New York, New York

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS - JOHN Z. PAGES john@pages.ph

Seven morn­ings ago, my wife Jas­min and I joined thou­sands of oth­ers in Staten Is­land as a loud “BOOM!” erupted, sig­nal­ing the start of the earth’s big­gest 42K race: the New York City Marathon. Then, Frank Si­na­tra’s “New York, New York” song blasted over the loud speak­ers. Our hearts trem­bled, legs shuf­fled, arms raised.

By day’s end, there would be 52,812 of us who tra­versed the 42.195 km. dis­tance — a world record for the most num­ber of marathon fin­ish­ers.

From Staten Is­land, we climbed the 4.1-km.long Ver­raz­zano-Nar­rows Bridge, de­scend­ing into Brook­lyn. Af­ter a dozen or so miles, we dis­em­barked in Queens, alighted in Man­hat­tan, passed through the Bronx be­fore fin­ish­ing in Cen­tral Park. In all, the NYC Marathon guided us along all of New York City’s five bor­oughs.

The crowd and cheer­ing were in­cred­i­ble. Imag­ine 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple com­ing out of their apart­ments to line the streets with posters that read, “You Run Bet­ter Than Our Govt. and Trump!” Chil­dren car­ried plac­ards with signs that said, “Tap Here For Power!” Dozens of live bands scat­tered the route. Beer over­flowed as par­ty­go­ers high-fived us. Run­ners donned cos­tumes, some with chicken-head at­tire and oth­ers dressed as Cap­tain Amer­ica. One marathoner was an am­putee, painfully car­ry­ing one leg in front of the other.

Jas­min and I snapped dozens of pho­tos and videos along the way. One pic­ture was with Mon­signor Robert Ritchie. The day be­fore, Fr. Bob cel­e­brated the 5:30 p.m. mass at St. Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral where he re­quested all marathon­ers to go to the al­tar for a spe­cial bless­ing that had many of us teary-eyed.

My wife Jas­min’s rel­a­tives — the Gi­rado fam­ily — waited at Km. 26 with blown-up posters of our faces to cheer us on.

The NYC Marathon was more than a 42-km. race on our New Bal­ance sneak­ers. It was a re­union of run­ners meet­ing fam­ily mem­bers. Of or­di­nary folks in­spir­ing oth­ers of their de­ter­mi­na­tion to run a crazy-long-dis­tance.

It was a city tour; an ex­cur­sion not by sub­way or bus — but by God’s man­made legs. As the roads were closed, we trekked path­ways that would never be open to foot traf­fic ex­cept for ev­ery first Sun­day of Novem­ber.

From Cebu, we were joined by two other dis­tin­guished marathon­ers. Amale Men­de­zona Jop­son is a two-time Bos­ton Marathon fin­isher. Amale fin­ished the NYC Marathon last Sun­day in a speedy 3 hours and 54 min­utes. The other Ce­buano was Gif­ford Per­ral, whose NYC ex­pe­di­tion was his 22nd marathon race.

The weather last Nov. 4 was per­fect. It rained for two straight days be­fore the race and for two con­sec­u­tive days af­ter — but not on race day, when the sun shone brightly and the skies were light blue and the tem­per­a­ture a cool 12C de­grees.

Jas­min and I fin­ished the 42K in six hours and 48 min­utes. We had a good time. And by “good time,” I don’t mean a fast, good time; but “good time,” mean­ing we had a fas­ci­nat­ing hus­ban­dand-wife bond­ing ses­sion tour­ing Amer­ica’s big­gest city — a run­ning ex­pe­ri­ence that we will for­ever cher­ish.

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