Member Submission

The Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k in Manhattan

By: Michael Herron

As luck would have it, I had plans to be in New York City during marathon weekend. The New York Road Runners (NYRR) has a 5k on the Saturday before the Sunday marathon, and I managed to sign up for it. This race, the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k, is the New York equivalent of the Chicago 5k that Laurie Reed ran on Columbus Day and wrote about in the November UVRC newsletter. I now have an official NYRR member number, which I will use when I run my next race in New York.

Needless to say, the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k was unlike any 5k in the Upper Valley. There were 11,010 runners in it, which is more than the population of Hanover, my hometown. There was also prize money in the race, which might go a long way to explaining the winning time, 13:24.

The 5k starts in front of the United Nations, which is on the east side of Manhattan. Not only could the runners see the UN, but the number of languages I heard spoken while waiting to start was truly a New York experience. Next to me in my starting corral was a woman with German flag colors painted on her face, and, as many of my friends know, I seize all opportunities to practice German. Here was a good chance, and it turned out the flag woman was from Hannover. I explained to her that I am from Hanover, which I then spelled after getting a quizzical look from her, but she appeared unconvinced (thank goodness I did not have to explain that I also live close to Lebanon!). My German friend seemed to want to practice English with me, so that conversation ended with viel Glück (good luck!) Next to me on my left was another European runner, this one from the Netherlands. She had run the New York marathon a few times but this year was in town to support a friend. She encouraged me not to run the Amsterdam marathon, which she described as sort of boring, but instead to try to get a slot in next year’s New York marathon because the experience is so exciting. Honestly, I would be happy to run in Amsterdam in the future.

The 5k started in waves, and I was in wave E. Even with a wave start, the first quarter mile was on the slow side. My first mile was 8:05, which I found pleasantly surprising given my initial pace. From the UN, the race heads west on 42nd Street to 6th Avenue, and, as I ran the second mile along 42nd, I checked my pace on my Garmin watch. It read 9:00, meaning a 9:00 minute mile. I thought for sure I was running faster than the first mile, so I checked again in 30 seconds. Pace was 10:40. Then, a few seconds later, my watch reported that my pace had suddenly sped up to 7:30. It occurred to me that my watch was confused, which is very evident in the tracing it generated. You can see in the tracing that, from the UN, I ran west along 42nd and then north along 6th. The tracing, however, is quite jagged, which presumably reflects how tall building interfere with GPS signals. The tracing is normal at the point where the race enters Central Park. The turn into the park, which is on 59th, was jammed given the 90 degree turn.

It was a real blast running with a crowd through Central Park, and the finish line of the 5k is the same as the finish line of the marathon (same albeit minus a major difference in leg pain). After we finished, race volunteers handed out refreshments, which included a bag of pretzels. Behind me, I heard some Germans talking about the pretzels and what they were eating, and of course I had to jump into this conversation. For some reason, one woman was interviewing another in German, and then she wanted to interview me as well. My German accent does not fool anyone, but in my experience I apparently sound more like a northern European speaking German than an American. I’ll take it. The interviewer wanted to know what I thought of the course, whether I had run the Berlin marathon, if I liked the pretzels, and so forth.

All in all, this was a great 5k. I met a number of very nice and interesting people, and the race was fun to boot. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I am going to enter the upcoming New York City marathon lottery and see what happens. Ich drücke die Daumen! 😊

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