"But they said there'd be a tent!" "Sarah, there is a tent. See? The half-open white thing over there with the coffee in it?"
I thought I'd be set. This year, I was ready. I brought a comforter, towels, throw-aways, lots of warm gear that I'd check. And NYRR had clearly stated that there would be a tent, unlike last year, when I spent the hours before the race huddled over my legs, shivering convulsively through the scattered rain. The thought of the tent had given me courage when I heard about the downgrade in weather conditions for the wait and the start. (and yes, I did just say downgrade: not everyone loves a high of 45 and crosswinds for a race, much less the 3+ hour wait!)
But there wasn't really a tent, more like an enclosure for the coffee and energy stuff they were giving away. So me and my compatriots hiked over to the lean-to and huddled up between a table and a trash can.
But we had the comforter. And we had bathrooms. The bathrooms were the highlight of the local elite waiting area last year. Me and my nervous bladder could visit the facilities as much as we wanted, with no wait! And this year, it started out the same. In fact, I appeared to be the first to have used this bathroom since it had been sanitized, an experience I've never had before! Quite luxurious for being in a field with 40,000 plus people with too much coffee in their systems!
The coffee wasn't Duncan Donuts and we had no bagels, or hats, but you could sneak off into the other sections to get those. And most of us, it appeared, already had developed neuroses about what we eat before a race, as evidenced by the strange assortment of food I saw being consumed while we waited.
But, nearing the time when we had to be in our corrals, the fact that they seemed to have let a lot more people into the local competitive area raised its ugly head. There were massive lines for the rest rooms. And none in the corrals. You can imagine what might have ensued.
The start is fantastic. And makes it totally worth it, still. To be able to start the NY marathon and run your first mile in something like your intended pace, without having to weave too horribly much, is awesome. But the rest isn't so grand. It is still less crowded than the other areas but, for me, crowd means more warmth. And you can always tune out the chattering person next to you. I know: I have been the person tuned out before! But I think they should either let less people in (even knowing that I might not be let in, as a result), or put up more bathrooms. Because the bathrooms were the only other major draw. Plus, there is something insincere about labeling a location as 'local elite' and then having almost everyone around you be from out of state. I know that 'local elite' could also just signify that the people in this area are people who might win or place in local races, and not signify the runners who might win or place in smaller NY races. But in a city like New York, where more races are run by people to whom you can't even relate because they run so fast you might question whether they are really human, where there are so many people that one can feel isolated and separated from the others in the city, it seems important to have a place to recognize the mere humans who have jobs and other priorities, who run like mere mortals but who give a more human, approachable, and community face to running in the five boroughs.
Off my soapbox, now. The bathrooms are still pretty darn groovy. And the start.