Reflections on the TCS New York City Marathon, by Carolyn Mather, Running Journal

We asked long time Running Journal columnist Carolyn Mather to give us her thoughts on the TCS Marathon, two weeks after the event. Here is what she had to say: 

The battle is on! Jemima Sumgong and Mary Keitany, photo by
Reflections on the TCS New York City Marathon

  In the two weeks since the running of the marathon I have given much thought to the events and have reflected on the happenings of the week. It was an exciting time and one of heartbreak for our sport.

  The positive drug test on Chicago Marathon and World Majors Marathon Champion Rita Jeptoo took some of the glamour away from the week. It was the premiere focus of the press and the running world and was not the way to start the week.

  The news left everyone wondering what would happen to the World Marathon Championship ceremony and what was being done. Furthermore, it raised suspicion about other athletes in the Rosa training camp who happened to be to competing in New York. Fortunately there seemed to be little distress among the athletes with the news. Many voiced wanting more stringent measures to catch drug cheats. Paula Radcliffe,  the marathon world record holder voiced her displeasure to me and said she hopes to be very active in an anti-doping campaign after she ends her career. She was very passionate about getting our sport clean.

  So the news on another high profile athlete testing positive got the ball rolling once again to find a better, more effective way to deter this problem. So it was probably a good thing that the news came when the world was focused on the world's biggest marathon stage.

  The women's race was truly a race of the stars. It was so windy that the women seemed hesitant to make any early moves. We got to see tactical racing then a couple of very decisive moves. I laughed when Desi Linden said she was running with the pack when she became uncomfortable. I told her that the pace quickened by 20 seconds a mile and she grinned and said "well that did it". I am proud of her for working her way back into fifth place after losing some ground. I believe she will be there taking the top spot one day in the near future.

  I marvel that any two women can throw in a 5:11 and a 5:12 mile late in the race. I saw Mary Keitany throw off her arm warmers at mile 19 when the hard racing began. She laid down the gauntlet and let her competitors know she was back!! Until that point she remained tucked in the back of the back. Her racing intellect has matured and she apparently stuck to a plan.

  It is amazing that under such difficult conditions that the ladies not only ran negative splits but ran incredibly good times for NYC. The men's times were considerably slower than the usual times. I have no idea what that means!!

  With the number of finishers at an all time high I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of marathoners. I wandered outside of the press center at Tavern on the Green about four hours into the race and watched the runners celebrate their last two tenths of a mile of their journey through the five boroughs. Couples, groups of friends and runners of all types and in all manner of attire celebrated reaching that magic finish line. The sun was shining on them.

  Everyone running the marathon had a goal and nearly 100% got it done. I admit that I have thought about that magic, dedication and triumph over the elements for the past two weeks. Mother Nature had no hold on these warriors. They entered the battle and won.

  The next day I covered about 15 miles of the course on foot and there were almost no remnants of the race. The streets were clean, the trash was gone and only a few sticky gel packets remained on the course. The blue line remained but was fading. Thousands of pounds of clothing was left at the start for the needy of NYC. The marathon gives back as much as it takes. The streets of the marathon on Tuesday were trashier than the day after the race. The marathon cleans up the city and provides for those who might need more warm clothes for the winter. I must admit I never thought about how much the marathon gives back.

  And to those who conquered the beast many wore their medals on the subway to work. I saw one man bicycling in his suit to work over the Pulaski Bridge with his medal proudly displayed around his neck. Medals appear to be the badge of honor after the marathon.

  Although the wind apparently caused massive problems with television coverage and the commentary from Paula Radcliffe and Toni Reavis, the TCS NYC Marathon  appears to have been a success. Marathoners are tough and resilient. There were changes with the new sponsor but all in all I believe NYC retains it's big city reputation.

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