Old Town Albuquerque is a historic location, and a charming place to start and finish a marathon. People have asked if I’m able to see anything during the tour, or if we’re passing through too quickly? The great thing with all of the marathon courses is that they’re staged in some of the most historic and scenic parts of the city, so you essentially get to spend 26.2 miles viewing the sites.
Along with the local New Mexico runners, folks today had come in from Colorado, Utah, and California. There were four first-time marathoners in the group, one of which was just seventeen, and two who had not originally intended on running the entire distance. A number of runners had upcoming marathons they were preparing for, and ran a half-marathon training run with us. We had a Team in Training Coach with us today (Go Team!), and a runner celebrating her 40th birthday (her husband had sprung this trip and run on her as a surprise present).
We started off from Old Town to the cheers of the crowd. The early part of the course followed the road, and we had police escorts directing traffic and holding intersections closed as we ran through. Eventually the course entered a path that paralleled the Rio Grande, which we followed for a long stretch. After exiting the path, the course crossed over historic Route 66 (I guess we were getting our kicks in our own sort of way).
At the midway point, two of the half-marathoners decided to take a crack at the complete marathon and continued on with us. The birthday girl was only going to run the half, but when we got to the midpoint she decided to go 20 miles instead (and at the 20 mile mark, she decided to go the entire way).
Temperatures started to warm on the return loop, and the sun began peeking through the clouds. The group just kept powering along, running, talking, drinking and eating, seemingly impervious to the mounting warmth. We finished back in Old Town to an enthusiastic crowd gathered to welcome us in.
So many of the runners came up to me afterward and said this was their most enjoyable marathon ever. Many of them were seasoned veterans, and had run marathons all over the world. There’s something about this format (i.e., running a certified marathon course with a small group in a fun and relaxed setting) that holds a certain magic. I must say myself that while I’ve been enjoying the big “live” marathons on the weekends, I’m liking the recreated events much more. The spirit and bond developed between the runners is stronger, and the camaraderie is unsurpassed.
The other magical element is watching these first time marathoners coming in, and seeing the joy in their eyes. The entire group rallies behind them, and we all share in their elation and sense of triumphas they burst across the finish line. It’s incredibly inspiring to witness this and feel that you are a part of something bigger.
So I’d like to thank all the wonderful runners today for making me feel welcomed, and allowing me to be part of something bigger.
Heading down Route 66,
P.S. For those of you that have been asking about my cold, it’s still hanging on. Actually, I think it’s a new cold now. With all the different climates I’ve been in, and all the people I’ve met along the way, I’m sure I’ve been exposed to lots of bugs during the past 22 days. But I’m not going to let a head cold stop me. My body still feels solid, and I’m actually feeling stronger with each progressive day. I’ll continue using all the great remedies you’ve been passing my way, and hopefully I’ll shake this thing soon. But if not, I’ll still keep going to the best of my ability, albeit a bit nasally.