New York City Marathon nostalgia

In the first week of November I become nostalgic for the New York City Marathon. I have a rather intimate relationship with this event; it’s been a huge part of my life.

In 1986 I was working part-time for a travel agency and they asked me to bring a group of Italians to New York. The runners arrived at the airport in track suits and told me that I just had to bring them to an expo to pick up their bib numbers; they’d take care of the rest themselves. Easy!

Little did I know that trip would change the course of my life. I fell in love with marathoning as I watched the runners run past me at Central Park. I vowed to do it myself. And I did, four years later.

1990 - I don't remember any of these people!
1990 – I don’t remember any of these people!

I don’t have a lot of photos from those first years because I’d only take a few shots with an Instamatic. There was no finish photographer or chip timing back then. But they did send a lovely postcard to congratulate you on your finish.

Sent by snail mail a month later...
Sent by snail mail a month later…

I’ve run NYCM ten times, always going there for work and then running the marathon. I’ve seen the marathon numbers grow, directors change and running become a household activity.

I ran in 1991 and brought some friends that I’d convinced to take up running.

Hamming it up for the camera with my good friend Maurizio Izzo - ran many races with this guy!
Hamming it up for the camera with my good friend Maurizio Izzo – ran many races with this guy!

I ran one of my best marathons in 1998 but they still weren’t using chip timing or GPS devices. I’m pretty sure I lost a few minutes at the NON wave start…

Official time 3:52:31 but I remember my Seiko watch reading 3:50:34 – should have taken a Polaroid of it!

1998 also predates the digital era so they’d send you an actual proof of your photo arrival and you’d have to decide if you wanted the print from it. Please notice that I drew an arrow to myself…

In 1999 Piero and I brought our families with us to visit New York during Marathon week. I didn’t run that year because I was injured (severe anemia) but we went to the start and brought our very first digital camera with us.

Elite start, 1999

In 2004 one of Piero’s athlete’s Ottavio Andriani was running the race (he came in tenth). Piero and I decided ,”Hey, let’s get married!”. We’d already been together for many years plus had children so it seemed like a good decision.

It only took 24 hours from start to finish; a lot easier than all the bureaucratic BS we’d have had to deal with in Italy.

Hey, anniversary is in ten days!
Hey, anniversary is in ten days!

The other great thing about going to New York is the expo. Not only can you geek out on running products but you get to meet all your friends too.

My son Evan being held by Bart Yasso of Runner's World
My son Evan being held by my friend Bart Yasso of Runner’s World


With my friend Kathrine Switzer at a sponsor party in 2011
With my friend Kathrine Switzer at a sponsor party in 2011

This year I’ve trained 27 athletes for NYCM. I’ll be following them online and I’ll know where they are on the course every 3 miles. I love technology! I know that I’ll be doing it with a wisp of nostalgia in my heart. Maybe next year?

Enjoying the course on First Avenue
  1. Philippa
    What a wonderful post Julia....I hope I'll be one of the NYC marathoners you'll be cheering on (or running with) one day! Particularly love your wedding story xx
  2. Julia
    Philippa - I also hope you get to experience it, such a party! PS - just edited my post. Made a typo mistake in that first year I was 1986 and not 1996 - gah! So long ago!
  3. Anne
    Such a lovely series of photos Julia. Now I want to run the NYC marathon too! I would be so happy if they sent me one of these postcards.