Running For the World

5th November 2007

Relaxing with my tyre (picture by David Tay)
Learning Tree

Time moves so quickly and here I am running the NYC marathon with the intention of pulling yet another tyre.  Note: Flights to and from New York were offset by Planktos

In fact since 10kg was too light the last time I ran, I went and added 8 more kilos into the package (I really don't know what I was thinking).  Hence hauled at least 18 kilos in total.  Also decided to wear the Asics Kayanos, having run only once with them.  Thankfully they were fine throughout the duration of the marathon.

I prepared my box with words to hopefully encourage and inspire folks and companies to take action towards sustainability and the environment. One life to make it count towards a future world.

For 2 days prior, I have been eating.  Wanting to make sure I had enough carbohydrates for the run, to ensure that I did not hit the wall again.

So with nearly 39,000 others, we waited for the start time (arrived at 6 am for a 10:10 am start).  The wait was cold. I waited at the back and did not pass the start line until about 30 minutes later.  However the sun did come out and there was talk about the temperatures hitting 57 degrees F, unfortunately for me, no rain was predicted.  Going to be a hard slog at the end.

To the start line and Mile 1: Marathon Trash

Nathanial Vinton reports my views in the
New York Times

Had to negotiate my way through clothing, plastic bags, and water bottles strewn on the floor.  However, having to go over the Verrazano Bridge, warmed up parts pretty quick.  So I dumped my jumper (or long sleeved pull over) in my box in case I got colder later.  Was interviewed by the Nathaniel Vinton from the New York Times, who was reporting on the trash left behind. Decided not to release all my political views on how businesses need to be wholly involved in the sustainability of our environment and that the US needed to be more committed to environmental concerns due to their high consumption (has been indicated as 40% of the world's resources) and high waste (approx only 30% of their trash is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills).  Although I did ask him why there was a lack of recycle bins in New York.  Walking through the boroughs, I did not see any.

Solar garden lamp on the back
Flower windmill on the front.....
and the environment will smell a sweeter place

As I left Nathaniel, my flower windmill spun off but was fortunately caught by Nathaniel......and in my box of tricks I carried masking tape to fix it back on.  I dumped my water bottle in my box on top of my jumper, as well as removed my long pants at the same time and decided to tie this round my waist.

Mile 1-3: Police Escort

The bridge was long, but comfortable.  I was privileged to have a police car escort drive behind me.  It meant I could yell out that I was looking after his spare tyre.  I wondered if he would continue all the way but he left me between mile 3 and 4.

Mile 4-6: Food and water

One lady spectator yells at me to take the stupid tyre off and run the race.  I smile politely and pretend I'm foreign - which I am! "Save the world, consume less and recycle more. New York needs more recycle bins!"  One mad woman talking to another and then an "ahh" moment.......crowd cheers and one kid runs by me and yells "There should be more people like you in the marathon".

Was offered donuts but rejected it and later will wish I had taken the box.   Some lads approached me and asked me what I was doing, I decided to show them tyre aerobics.  Must have had too much energy at the time.  At the same time, pulled out my water bottle from my box.  The cap had not been closed securely and had leaked out all over my jumper.  Oh well "cold is nothing"!

Mile 7-13: Cheering and dancing

The mess after the runners

Going through Brooklyn was a lot of fun.  Even though time was now passing and I was with the back of the pack, people were still out on the streets cheering. 

Within these miles, the part of the road the drink stations were located, were littered with drink cups and other sections with tissue.  Drink stations were shutting down.  Now the only supporters were the guys driving the pickup trucks and the volunteers.  It was great to hear them say "You can do it", "You're going good".  The rest of the time, I'd have to imagine the crowds and the cheering that everyone told me about prior to the race.

(Many thanks to Adrian Kinloch who sent me my first photo going through Brooklyn when my camera's memory card could not be read.  See his blog here)

Mile 14-15: Hell's Bridge

Everything was going well and I talked to Mary Kohlmann from the Columbia Spectator.  She left me about a hundred metres from the start of the Queensboro Bridge (my mile of hell).  The terrain was tough.  The horizontal grooves in the concrete created greater friction. Great for winter conditions to reduce accidents. Bad for someone trying to drag a tyre.  Every step sucked energy from my legs.  I struggled........An aid runner (helping a one legged person to complete the marathon) passes me with "This bridge must be a real drag"; my response "Yes it is TYRE-some"

The bridge seemed to go on forever.  My target time of 7-8 hours was slipping by. I'm hungry....and part of an energy bar was eaten.  I wished I had taken a couple of donuts and stashed them away for now.  Thankfully Mary came back with a photographer, and walked and talked with me.  It was great to be distracted from the heaving I was having to do to get up the bridge.

Mile 16-17: Twilight comes

The bridge had sapped me, and now the NYPD police were making me walk on the pavement as the cleaning process was well under way.  Not as bad as the bridge terrain, but not as good as the tarmac.  Having to lift the tyre up onto the pavements (sidewalks) and over cables eats away at energy.  I wanted to be back on the road and when the walkers in front returned back onto the road, so did I.

Mile 18-20: UFO

Took out my reflector jacket, and my solar lamp had automatically lit up.  I felt I was now a safe vehicle to continue on the road.  The police cars, cleaning trucks, and equipment trucks would hopefully see me.....or a strange UFO on the road.  Roads had now been opened and the last runners had to wait for lights to change before crossing.  However the NYPD were always really encouraging for the last sets of runners.  I find a caffeine bean in my pocket (sample from the expo) and chew on that.

On the streets were banana peels, and I think how lucky the front folk were.  Later there are orange peels.......I drag my tyre over all of these.

Mile 21-22: Food glorious food

I am hungry.  Someone asks me what I am doing, as he eats some chips.....I pause wanting to ask him for a chip but in the end just tell him what I am doing.

I search into my pockets and eat all the wine gums, a pack of jelly beans and mouth feels gross. I want something salty! 

Mile 23-25: Confused home coming

Going into the park, was quiet.  No one was around; no NYPD to guide my route to the end.  I followed one Korean fellow competitor and eventually overtook him and later had to ask the one set of passer bys where the marathon route was.  Eventually saw the 24 mile marker and started to jog.

Mile 26-to the Finish Line

There were still a couple of supporters.  I was amazed, but could only manage to run the last 50 metres.  I was just so happy to see the end that I forgot to look at my time....all I wanted was food......something hot and spicy. 

Thank you to Divey, B, David, Roentgen, C, and Kendall for waiting for me to eat!

Photo finish can be viewed here.

(I will post photos as I source them out!....or perhaps my friend will be able to retrieve them from my memory card)