With more than 50,000 finishers the New York Marathon is the largest in the world, attracting world-class elite athletes, two million supportive spectators and a worldwide TV audience of more than 315 million people. What started as a straightforward four-lap race around Central Park in 1970 now includes all five boroughs and a glut of diverse neighbourhoods, from Park Slope and Williamsburg in Brooklyn to Long Island City in Queens and the Upper East Side and Harlem in Manhattan. The finish line remains in Central Park though, and as anyone who’s crossed it will tell you – it’s one of those life-defining moments you’ll never forget.
Back in April, we were offered six places in the race by our biggest technology supplier and NYC Marathon sponsor TCS and in no time at all, 85 of our people had put themselves forward to be considered. In return for 50% of sponsorship going to our charity partner WE.org and following checks by the TCS Marathon Board for physical fitness and running experience, the following team was put together.
- Jane Barr, Executive Office
- Jeremy Probets, Crew Logistics
- Julia Ferrari, Flight Operations
- Paul McCarney, Technical Operations
- Max Hamilton, Business Systems
- Nic Whittaker,Business Systems.
Here Max and Nic answer a couple of questions about the day
Describe the atmosphere and the start
Nic and Max: On Sunday 6 November at 5.00 am, as a beautiful day was dawning in Manhattan, we were collected from our hotel to head for the start, along with all members of the TCS Running Team. As we motored through the streets of Manhattan, our bus was flanked by a NYPD escort and we felt very important.
When we arrived, we were shown to the TCS Hospitality Tent. Conscious that we would need to take on as many calories as possible, we feasted on a delicious breakfast of bananas, bagels and butties, surrounded by other nervous runners, all sporting tin foil!
As we warmed up in brilliant sunshine, we could clearly see the Manhattan skyline. It was both high and in the far distance, and it hit home just how far we had to run.
In order to manage the 51,000 runners, we were despatched in waves, starting first with the elite athletes and disabled team at 9.45 am. As we waited at the start, the nervous energy of the waiting runners was both electric and exhilarating. At 10.15 am, it was our turn, and we set off in the second wave for the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge. Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” boomed over loud speakers and the ships on the river doused us with water cannon as we passed.
What was the route like?
Nic: The route took us through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. We took the first 17 miles of our journey in our stride, when we suddenly found ourselves on a gruelling, six mile incline to 23 miles, which pushed us to the limit. At one point, a dog walker was dragged by 30 dogs (well, nearly 30!) into the path of the runners and almost knocked Nic over!”
So, what happened next?
Max: Nic dodged the dogs! He was the first of the Virgin Atlantic team to make it across the line in Central Park in an incredible 3 hours 57 mins.
Nic: … closely followed by Jeremy at a very impressive 4 hours and 5 mins and then Max with hugely respectable 4 hours 16 mins.
Max: After the race, we went to a Reception for the TCS runners. Most of us struggled to eat or drink so soon after the race, but we rounded off the day with drinks in a pub across the road from the hotel (ie. within limping distance), where we re-hydrated with family and friends and made some great friends with our VAA team members, many of whom we had never met before.”
So what was the highlight for you?
Nic: Crossing the line ….. and the extremes of the five districts that we ran through.”
Max: Crossing the line, the great organisation, the police escort and the VAA team.”
And how much sponsorship did you raise?
Nic: Between us, we have raised a total of £7000. The money was shared between six great charities; 50% to our charity partner WE.org and the remaining 50% split between Bloodwise (for Leukaemia and Lymphoma), The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, CHANCE for Nepal, The Melanesian Mission, The MS society and the Baby Snow Fairy Fund.
So do you think you could do it again in another location?”
Max: Err, yes, but maybe ask us we are a bit less sore next year!”
A massive congratulations to our team on this fantastic achievement. If you want to find out more about the TCS New York Marathon visit their website here.