Gail and Davie’s New York City Marathon 2015 adventure…

The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up and it was such a privilege to run through such a mix of cultures...

It was Hogmanay 2014 and my husband Davie and I were thinking about the year ahead and what we wanted to achieve. I have taken part in The MoonWalk Scotland three times over the years and thoroughly enjoyed them all. However, since having my daughter in 2008, I had let excuses get in the way of my fitness and hadn’t done as much as I knew I could. So, I decided to push the excuses to the side and to set myself a big goal of running two marathons, Edinburgh and New York, and walking The MoonWalk Scotland in 2015. I enrolled for all three events within the week! The hardest part is enrolling and committing to it.

Once you have booked these events, Walk the Walk help you every step of the way from how to get started with your training, to the logistics of how you will get to and from the events and everything in between. So, my best advice is to pick an event and enrol today!  I firmly believe that if you have a great cause like fund-raising for Walk the Walk behind you, and you share your goals and dreams with your family, they will support you and your positivity and determination rubs off on the rest of the family.  I’ve always walked with Walk the Walk, but I wanted to run the New York Marathon and push my goals a lot further, and Kate and the Team at Walk the Walk supported Davie and I in our goal.

The Edinburgh Marathon and The MoonWalk Scotland quickly came and went, and I was so proud of my achievements to date, but I knew that the big one, the New York Marathon was still on the horizon on 1/11/15. Edinburgh is flat, but New York with the five bridges has several hills and I focused on introducing hill runs.

We set off for New York on Friday 30th October. We were so excited to meet the rest of the team at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square.  On Saturday morning we took part in the 5k Dash to the Finish Line. A fun run through New York finishing at the official Finish Line in Central Park. It was great fun and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great way to start and to get to know the rest of the team.

On the Saturday night we had a pasta party in a lovely restaurant near to the hotel and this was another great chance to get to know the rest of the team.  A few of the women planned to run some of the marathon and the rest of the team were walking. Two of us were celebrating birthdays within the week and Nina and Sally were so kind in bringing us a birthday cake as well as giving us all a Halloween cake.  Many of the restaurants guests were dressed up in the most fabulous costumes and we had a good laugh with them, and a few photos. We all headed home after the dinner to ensure that we got an early night and had our kit laid out for the early rise.

On the morning of the marathon we woke very early; I woke at 2am and was restless until 4.50am when my alarm clock went off.  In the UK the time was 10am, so the time difference really benefits those from the UK, and the early rise felt easier than it would have in the UK! We ate a hearty hot breakfast as advised by Nina, as this was our last hot meal until the end of the marathon. We took a coach to the start line on Staten Island and were glad of the comfortable seats, toilet and the warmth of the bus, while we waited for our time to go to the start line. The time passed very quickly and we had a good chat to others at the start. The security was very good and we felt it was very well organised and we felt very safe. The US police and army had everything in hand.

Davie, Julie and I had a different start time from the rest of the team, but as we were running this worked out well. The start was fantastic, and the cannon went off and New York, New York by Frank Sinatra was played. We had the two mile Verrazano Bridge to start with, uphill then downhill into Brooklyn.  Well!! Brooklyn was absolutely fantastic, as were all of the boroughs of New York.  There were bands playing for us on almost every corner and we were blown away by the crowds who came out to support us so early on in the run. Churches had their choirs out on the steps of the church, dressed in Sunday best and belting out songs to us. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up and it was such a privilege to run through such a mix of cultures, musical styles and to see the support from young and old.  We had our names on our tops and so many people shouted support to Davie and I, which was hugely motivating.  Every borough brought more surprises and I found myself emotional and proud on many parts of the run.  There were water and Gatorade stops at every mile, fruit and sponges were also handed out at a few stops along the way.

The final borough was Manhattan and the adrenaline really kicked in here.  We crossed the final bridge and started to head for Central Park.  We couldn’t believe we still had more hills to face, but again the crowds spurred us on with banners, posters, drinks, hugs, high fives and more positivity than I have ever experienced. The relief as we entered Central Park was incredible.  We knew we still had a short way to go. Davie and I raised our Lion Rampant Scotland Flag and held it aloft the rest of the way.  Again, the crowd lifted us with their support and we ran together hand in hand over the Finish Line with our flag flying behind us.  What a finish! We quietly walked from the Finish Line to be presented with the most amazing finisher’s medals, and we were given the most warm congratulations by the Volunteers at the end. Someone wrapped a space blanket around me and gave me a huge hug, and I was so grateful for that. We were then given our finisher’s bags, water, snacks and then finally the cosiest fleecy cape which was wonderful.

The 1 mile walk from the Finish Line back to the hotel was fabulous. We had run the New York 2015 Marathon and were so proud of each other. What a thrill to have completed something so amazing together.  The next day we met up with the rest of the team for breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a famous diner, where we were sung to by the most amazing singers from Broadway shows.  As it was also my 40th birthday that day I was spoiled with cake and a chorus of Happy Birthday sung by the whole diner! A truly memorable birthday!

Davie and I spent the rest of the time Christmas shopping in New York and walking around seeing the sights. We flew home overnight on the Tuesday night having paid to stay for a fourth night, and it was worth every penny. Huge thanks to Nina and her whole team. What you are doing is changing the world and I am forever grateful for everything that you did to support Davie and I.

With Love and Gratitude,

Gail and Davie McEwan

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