In Central Park, Queens or along the Hudson on Sunday, Paul, Jack, Angela and the others will run “their” New York Marathon, despite the official race being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There was no question of missing this meeting. As in 2012, when hundreds of people gathered in Central Park to run anyway, despite the cancellation following the passage of Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s like a spell,” explains Paul Casiño, who has traveled the 42,195 km on New York asphalt every year since 2004. “If I stop, I’ll regret it. “
Originally scheduled for Sunday, the New York Marathon was officially canceled as of June 24, but the organizers offered, like many other major marathons, to cover the queen distance between October 17 and November 1 anywhere in the world.
A smartphone application measures the distance run and formalizes the marathon with, as a result, the famous medal usually held out at the finish.
Months of confinement, no other race on the program, preparation was disrupted to say the least. When it was not the coronavirus that struck directly, as for Matt Coneybeare.
After two days of acute symptoms in early April, this computer engineer only took a month to become the runner he was again.
“It was like a goal”
He already ran his New York marathon, in just over 3 hours, a few days ago, passing through four of the five major neighborhoods of the city, with the exception of Staten Island, inaccessible under normal conditions. The majestic Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which tens of thousands of competitors cross each year from Staten Island to Brooklyn soon after the start, does not have a pedestrian crossing.
Paul Casiño keeps his skilfully crafted itinerary in Manhattan a secret, a tribute, seen from the sky, to the most famous marathon in the world.
“I can’t just do four laps” of Central Park, explains the 50-year-old banker. “It’s mentally exhausting” and “it’s not fun”.
Scalded by the Covid-19, he no longer ran for two months following confinement, he who sometimes travels more than 120 km per week during the preparation period.
He thinks it was this sudden stop and the confinement that got him depression, which he says he got out of thanks to therapy, but also the resumption of exercise.
In the distance, he caught a glimpse of the marathon again. “It was like a goal. “
Many like Matt Coneybeare say that running regularly during this crazy year has kept them “sane”.
New York “in the skin”
Weighted down by almost 7 extra kilos, which he also puts on the account of the pandemic, Paul Casiño has not set a time target, because he will be hampered by fires and cars.
Anyway, “no one is going to compare the time of a virtual race with that of a real race,” adds Matt Coneybeare.
Long-distance running is always a date with oneself. Without an audience, without a competitor, in the midst of the coronavirus era where it is better to avoid others than to mingle with them, this will be the case more than ever.
“It will be different, but less stressful,” predicts Jack Hirschowitz, a 75-year-old psychotherapist, relieved of some pressure from running.
Paradoxically, it will also be easier for him to move forward, he who runs systematically while juggling three balls and has only limited visibility. Usually mixed up with tens of thousands of competitors, “I have to avoid people and sometimes I get stuck behind a group”.
With his balls, Jack is often very popular with the many New York marathon audiences, one of the most enthusiastic in the world.
For many of these New Yorkers, running the marathon this year is more than ever a declaration of love for this now battered city.
“I have this city under my skin,” says Matt Coneybeare, who has no doubts that New York will rebound. “So I’m going to stay here. “
“Even though I’ve done it thousands of times, running in this city is still a unique adventure. I love. “