don't run the marathon any more. They congratulate me and we all talk about the race and drink a few beers. Eventually we have dinner and every one calls it an early night at 8:30

Since I started early I was whipped. What a great day. Every marathoner has to put this race on there bucket list. It's the worlds greatest marathon. Live the dream.

Nov 3rd, 2014

   I finally get up, a little stiff and sore, but ready to take on the city again. We walkover to finish area, where they are selling marathon merchandise and taking pictures of the finish line. 

From there we walk across the 72nd traverse and to 90th street entrance then to 89th street, to the original building where the New York Road Runners started. 

We went there to get Danie's  award in the 5k. They only gave awards to the top 3 in each age group and she was 5th. I gave her a great tour of the park since she hadn't been there except to finish the marathon. 

From there, we walked and took the subway to ground zero. This was a great day for New York. The Freedom Tower opened to its first tenant, Conde Nast travel magazine. 

We walked by there as they were building a new spire/canopy over a part of the grounds there. We walked on down to Battery Park and took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island. 

Once again, she had never been there and I've been there many times. Yet not since the hurricane that closed Liberty Island for eight months and Ellis Island for 13 months. We get on the ferry boat and get great views of the New York skyline. It stopped at Liberty Island first. Danie was excited to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty. 

I remember going inside it but since 9-11. 

You have to get a reservation to go inside it now. So we just walked around the Island and took pictures. The Statue of Liberty is a gift from France to Celebrate our Centennial, and it was put on the Island in 1885.  

From there we took the boat to Ellis Island. 

This island has the huge building that all the immigrants went through when they came to America in 1892. It closed in 1952. It was restored in the mid 1980's. 

It sustained huge amounts of damage from the Hurricane Sandy. It's a phenomenal building with the history of people coming to America and pursuing their dream of a better life. 

Outside of the building, there's a rotunda of names on metal plates listing thousands of people who went through this building. An amazing piece of American history and the views of New York are incredible especially with the completed Freedom Tower. 

We took the ferry back to Battery Park. Got on the subway back to the NYAC. Picked up our bags, got back on the subway to Astoria station. Got off there and took the bus to LaGuardia airport and flew home. 

What a fantastic time it was in New York. 

No Place like it on Earth. 

Gotta visit soon and live the dream.

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