Lessons from Mile Marker 11

Bright and early this morning, my 8-year-old son and I walked over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn for our annual NYC Marathon ritual.

This fall rite involves hot chocolate for him and a cappuccino for me as we stake our positions in a patch of sunlight near the 11th mile marker.

If we time it right, we get to watch all of the top runners go by.  But we’re really there for the excitement of the elite wheelchair race.

In the early hours the sidewalks are pretty deserted, so we’re among the few at that stretch to cheer them on.  We try to learn a bit about them in advance:  Krige Schabort was a soldier in the South African army when a bomb explosion took his legs.  Two years later, he began to race wheelchairs.  Tatyana McFadden was born with spina bifida and left at a Russian orphanage as a baby.  She was adopted by an American family who introduced her to sports.

You don’t have to have a child with you to be reminded of the lessons on Marathon Day.  The importance of showing up for other people – especially when it’s early and cold and no one else is there.  How all of the racers – not only those in wheelchairs – have some personal challenge to overcome, making them heroes of their own journeys.

When our hands were numb from clapping and our throats were scratchy from all our boisterous encouragement, we walked back over the bridge towards home.

Watching the finish results on-line, we were left with few more ideas to ponder together, not the least of which can be the ick factor of marketing (bullet #3) …

  • The favored wheelchair racer, Kurt Fearnley of Australia, snapped the steering mechanism on his chair and came in second to Masazumi Soejima of Japan.  “In the end that’s racing. Some days it goes your way and other days it goes the other way.”
  • Geoffrey Mutai, the male winner and course record setter:  “I try at the last minute to push it a little more. We all worked together – and then it was time to push it. For me, I was trying to run my own race.
  • Meb Keflezighi, the sixth-place overall winner:  “I felt strong going into it, training at high altitudes in my SKECHERS GOrun racing shoes, which definitely made a positive impact on my running. I’ve been a heel strike runner my entire life, but SKECHERS’ mid-foot strike technology has helped me adjust my stride to be more efficient.”

Signing off now to put on our own somewhat ratty sneakers & to enjoy this beautiful NY afternoon!


Ps – I should mention that my son took all of these pictures — except the one of himself!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Lessons from Mile Marker 11”

  1. noel says:

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks again for your insight, humor, and poetic reflections on life. We were racing around Brooklyn and Manhattan trying to get a few moments of cheering for our friend in the race yesterday. What an amazing day! The race is so uplifting, so moving. Runners and spectators just shine their best selves. Inspirational!
    Hope we see you all soon, here or there.

  2. Barbara says:

    Great to see you here, Noel! Yes – I get very misty-eyed when I watch the race. I can’t imagine doing it myself (my knees hurt just thinking about it), but it really doesn’t matter as long as I can plug into that amazing scene of humanity every year. I’m so glad you got to experience it firsthand too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *