Hi everyone, the real reason I came to New York was to run the TCS New York Marathon held last Sunday, 1st November. I managed to run in the race through purchasing a tour package with Athletes Journey, a Singapore-based tour company specialising in major marathon tours. This option was terrific for those like me who do not have exceptionally good race timings like sub-3 hours but still want to experience a major marathon. Purchasing through Athletes Journey was also a very smart move. Not only are they the only authorised NYC Marathon tour operator in Singapore but David and Sven from AJ are themselves experienced marathoners. They were always ready to provide advice for the race or marathons in general through their own experience. A lot of their advice proved to be invaluable during the race which I will elaborate in a separate post on race recap.
Terribly superstitious, I never mentioned the race on the blog before the big day for fear of jinxing the run. Fortunately everything went smoothly and I achieved a timing of 4:30:57. Just 57 seconds slower than my target time of 4:30. *Phew*
The whole process of signing up, prepping, landing in New York City, picking up my race bib, the race itself, and post-race was a huge experience unworthy of just one post. In this post alone, here is what went down during the race bib collection.
Unlike races in Singapore, in America, picking up of one’s race pack is known as “number/ packet pick-up.” This was to be done IN PERSON. No authorisation form allowing some family or friend on their behalf. The runner themselves have to pick up the race bib at the Health and Wellness Expo held from Thursday 29th October to Saturday 31st October 2015. This itself was an effort.
The expo was held at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Hall 3B, Eleventh Avenue at West 36th Street. Our tour package included accommodation at Courtyard Marriott in Midtown West 54th street. Even though there were shuttle buses provided (yes, just for the expo), David suggested we walk instead. The day before he had to wait a full hour for the shuttle bus. Transportation reliability is not New York’s strongest suit. The 20+ blocks walk was GREAT! On Friday morning, while still suffering from jet-lag, the walk and cool crisp air perked me up measurably.
When we reached the expo, it looked to be the size of Suntec City Convention Centre Hall 1, 2, and 3. The place was buzzing!
First order of business upon arrival (besides being all crazy tourist and taking a million photos of the big banner outside) was to pick up our precious race bib. After you dough out a lot of money for the race, the race bib is your everything. You guard the damn piece of paper with your life until the very very end when you collect the post-race poncho. You lose your race bib, the race is as good as over for you before it begins. Over 50,000 runners participated in the race. Note, there is only one distance for this race so 50k+ people ran 42km… Despite the expected turnout, the event could not have been better organised. We just went to our number designated booths.
If you have signed up for Dash to the Fonish Line 5k race on Saturday morning collect bib here too!
Then pick up your marathon t-shirt in accordance of size. Note in Singapore, the shirt will usually be placed in our race packs. Not for the New York marathon. There is a whole area designated for it. There are sample sizes in the centre of the area for one to try one. The shirt is a thin long-sleeved shirt. Instead of wearing it during the race, a lot of runners chose to wear it the day after the race and walk around New York wearing it. There isn’t a complimentary finisher shirt, unlike Singapore – you have to buy one. So this long sleeved shirt is as good as your finishers shirt. After you collect your t-shirt, loads of photo opportunities provided too. Here is me trying to be onz with my race bib that I spent the rest of my day checking my bag ensuring it was there. I chose size S and could still be worn over three layers including a cashmere sweater.
Then we moved on to the third and largest section of the expo. Also the best part of the expo: SHOPPING!!! There were over 100 vendors and exhibitors so get your wallet ready or be prepared to exercise some serious self-control. Also… The marathon has an app just for the race. There is a feature for the expo. One could check beforehand for the vendors and respective locations.
For the NYC Marathon, ASICS is the official sportswear company so they got the biggest space of the expo – about half of the vast space. ASICS really milked it. There were “special” NYC marathon 2015 merchandise for everything: shoes, clothes, gloves, and socks. Seriously everything related to sportswear, ASICS put the NYC Marathon logo and charged a premium price. ASICS definitely made a lot of money last weekend. I saw some Chinese buy by the baskets. During the race, I saw quite a few Asics gloves on the route – what a waste. We were told last year, in one weekend alone, the vendors collectively made US$600 million in sales. The Americans do a very good job in making one spend. I got only one thing from ASICS, the specially-designed for NYC Marathon Nimbus 17 shoes. It was the only thing I needed. After the marathon I can’t use my present Nimbus 17 for long distancing running anymore. So there, for US$168:
Several other vendors included Gu. Gels here were going for USD1 each. What a great deal! I got seven packets. But I regret not getting a box. They are so much cheaper than getting in Singapore! Plus they have so many flavours not seen in Singapore like Salted Watermelon, The Big Apple, and Maple Bacon. I tried all during the race but quite frankly don’t remember the tastes. I was too focused on ensuring I didn’t hit the wall.
These very pretty headbands were going for UsD15 each. No thank you.
One of the best features of the expo was a seminar held by two experienced marathoners on the race route. NYC Marathon is not known to be an easy race. 5 boroughs, 5 bridges. Plus killer hills at the end. They went through mile by mile of the entire 26.2 route. This was extremely helpful and I felt ready to tackle the marathon two days after.
Next up, race recap!! The way in which the city came out for the marathon was unforgettable.