The weekend of November 2nd through November 5th a select group of Sport Management students, including myself, were taken to New York City to assist in the implementation of the 46th TCS NYC Marathon. The group was led by Cortland student Alexandra Proulx, and the 30 other students and two professors arrived by bus to NYC on Thursday night. We were lucky enough to stay in the Manhattan at Times Square while working throughout the weekend.
On Friday, around 11:00 AM, the heavy lifting began. As a group, we set up barricades along both sides of a Central Park road near the race’s finish line for the Opening Ceremony. We then alphabetically attached country signs along the fences, leaving enough room for the number of people from each country participating in the Parade of Nations, and distributed the correlating number of small flags as well as one large flag. Our large group was split up to help with many other areas around 4:00 PM. Myself and a few others were helping people find their country’s sign, make sure the countries were distinguishable between each other, and ensure that everyone knew the run down of the Parade of Nations. The parade began at 5:30 PM starting with the charity groups that donated towards the race. Following the charities were NYC running clubs, professional runners, and wheelchair athletes who all continued the parade through the finish line and down the road. Next came the 120 countries that had a representative of their country running in the marathon on that Sunday.
Each country had to follow closely behind the one in front of them to ensure no blank space left on camera, as this event was live. Considering this event was live, it is a good thing that Delaney Smith notified someone that the People’s Republic of China was listed under R instead of P, and that Katelyn Kovacs noticed that Liberia and Libya were out of order as they were nearing the finish line. Overall, the Opening Ceremony was much more successful than the previous year and as all the participants were mingling in front of the seating areas, a firework went off. Peter Ciaccia, the President of the TCS New York City Marathon, then came out to take pictures and ring the gong to signify the official start to the race weekend. After the crowd began to settle down we encouraged everyone back to the areas they started to return their flags and receive participation pins. After this, we were all done until the next morning.
On Saturday, half of us helped with the set up and break down of the 5k, while the other half unloaded 51,000 ponchos for racers the next day. At 4:00 AM my group had to be on 1st Avenue, in front of the United Nations Plaza in order to begin setting up the starting line for the 5k. We dressed the barricades in sponsor’s logos, created corrals, labeled A through L, helped organize racers and check in other volunteers, and provide food and drink service to VIP members. After the start of the race, the breakdown of the starting line was very quick and easy, and we were done at around 11:00 AM.
From 11:00 AM-3:00 PM we had the day to do whatever we wanted, most of us took a nap. At 3:00 PM we were asked to help with the pasta dinner. The pasta dinner is the last big weekend event before the actual race. All of the marathon runners are welcome to have a big pasta dinner and chat with other runners. After the cleanup of the pasta dinner we were off the hook again until the next morning.
On Sunday, each of us were strategically placed around the cool down area of the runners, between the finish line and a mile and a half away, where the ponchos were. This area is called the dead zone because of the serious injuries that occur once a person is done running a marathon. Because no human body is made to run 26.2 miles, the adrenaline of the runner is through the roof when they see the finish line. Once their adrenaline begins to wear off, about a half a mile after they finish, serious health issues begin to set in such as heart attack, vomiting, fainting, fatigued/spazzing muscles, and many others. Our help in this area is vital. We were posted on stands that looked similar to lifeguard stands. The people on stands had a list of directions and encouraging phrases to say to runners as they neared that point in the cool down. Some of mine were “Keep moving forward for your poncho!”, “Don’t stop moving and stay hydrated!”, and “Congratulations runners! You just finished a marathon!!” In times like what the runners were going through, those encouraging words really helped them get to the end. We also had a medical/emergency phone number available for if had to call in the case of an emergency. For example, some guy lost his entire toe nail and continued to walk the cool down and someone’s leg muscles were spazzing so much he lost his balance and was unable to walk. There were Red Cross personnel throughout the cooldown as well, which was very helpful.
My favorite event that we got to assist with was the Opening Ceremony. Being so close to live television and being held responsible for the success of what millions of people would be watching on their TVs was a rush of excitement. Seeing so many different people and cultures so close together and enjoying every second of it was something I would love to experience again.
Altogether, the entire weekend was incredible. It kept me on my toes and always wondering what was going to come next. Working a mega event, such as the New York City Marathon, from the Opening Ceremony to the finish line of the actual marathon, was an experience I will carry with me in all my future endeavors. This experience helped me solidify my interest in the industry and I cannot thank the New York Road Runners enough for that. Without their kindness, patience, and helpful nature throughout the weekend, who knows what kind of experience I would have had.