1977 New York City Marathon

This was the occasion of the second New York City Marathon held through the city’s five boroughs. I was in the middle of a cross-country motor trip and currently stationed in Tacoma, Washington. This trip was scheduled to last a year, or at least until I was seriously broke. I made a call back home and found that I’d been offered a plane ticket back to Boston for the first Freedom Trail Road Race. My Massachusetts friends had a connection at New Balance and promised to get me some work while I was back. They also requested that I stick around for a few weeks and compete in the National 15k Road Championship in Manchester, N.H. after I ran the Freedom Trail race.

I was excited about the possibility of returning home, but didn’t want to abandon my traveling companions. They assured me everything was okay and I justified the trip interuption, reminding myself of the possibility of earning some funds while working back in Boston. My GBTC mates Randy Thomas, Vin Fleming and Dan Dillon had an apartment in Cleveland Circle where I could stay. My day job with New Balance would be hanging insulation in the ceiling of the factory; on Saturdays I worked in the outlet store.

Back in Boston my training went well, and I started getting on the track, which I had not done for a couple of months. In the next few weeks I established a good routine. I saved a tidy sum of money and did well in my races. I resisted the partying atmosphere as much as possible (but still had a good time). I also talked with several people about job possibilities when I returned from my trip – not exactly career-track jobs, but jobs that would allow me to run and survive.

I would be returning to Tacoma on October 29th via Tulsa OK. where I was to compete in the National 20k road race. But first there would be the weekend in NYC. A group from New Balance were heading down to work a “shoe show” and participate or spectate at the marathon. I hesitated not wanting to spend my hard earned nest egg which I could use for my continuing cross country trip. I went.

I got a ride down to the Big Apple in the back of a VW Beetle and finished off a six-pack before we crossed the state line. We made a pit stop at the shoe show and headed to the hotel. There commenced an evening of epic drunken debauchery. One GBTC mate who’d been training better than ever and had “gone on the wagon” to prepare for the race fell off big-time and tried to eat his race number as a kind of pre-race ritual.

Some of us had planned to do a long run by running the first 18 miles of the course; by cutting from the 18-mile mark over to Central Park, we still expected to catch the finish. When I awoke face-down on the floor the next morning and saw the time, I thought we’d never make the start. We got dressed and headed out to find a cab (the buses to the start had all left). We tried several times to stop a cab; surprisingly, no one would take us to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. We were about to give up and went into a coffee shop and grabbed some joe to go. While inside, we talked a cabbie into taking us, promising him a bonus if he could get us there in time for the start. We flew through the city streets, hot coffee flying everywhere. We made it.

The excitement and adrenalin of being there got us through. At one point in the run, I stopped to tie my shoe, and a Hasidic Jew shouted out to me, “What is the meaning of all this running?” I patted my stomach and told him I was trying to lose weight. He said, “How much have you lost?” New Yorkers were just becoming aware of this event.

We cut off the course at First Avenue (where an official accused us of trying to cheat) and we made it in time to see the finish.

The weekend was exciting and fun, but the dowside was that I had spent my entire nest egg, my justification for interupting my trip in the first place. Another lesson learned? Maybe…