Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club
MHRRC Home  Recent  Humor  Information  Boston Marathon  NYRRC Races  Other Races  By Friends
Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

The 2005 NYC Marathon and Tips on Spotting Runners

by Bob Kopac

To be spectators at the 2005 NYC Marathon, Lynne and I caught the 9:30 AM Metro North train from Poughkeepsie. Yes, we had slept in; last year we had gotten up at 4:15 AM for Lynne to run the race, so we were catching up on our sleep. We arrived behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 11:30 AM, where we found what I hoped would be a perfect place in Central Park to avoid the previous year's problems.

Last year I was at Mile 25 next to a course photographer as Paula Radcliffe and Susan Chepkemei approached our position. Just as we were about to take the perfect photographs, a rotund spectator suddenly jumped onto the course with a Ph.D. camera (Push here Dummy) to take a snapshot (not a photograph, mind you) and blocked our line of fire. The course photographer screamed, and I cursed, to no avail. I wildly swung my telephoto lens to photograph the runners close up as they passed us. The resulting photograph was a wild swirl of color and motion-very psychedelic.

I wanted to avoid that situation, so I chose a spot on the outside of a curve at a guardrail with a policeman stationed nearby, where no spectator would jump out onto the course. There was only one problem. We had told our friends to look for us behind the Met on the west side of the road. However, our position was on the east side.

I figured I would photograph wheelchair athlete April Coughlin (formerly of New Paltz, NY and now living in NYC) and photograph the lead female and male runners. We then would move to the west side of the course.

The best laid plans... We never saw April. When I later looked up April's finishing time of 2:29:27, I realized we missed her by 10 minutes. When the lead runners appeared, I had to contend with worse obstacles than a rotund spectator. The photographers' truck, the TV camera vehicle and a phalanx of police motorcycles shielded the runners. I was able to sneak in a shot of Jelena Prokopcuka and Susan Chepkemei, who appeared to be a synchronized running team.

Lynne then left our location to scout the west side of the course, only to discover that by then people were lined up 10 deep. Our only recourse was to remain on the east side and scrutinize each runner. Do you know how difficult it is to spot a specific bib number among 37,000 runners? Fuhgeddaboudit, unless you want to practice for an eye exam.

We finally realized we had missed Pat DeHaven, Bob Dinsmore and John Farrow, so we gave up and went over to First Avenue to see Carol Hubbard. We missed Carol, but we saw several women runners wearing feather boas and colorful bras-not sports bras, but regular bras. I asked one runner why, and she said they were part of a British group raising money for breast cancer.

We walked back to Mile 25 in Central Park, and we finally saw one of our runners! Lynne said she almost did not see Carol because Carol had said she would be wearing blue shorts, but she was wearing navy blue shorts. Being a Guy, I asked, "Is there a difference?" Apparently there is. (I report it. I don't explain it.) At dinner that evening, Annemieke Farrow said women recognize more shades of color than men do. That explains why Guys cannot sort laundry.

Pat DeHaven later said he had worn black shorts, a gray tank top, and a white hat. I don't see how we could have missed him! He also said, "I thought you thought you were going to be on the LEFT. So all through the museum and beyond I looked for you and wondered, where are Bob and Lynne?"

Pat's mistake should have corrected my mistake, and yet we still had not seen each other. That is when I decided to create the following tips for NYC marathoners to help them be seen more easily by spectators.

After the race, John Farrow told us he had seen a spectator walking a turtle on a leash-only in New York! I wondered if the Pooper-Scooper Law applied to turtles. Carol Hubbard said she saw one female spectator who was nearly naked. That is when I realized I had chosen the wrong location on the course.