THE STORY OF NEW YORKMARATHONDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2008
The alarm went at 4.30! I put my pre-arranged kit, jeans and fleecies on, and checked the temperature out of the window on a nearby skyscraper……5 degrees Celsius. After a bowl of Alpen and a banana and some good wishes from Cheryl and Ruby, I headed down the 27 floors in the lift. This would be a different day!
I walked south on 10th Avefrom 52nd Streetin the dark and got to the Travel Inn on 42nd Street. Already Marathon Coaches were heading forStaten Island. In the lobby there were about 10 English firefighters, with each lift bringing more.from in the dark and got to the Travel Inn on .Already Marathon Coaches were heading forStaten Island.In the lobby there were about 10 English firefighters, with each lift bringing more.from in the dark and got to the Travel Inn on .Already Marathon Coaches were heading forStaten Island.In the lobby there were about 10 English firefighters, with each lift bringing more.
Danielle, my niece arrived, cheery as ever. Being her Uncle I had to check she had everything. She didn’t have her kit bag for her clothes so rushed upstairs. Meanwhile downstairs we were all being checked as present. Danielle returned in a panic coz she couldn’t get her key to work so she and I rushed back to her room with a different key, found the bag and got in the lift ….only to be confronted with 2 firefighters telling us we needed wristbands. As we haven’t got them we really are panicking now especially as the organizers have already left and we have to run up the street to catch them. Cathy the organizer confirmed that we don’t actually need them. Phew! We continue in the almost certain knowledge that we have everything.
We arrive at the Park Central Hotel. It is fully populated on two floors by New York Police (NYPD) and Fire Dept guys and gals. The testosterone level is set at max! Eventually we are pointed to a bus. We climb aboard and our convoy of 15 to 20 buses then hurtles through the street of New York with a full police escort blocking roads and green lights. We are an impressive sight!
We drive over theVerrazanoStraitBridge, which we will soon be running over. We note the wind will be in our faces. The disabled competitors have already started and are running, wheeling and walking. The firefighters wave to them all. Some of these competitors take 24 hours to complete and receive police escorts after the course has been packed away.
The start area is like a small town divided into different coloured starts. Danielle and I are green, leaving (reputedly) at 10.00am. We are in Corral E at the back and take 20 mins just to get to the start. At the side of the road are heaps of sweaters and hats which have been cast off as the athletes warm up. These 40,000 tops, hats and gloves are collected and given to the homeless.
We’re off! Unfortunately we run on the lower level of theVerrazanoBridgewhich is as big as theGolden GateBridgein California, but the wind is bitter cold so we try to run away from the open side. Another good reason for doing this is because the runners on the upper bridge urinate over the side, more golden showers thanGolden Gate!
We cross intoBrooklyn2 miles in and crowds at last, not big but at least some people are appreciating our folly. The crowds get bigger and we drift to the right of and benefit from the shouts of “go John” “go Danny” and “John your looking good” I wanted to record the latter and play it back to myself in front of the mirror! The kids in particular were putting their hands up for “high fives” which we duly oblige. Some of the adults did this a bit too enthusiastically almost knocking me over!
At 3-4 miles I drift in front of Danielle and it is difficult to run together, so I tell her I might “drift off”. For the next mile I think I have left her but when I look back she is still with me. After another mile she is gone. The crowds are now big and noisy as we climb Clinton Hill in downtownBrooklyn.
At halfway I look at my stopwatch which reads 1 hour and 43 mins. I realize that this doubled (after some considerable time!) is 3 hours and 26 mins. I now wonder if I can get in under 3 hours and 30 mins. This would be a great achievement as my best time was 3.36, over 4 years ago. However 2 years ago I ran the London Marathon faster in the second half. So it could be possible.
We crossed our 2nd bridge intoQueensand at mile15. Bob Dylan “like a Rollin Stone blasts out with a lyric about traveling home, we have less to run than we have already so we are coming home! We crossedQueenboroughBridgeontoManhattanIsland. Huge crowds,10 deep. I did my aeroplane impression at a wide corner to much enthusiasm from the crowd! We then run up first Avefrom 58th Street. I had arranged to meet the family at 68th under a West Ham Utd flag, but the first person I saw was Cheryl giving a right royal cheer to all the runners. No one saw me so I stood in front of them and they nearly jumped out of their skins.from .I had arranged to meet the family at 68 under a West Ham Utd flag, but the first person I saw was Cheryl giving a right royal cheer to all the runners.No one saw me so I stood in front of them and they nearly jumped out of their skins.from .I had arranged to meet the family at 68 under a West Ham Utd flag, but the first person I saw was Cheryl giving a right royal cheer to all the runners.No one saw me so I stood in front of them and they nearly jumped out of their skins.
I saw Cheryl, Ruby, Finn, Lauren (niece), Trina (Sis in Law), Jean (cousin
in NY) and friends, Tony and Mina, and stopped for sweaty kisses. Brother
Vin was late! I push on and ran a good pace up 1st Aveeventually at 126th Avewe cross the 4th bridge onto theBronx. Some Rap players welcome us. We have music all along from heavy rock, to bagpipes to record scratching. Off theBronxand over the 5th and final bridge and down 5th Ave. I was pushing hard as I had heard thatCentral Parkwas hilly so I thought I could make up time on the flat avenues although at mile 23 the end seemed an eternity away! My enthusiasm for high fives was waning but I managed to keep smiling at the crowd.
We turned intoCentral Parkand sure enough it was all uphill so miles
24 and 25 were hard. One man shouted with real American gusto “go John you’ve got it in the bag!” It didn’t feel like that but I appreciated his optimism. I was obviously slowing but towards 26 I was running as hard as I could as I only had about 7 to 8 minutes left if I wanted to make my time. As I past 26 miles I cursed the royal family for insisting on extending the Marathon an extra 0.2 mile so they could see the 1908 Marathon from the castle inWindsorGreatPark. Now it was me and the line. Sod the high fives. Actually I did acknowledge cheerers, but through pained smiles. At last I saw the line I could see my time I was over 3.30 but I was ran to make sure I was not 3.31 and my official time was recorded as 3hours,30minutes and 38 seconds.
I was bloody delighted!
I walked towards a lady who gave me my medal and I got a photographer to take a picture of me. Another man gave me my goody bag and a third wrapped me in a baco foil cloak. I drifted forward with the rest of the silent baco foil army; content, exhausted without energy to think. I found the UPS van which had my kit bag and hobbled into my clothes.
I found Danielle’s UPS van and an equally exhausted person. Danielle had run 3.49, a fantastic debut. She was too tired even to untie her laces so I had to the uncle thing and oblige.
We wandered down 8th Aveand met Danielle’s mum and sister, Cheryl and co and there were tears that my brother Eamonn wasn’t with us to see his daughter’s great achievement. But we were here because of him and therefore he was there in many ways.and met Danielle’s mum and sister, Cheryl and co and there were tears that my brother Eamonn wasn’t with us to see his daughter’s great achievement.But we were here because of him and therefore he was there in many ways.and met Danielle’s mum and sister, Cheryl and co and there were tears that my brother Eamonn wasn’t with us to see his daughter’s great achievement.But we were here because of him and therefore he was there in many ways.
We all wandered back to our apartment to eat pizza and drink coffee. Now the marathon was truly in the bag!
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Why you should support the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund
Every year, thousands of fire fighters are injured whilst protecting the public. Every 30 seconds in the , fire fighters are called to an incident, putting their lives on the line, and often sustaining physical injuries whilst carrying out their duties. The Fire Fighters Charity is here for fire fighters during their times of need, and assists over 13,500 individuals every year, by providing pioneering treatment and support services.
The modern, dynamic and award-winning charity has three centres, located in , Devon andWest Sussex, which offer varying combinations of therapy and recuperation services. The pioneering new Beneficiary Support Services also offer local and remote assistance to people in need nationwide.
It costs over £9 million every year to keep the Charity running, and with no government funding, the charity is completely reliant upon donations from the general public and fire community.
The FSBNF is a charity which helps those who help others.
Why I support the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund
For almost 20 years my brother Eamonn was a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade. Tragically he died of heart failure in 2005. My brother was a person who always wanted to help, whether it be in his role as a firefighter or in activities outside of the Brigade. He also knew that firefighters look after one another and had told his wife, Trina, that if there was ever a crisis that he was not around to help with, his colleagues in the Fire Service would, in the words of the Carol King song, “come running”. When Eamonn died in the small hours of a January morning, Trina called Eamonn’s Senior Officer from the hospital and he was there within an hour.
From the time of his death until now the Fire Brigade, and particularly the FSBNF, have supported his wife and daughters.. At his funeral the London Fire Brigade sent two fire tenders and his fellow firemen numbered literally hundreds. The formally uniformed firemen lined the High Street up toBeckenhamChurch. The knowledge that so many firemen cared about Eamonn in the Brigade was a great comfort to my family.
The FSNBF has continued to support the family, helping support them emotionally and financially. They have advised Trina on the financial issues relating to his pension and Eamonn’s twin daughters, Lauren and Danielle, have been assisted their university fees.
Earlier this year Danielle wanted to pay back some of that support by running the London Marathon, Unfortunately the FSBNF had no places left, but called Danielle back to ask if she would like to run the New York Marathon instead. Coincidently she was staying with us that day and asked our advice. We, of course, thought it a once in a lifetime experience and encouraged her. At this point, Cheryl, my partner suggested that I run the marathon with Danielle. Thinking it was unlikely that they would allow two Meehans to run, I agreed. Next day I got a phone message from Danielle saying “Uncle John I’m running the New YorkMarathon…………………and so are you!!!”
Eamonn came to see me run the London Marathon in 2004 and was the first person I thought about when I crossed theMarathonline in 2006. He will be with us in spirit in 2008.
How you can support the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund
If you would like to sponsor myMarathonrun you can either;
1) Go on my “Just Giving “ website. This is probably easier for me and possibly also for you! The address is………..
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Either way it will be a fantastic help to the work of the fund and will help other firefighters families cope with loss or injury.
Thank you very much