A Stroll in the Park


Over 75 and still running marathons with a broad smile on her face, Sue reviews her New York experience.

November 5th 2017 – 5.00am – New York

Rise, put on marathon kit plus transparent, thick bin liner that I will discard just before the start.  Pack tubs of ready-made porridge and pasta into transparent marathon bag.

Driven by my brother to coach stop just outside hotel in Times Square. Board coach that is full of runners and set off for the Staten Island ferry.  Take ferry, which gives a splendid view of the Statue of Liberty and disembark at Staten Island.  Confronted by a massive crowd of runners queuing for further coaches to take us to Fort Wadsworth, the marathon start area.  We arrive and proceed to our designated “villages.”  My wave starts at 11.00am.  I have 3 hours to wait.  Find the portaloo with the shortest queue and search for best position to shelter and ward off the cold.  Tackle my marathon breakfast of cold pasta and cold porridge.  Put my numbered marathon bag on the appropriate truck.

At 10.00am, drink two cups of black coffee.  Check out my start area. At 10.55am, I am standing at the start, which is absolutely chock-a-block with runners.  An American female sings the Star-Spangled Banner and at 11.00am a loud gun fires and we’re on our way and on to the Verrazano Bridge.  It is 2 miles long and takes us into Brooklyn.  I have a race plan which is to gradually dilute my energy evenly over the 26.2 miles.  Certainly not to squander it by making a fast start.  I dread the idea of “blowing up”.

We run from Staten Island to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan.  We come off the Queensboro Bridge to an enormously loud reception by the New Yorkers.  It is only when we reach the turning from Fifth Avenue to Central Park that I scream with delight.  However, we still have to proceed up and down Dale in Central Park, park exit, continue outside and return to the park via Columbus Circle before we finally finish by the Tavern on the Green.

Finished!  Fantastico!  By now it is dark.  Tin foil cape placed around my shoulders, enormous medal around my neck, goody bag and banana given out.

We walk to trucks where we are reunited with our marathon bags. Long, silent figures move out of the park at the 77th Street exit.  Proceed down Central Park West with loads of other slowly moving caped figures.  I am reunited with my brother and friends at 72nd Street subway.  Managed the steps with difficulty!  Everyone everywhere congratulates us marathoners, most using the phrase “Good Job.”  We were the stars of the day.

Finish time 5:25:56 for 4th in my W75 age group. A personal worst, but who’s worried about that? £513 donation raised towards a local charity.

Sue Lambert has been a member of Serpentine since the 1980s and last year’s New York Marathon was her 65th. She has run both New York and London many times and up to 2 years ago qualified good for age at both events and at other races winning her age group