This past weekend I was reminded why New York City truly is the greatest city on earth. I had the pleasure of taking part in the 2013 New York City Marathon that takes runners through all 5 Burroughs. I got to run alongside a record 50,000 + people that included a few friends and Raffy.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and even though it was tough I enjoyed every step of the 26.2 miles. Running some of the most famous streets in the world was surreal as they were lined with people 5 deep on either side. It was honestly felt I was like running through a movie scene for a few hours.
The people on NYC take so much pride in their city and even more so in their own neighborhoods. From the richest parts of 5th Avenue to the mean streets of Atlantic Avenue - the people of NYC came out to cheer on the marathoners in droves.
I always run with headphones as I find it helps me get lost in the music while being free along a route. This was different. Although I created a killer play list that included tons of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Beatles I didn't even press play once. There's so much music at each block from gospel choirs, high school bands, local cover bands to DJs and more.
Here are some songs that will be forever burned into my brain and why.
The marathon starts in Staten Island at the bottom the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Staten Island is sometimes the forgotten Burrough but it's home to Wu Tang. I love Wu Tang but will always think of the following 2 songs as this is what was playing over loud speakers when that cannon went off last Sunday morning to start the race.
Frank Sinatra - 'New York, New York'
The Rolling Stones - 'Start Me Up'
Brooklyn is MASSIVE. The bridge from Staten Island brings you right into this world class Burrough which is so diverse and wonderful. It winds through some of the most beautiful streets that remind you of Sesame Street and other TV shows. From the hoods to the hipsters Brooklyn encompasses majority of this foot race and shows it's true colours and character at every block. There were lots of choirs and bands in this part of the run - but I will forever be thankful for those DJs spinning the tracks I wanted to hear as I passed through. Here are a couple of beauties and I'm so glad they are this obvious.
Notorious B.I.G. - 'Juicy'
Beastie Boys - 'No Sleep Till Brooklyn'
You're not in Queens for all that long - but the when you are it's the hardest part of that run in my opinion. Climbing the Queensboro Bridge seemed like it would never end. There's also no crowd on the bridge and so the silence is deafening. All you hear are foot steps and heavy breathing. Before you hit that bridge there are many restaurants and bars playing music from speakers outside their establishments. There's also people playing music from their apartment windows. That's where I heard this beauty...
Run DMC featuring Jason Nevins - 'It's Like That'
I will however always think of The Ramones - 'Rockaway Beach' when it comes to Queens NY. Far Rockaway is a sliver of land on the Atlantic which was destroyed by last year's Hurricane Sandy. Raffy and her friend where supposed to run this marathon last year - but once they cancelled it we decided to head out to the Rockaways and volunteer in the hurricane relief. That place was a mess and form an already impoverished area of the city this hurricane did the people of Queens no favours. It was an eye opener and glad we were able to help in some way.
The Ramones - 'Rockaway Beach'
The Bronx is the home to the famous Apollo Theater which boasts legendary appearances over the years from Motown greats like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and The Pips to Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and so many more. I did however hear this banger as I rounded the corner to the bridge back into Manhattan.
Big Pun - 'Still Not A Player'
Manhattan is where the madness ends. The race crosses back into Manhattan at the Madison Avenue Bridge at 139th street. It makes it way to 5th Avenue all the way to Geggenheim Museum and then into Central Park. I was a bit delirious at this point and don't recall hearing too many songs. It was all crowds screaming and encouraging you to push yourself as it was almost over. The only song I do recall was so stereotypical yet perfect at the same time. It was none other than Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys - 'Empire State of Mind'.
Thanks for reading/listening,