The Marathon

After posting previously the first part, The Expo, I am getting to the second and final part—to the race itself. I didn’t want to miss the start of the New Jersey marathon the following day. I left the house quarter to seven pedaling on a borrowed bike as fast as I could to Long Branch. That bike was short for my 6 feet. Nevertheless, I reached the start line 15 minutes before the gun. Runners were still coming from all directions. This was one of those runner friendly events allowing the participants to arrive 10 minutes before the start and get a desired starting position in the field.

 

The wheelchair division started shortly before 8 o’clock. Following the start heading North, there was about 400 m long straight stretch. One side of the stretch was a paved road and the side that was closer to the ocean was a raised sidewalk. The stretch ended by a 90° turn. The wheelchair riders who opted for the sidewalk were in trouble, as the ramp off the sidewalk was not marked and was narrow. Some riders had to jump off the rather high sidewalk. One woman got stuck, could not move forward nor back. She got help and I started directing other riders to the ramp. One would think that the organizers would think about designating a volunteer at that critical spot.

After the 4:30 pacer with his group of runners past me, I jumped on my bike and started moving to my next location. The course was spectator friendly, meaning that the spectators could watch the participants sprinting off the start line, move 2 short blocks inland and watch the runners at mile 9 again when they emerged from Oceanport. Then, they could move back and see the finishers at the arrival. After the mile 9, the course took direction South alongside the coast up to the mile 19 which was the turning point. The remaining distance was in the opposite direction North, back to Long Branch.

I biked in the downtown area towards Deal, observing the course and stopped at the half marathon mark. The leading runner reached it in 1:12. I guessed he would finish around 2:29 due to head wind when coming back the last 7 miles. Later, my guess got confirmed. He finished in 2:28:43. At the half point, the field really got stretched. It took 10 minutes for the 5th overall runner there. I jumped on the bike and followed the front runners while also paying attention to the road surface. It was very uneven at places. The organizers either marked the critical areas or put cones to them. At the mile 19, there was a concrete car stop block across the path. This was my last stop on the marathon course. I continued South back to Spring Lake.

Although the race went through residential areas, there were not many people alongside the course. It hasn’t been the season yet. The front runners up to 3:05 ran lonely most of the second half of the marathon. The temperature was favorable, sunny, high 50s with breeze. The New Jersey marathon is definitely a race I would consider running in some upcoming year. I think, with all the detours, I biked total of 45 miles in 2 days and I felt it in my legs. I have never biked such a distance.