Monday, November 05, 2007

New York Snickers

Congratulations to Paula Radcliffe on winning the New York Snickers, or as it was formerly known, the New York Marathon.

We watched the leaders race past the 18-mile marker on First Avenue, and you really have to witness at close quarters the likes of Radcliffe and the men's elite competitors, to appreciate just how unbelievable these marathon runners are. The pace they achieve is truly astounding.

And to think she did it just ten months after giving birth. It gives a shining example to all post-natal women not least my own wife, who still gets out of breath just doing the hoovering.

I really do think that Radcliffe is a most underrated national treasure. My admiration for her would have been complete if only she had fallen in love with, and married a man called Mr. Hamstring. Not since Tiger Woods, would world sport have had a more appropriately named icon.

Reading the Daily Mail's website (as I tend to do, thanks to a morbid fascination with middle England), it was heartwarming to read the comments, not least William J.'s of Plymouth:

"Amazing what she can do for money. Pity she couldn't do it in the Olympics when she was merely representing her country."

Touching, but rest assured William J., most of our other fine English sportsmen have little interest in the financial side of their endeavours.

New York is a wonderful city to go running in all year round, not just on marathon day. The organisers of today's race (New York Road Runners), also set up tens of races all year round, most of them taking place in Central Park, and all of them wonderfully organised and aimed squarely at the amateur runner (of whom thousands take part each time). There are many things I'd miss about New York if I leave here, but this would firmly be one of them.

However all the prior races are overshadowed of course by today's race, and approximately ten hours after watching Paula race past, we witnessed a touching moment which reminded me why I think marathons bring out the best in a city.

As we strolled through the gloom of Central Park on our way back from some friends, we could see in the distance some hubbub and flash bulbs. Straining our eyes to work out what the fuss was about, a uniformed steward informed us the lone runner was the last official finisher in the race. "Big deal", I thought, "...a bit embarrassing isn't it?," but then I saw his crutches, and then I saw he had no legs.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

I used to do a lot of road running until my knees gave out. Now its twice a week on the treadmill (kinder to the knees)at 7.5 miles an hour for 3 to 4 miles and I think that's fast but the top marathon runners are averaging 11 to 12 miles an hour-unbelievable


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