NYC Marathon 2009: Pro Highlights, Freaks and Geeks, Caffeinated Jerky and Lessons Learned.

My buddy Fred Dreier reached out to me after hooking up with Competitor Magazine offering for us to film the ING New York City Marathon for them. It was a long day, but it was really incredible seeing 40,000 runners and what felt like all of New York cheering them on.

I handled the filming, mostly, and Fred put on his competitive running journalist hat, corralling the pros at the end of the race. As members of the “mixed media” we were placed in a tiny box after the finish line, where various sweaty, limping and dazed athletes wearing space blankets were shuttled over to us by public relations people. I can’t imagine ever wanting to be interviewed or even being able to put together intelligible, coherent thoughts after running 26.2 miles, but the finishers were more than accommodating to our pestering immediately after the race.

Here’s the highlight video of the pro race that we put together:
[blip.tv ?posts_id=2833752&dest=-1]
I think Fred has a future in broadcast.

It was quite a weekend of adventure and forgetful “lesson-learning” on my part.

At Columbia, I’ve found that most of the really pivotal “learning” that I do always, without fail, happens the hard way.

Exhibit A: The beginning of Fred and my marathon coverage adventure began with an 8 a.m. wake-up on Saturday followed by a rain-and-sweat-soaked bike sprint with a video camera on my back to the Fifth Avenue Niketown where Lance Armstrong was in town to do a PR fun run with the public in Central Park. We were to film it, and, if possible, score a interview with Lance. We arrived just minutes before the start. I was still wiping the sleep from eyes and Fred’s night of Halloween celebrations left him in no better state. We quickly chained our bikes and set about weeding our way through the two hundred-strong group of runners, many of them adorned in Lance’s iconic Livestrong yellow. I put the camera bag down and quickly took to setting up as Lance and the group was about to take off momentarily.

I picked up the camera, shuffled through the bag to get my battery. I Kept shuffling. I unzipped the side pockets, rifled through. Nothing.

No batteries.

Dejected, I walked across the street to Fred.

“There’s no batteries in the case,” I said.

You could almost hear him deflating. The early-morning bleariness confused him enough that he tried ponder ways around it, but it was clear that we weren’t going to film Lance without batteries for the camera.

Thankfully, Fred was in good spirits. The guy doesn’t get down over much. He’s had three bikes stolen and his apartment ransacked since moving to NYC, but I don’t think it’s possible to sway him.

In my defense, the equipment room’s standard procedure for checking out video cameras is to equip the student with a set of two batteries. In their defense, I most certainly should have double-checked for batteries myself.

Will I ever check out a camera with out making sure I have batteries again? Nope.

LESSON LEARNED.

Exhibit B: This episode of my forgetfulness was far less detrimental, but very similar in that it involved an early-morning bike sprint. This time, it was Sunday (race day), and I met Fred at Central Park near the 90th street entrance before we were to ride the Queensboro Bridge. As I rode up to him, I saw his shiny white press pass dangling from his neck. Which reminded me that I had forgotten mine at my apartment on 109th and Broadway. I was already running a bit late, but this was the NYC marathon. There was no just holding a camera and hoping that makes you official enough. I had to go back and get my credentials.

I gave Fred the camera, sprinted back home, got my pass and sped off to the Bridge. Luckily, since most of Madison Avenue was completely devoid of cars because of the race, I had the surreal opportunity of bombing down an empty New York City Avenue completely uninhibited.

I got there with plenty of time. We filmed the crowds, the women’s lead pack and the men’s lead pack as the came off the bridge into Manhattan at the sixteenth mile. They were incredible athletes. It was like they were running at a full sprint for 26.2 miles. The winner, Meb Keflezighi’s average miles splits were under five minutes.

So will I ever not give myself adequate time in the morning before I have to go cover an assignment again? And, will I ever leave the house without doing a thorough mental check to assure I have everything I need?

Probably, yes. Probably, over and over again. I just love sleep.

But I will get better at this.

LESSON (kind of) LEARNED.

While our main objective was to cover the more competitive side of the Marathon, the event itself was largely dominated by the lighter side of things. The crowds were absolutely nuts and the only thing crazier was the characters actually running the race. Fred edited together a piece about the freaks and geeks of the NYC marathon.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2833764&dest=-1]
The whole atmosphere reminded me of my Iceman racing days. Professional athletes + thousands of crazy yahoos (mainly the Clydesdale crowd) = a really good time.

As for Perky Jerky, Yes, it’s real. People come up with the craziest things. Take a look here.

You can see our videos on the competitor.com Web site as well as some additional interviews we shot with marathon all-star Paula Radcliffe on her disappointing performance, Desiree Ficker on her choice to run the marathon and triathlete Peter Reid.

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