I Drank New York City Marathon Today

NYC Marathon 2014 women 1   I went to watch the New York City Marathon run today, here in Brooklyn. It was an incredible experience. It was perhaps after two or three years when I got to be a part of the crowd again. And again, I felt the same excitement. I felt like I was in the middle of a massive, youthful, vibrant crowd — people who are celebrating life, and celebrating health and happiness. And it didn’t matter that I was not running, but I was only watching. It did not matter that it was very cold and very windy, and my fingers were freezing up quickly taking the pictures. Marathon has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I remember when I was growing up in Calcutta, my father first took me to a late night movie where they were showing a documentary on the Tokyo Olympics. Perhaps it was 1966 or so, and I was only a small kid. But I still remember how that film gave me goosebumps. The long jump and high jump, the pole vault and the hurdle race, the sprint and the middle distance runs, the javelin and discus, and then, finally, before the games came to close, they had the marathon down the streets of Tokyo. BikilaAbebe Bikila, the legendary barefooted runner outpaced everyone, and became the champion. The fact that he was from Ethiopia, and not from USA or then USSR, and the fact that he was running twenty-six miles barefooted was something special to remember. I remember for the first time in my life, I saw how support staff for the runners set up streetside tables to serve water and juice to the thousands of athletes running by. They whisked those paper cups, drank some, and threw the cups away. Today, after being in the United States for over twenty-five years, and watching many such events, it has become all too familiar. But back in those days, growing up in North Calcutta with nothing, it was something to remember through months and years. Childhood years want to use even smallest things to be awed about, and feel excited about. NYC Marathon 2014 1 Yet, after so many years being in America, and going through so many exciting, global events, marathon runs somehow bring back the same kind of awe and excitement for me. And today, it was no different. The patrolling police cars with their sirens, the hovering helicopters, the streetside crowd’s cheer, bells and whistles, and then the first pack of world-famous runners — first women and then men about half an hour apart — just incredible. Seeing those famous runners — most from Kenya, Ethiopia, smattered with a few American, European, Mexican and Chinese or Korean faces, blitzing by in just a few seconds in a closely packed, very strong flight of legs — their special sneakers making a subtle pattering noise on the asphalt street…and then they are gone. You see them disappear down the street, escorted by time-tracker trucks and police cars, and they are gone. Mary KeitanyWilson Kipsang of Kenya. Mary Keitany of Kenya. There he is! There she is! Wow! Wow! And then slowly comes first a dozen of professional runners, followed by hundreds, and then thousands, and thousands, and thousands of young men and women, and some not-so-young men and women, running down the street — in the midst of continuous cheering of onlookers, friends, relatives, family members — some with signs with the runners’ names, and some with flags of their countries. An ongoing, oncoming traffic or healthy, strong, determined, upright, happy, proud men and women, from all over the world. It is truly, truly a celebration of life. And I am in the midst of it — absorbing every single second of it. And rubbing the awe and inspiration and life on me, and my soul. Drinking it all — bottoms up. Thank you, New York, and thank you, America, for showing me this side of you. Here’s to heart, happiness, and health. Here’s to life. ### NYC Marathon 2014 2

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