In the ING New York City Marathon more than two million spectators line the course through the five boroughs of New York City. And they all cheer for YOU, especially if you’re wearing your name across the front of your shirt. Not exaggerating, it’s like being a Rock Star. Imagine having people non-stop for 4+ hours yelling, “Go, Scott!” and “Way to go, Scotty P!” “Lookin’ good, Scott!”
This bein’ not my first time at the rodeo, I was tricked out properly. You saw from older posts how the front of my shirt had my name not only in English, but also in Hebrew, and as a bonus how I put “Oleh Chadash mih’New York” (new immigrant from New York) across the back.
But the Tel Aviv Marathon was so different from the NYC ‘thon in many respects:
1) First, b/c there were so many fewer runners. NYC ‘thon is up to 40,000 runners. I’m not sure how many Tel Aviv ‘thon had, but I didn’t race numbers above 1,000. I have about a 7 minute/km pace (11 min/mile). In the NY ‘thon, there would still be a sea of runners at my same pace. The course would still be full – both of runners and spectators. In Tel Aviv, the course was almost empty of other runners at my pace. It was like I was LAST. I wasn’t, but there were very few runners on the course with my pace. It was like a big deal when I would come upon another runner and overtake him/her.
2) In Tel Aviv, the majority of the course had no spectators, and where people were lining up to cheer, the crowds were…well, they weren’t crowds, they were….individuals.
3) Israelis just didn’t get the “call out your name” thing. It only happened one time the way it’s “supposed to,” as I turned a corner around the 20km mark. Two girls and a guy yelled out together, “Go, Scotty P!” – without an Israeli accent. I’m willing to bet anything they were expat New Yorkers, who had experienced the NYC ‘thon before.
Where I did have a little luck was with the “Oleh Chadash mih’New York” sign on my back. Sometimes faster runners would pass me and say, “Welcome to Israel.” Or, when a spectator(s) was cheering me on, I would turn sideways and point over my shoulder to the sign on my back and sometimes yell the words out to them. Then, the spectator(s) would cheer even louder when they saw that I had left New York at my age to make a new life in Israel and was really participating in life here, as evidenced by running the Tel Aviv ‘thon. That was very cool, pro-Israeli Pride-ish.
The best example of this came around the 14km mark, a few km after I had used that guy’s can in the luxury high rise. There was a whole school of young children out cheering w/ their teachers. I did my thing pointing out the back of my shirt, and one 10-year-old (bless his heart), yelled out excitedly to his friends and pointed to me, “Oleh Chadash m’New York!” like he was showing them something cool. That kid helped make my race.
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