4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Breaking News: Wave start for the NYC Marathon

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So, as you know, I’m in the New York City Marathon again this year, and training hard for a 4:30 or better time, which would be a first for me!

Today I got the notification from NYRR that they will be introducing wave starts this year.  I, for one, am quite happy!  I think this is great.  The marathon is just too big and crowded for a mass start.  Last year there were two big problems I ran into.

  • First, it took me almost 25 minutes to cross the start – this is unacceptable.  I was in the Green Start, which goes on the lower level of the bridge.  There was construction on the lower level last year, so I guess there was half the normal space through the start.  Wow was it a slow start.  We didn’t move for like 15 minutes after the start and it took 25 minutes to cross the line.  In the mid-early miles, I then got mixed in with all the slow people from the red start that crossed their start line before I did.  I spent a lot of energy passing slow people and weaving in and out of crowds.  I think this is part of the reason why I hit the wall hard by mile 15.
  • Second, at the end of the race, it was mayhem past the finish line trying to get to the baggage checks.  There was a massive mob of people that wanted nothing more than to get their bag and find a place to sit.  However, the massive crowd was not moving because of the narrow roadways and the horrible bag pick-up process.  Could you imaging, finishing the marathon and then getting trampled to death after you’ve crossed the finish line – trust me, it could happen.

A wave start will help solve both these problems.  At the start of the race, there will be about 13,000 people crossing the start in 3 groups, so each group will have about 4000+ people.  There will be 3 waves, each separated by 20 minutes.  This should allow everyone in the wave to cross the start within a few minutes of their horn and prevent faster people from having to weave in and out of the slow people in the early miles.  Also, this should help stagger the finishers to avoid the unbelievable crowd mob that forms past the finish line.

The only problem with this is that the race is going to start a little earlier than in years past.  As a result, they are starting the buses earlier (4am or 4:30 am), and redirecting most people in Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry to get the start – yuch!  Ferry to SI, then board a bus to Fort Wadsworth.  I’d rather get the bus at midtown and have that take me all the way to the start, no “transfer” required.


Written by SCL

August 13, 2008 at 11:09 pm

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  1. […] splits this year at the marathon NYRR had already announced the wave start for the New York City Marathon this year, but now also announced that they will enhance the use of […]

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