Sunday November 3rd 2013 was a good day to be a South African – no, make that an African – in New York!
There’ll be a more detailed account of Marathon Sunday, my first in the city that’s become my second home, to follow. But for now, let me just say that it’s been a two-year-in-the-making person goal to “run this town”, literally (thank you Jay-Z and Rihanna), and so crossing that finish line, and covering the 26.2 mile course, was an amazing feeling. Even if the feeling in my right knee had almost left me completely by the time I did so…
To know I was running along a course that’s been developed over a 43-year history gave me a boost, but I was also flying on the wind of those ahead – the elite runners, the wheelchair and hand-cycle participants. South Africa had some great victories – paralympian Ernst Van Dyk won second place in the Wheelchair division (he’s won a record 9 times at the Boston Marathon!), and 31-year-old (my age!) Lusapho April from the Eastern Cape took third place in the Men’s Elite. He’d been hoping for a number one spot, but that went to Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai, 32, who won the men’s race in 2:08:24. Mutai broke the course record in New York two years ago, then the 2012 race never happened because of the destruction from Superstorm Sandy. He went in as the favourite and kept his honour.
With Lusapho April
A fellow Kenyan won the Women’s Elite – Priscah Jeptoo came from behind to score her sweet victory. In the Hand-cycle division, two South Africans ended in the top 60 competitors, Abrahaam Mouton and Don Oliver, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on Friday, together with April, at the South African Consulate. It was seeing photojournalist Joao Silva finish the Hand-cycle a year after he lost both his legs in Afghanistan that left me utterly inspired by what can be done with sheer hard work and determination. I still remain in awe.
New York’s a tough town to run, but when you do, the rewards can be so oh-so sweet. Especially when you finish very close to your goal time at 3:51!