After 210 days of social distant running and virtual races, we finally return to our beloved in-person races. As we arrive in the park, they measure our temperature and they ask all the usual questions that by now we know by heart. "No, I have not had symptoms of COVID." "No, I have not been in contact with anyone with COVID." ... I am here to run... just let me run.
There are no corrals - there is just a small start area, where 50 runners line up every 30 minutes and start their race in pairs every 10 seconds.
Everybody seems happy, many have not seen their running buddies for a while and greet their friends enthusiastically when they recognize them under the mask that everyone is wearing. Someone has not been running much, but sees this race as an opportunity to get back into running.
The course marshals continuously recommend to “stand on the blue spots” and keep safety distance; the speaker at the start line is emotional; the runners try to manage their complex combination of feelings. Many wear a camelback for hydration because there will be no water stations on the course.
I am nervous - I just realize that I have not studied the course and I am not sure there will be someone to follow. "Will I find the course or will I get lost?" My worries disappear after the first turn when I see a NYRR marshal indicating the way. Running with the mask is tough, the air is hot and damp, but the excitement to be here today in a real race has no price. A few supporters cheer happily and we smile. We are happy, we are back racing!
At the arrival there are no crowds, so the photographers can take photos and videos of all runners. We get a goodie bag with a nice NYRR mask and we see our friends waiting to take some photos together. George Hirsch, one of the founders of the New York City Marathon, is there and he agrees to take a photo with us. We chat about Italy with him and then we happily head out to have our deserved breakfast as in the old times. This is racing again!