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Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 11:20 am  |  22 responses

I Ran This City

SLAM does the NYC Marathon, thanks to Asics.

by Ben Osborne

Who said members of the sports media were watchers, not doers? I don’t get to play ball as much as I used to, but as my experience this past weekend proved, I stay active.race_photo_8025

SLAM and SLAMonline will always focus first and foremost on basketball, and it doesn’t take too much effort to find our secondary interest: footwear. That line of coverage typically leads to our working with the big dogs of basketball shoes like adidas, Nike and Jordan Brand, to name three longtime friends of SLAM. But the fact that we feature “off-court” shoes as well let’s us develop relationships with brands such as Asics, DC and New Balance. Asics, of course, is a company that is synonymous with running, as well as the New York City Marathon, which conveniently takes place in SLAM’s backyard.

Last spring, at their semi-annual preview, the Asics PR team let me know that they had slots in the marathon open to media members they worked with. A four-time marathoner, including having completed New York as a 25-year-old in ’99, I jumped at the invite and got my wife (a seven-time marathoner) down as well. What followed was a six-month experience I will be forever grateful for.

Sure, the actual training part of preparing for a marathon is never easy (even if you only manage about 10 miles a week, like I typically did), but thanks to Asics, it was training done right. There were shoes (the classic GEL-Kayano), official gear and pointers—delivered online and at an in-person training session—courtesy of coach Terrence Mahon and one of his proteges, Asics endorser Ryan Hall (pictured below en route to finishing fourth in Sunday’s race, which was won by fellow American Meb Keflezighi; the significance of their performances was captured nicely by Peter Hessler of the New Yorker).

2009 ING NYC MarathonArmed with our gear and insider knowledge, my wife and I boarded a special VIP bus (again, the perks of Asics affiliation) Sunday morning at about 6:30 and headed to the starting area in Staten Island. Once we got there, however, neither Asics nor anyone else would be of much help. We were on our own.

After a shivering couple hours at Fort Wadsworth, we were finally shepherded to the start. At 10 am, we were off. I’ve always thought the coolest thing about the New York City Marathon is the course, which famously hits all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The reminder of what that means hit us in the face as we came off the Verrazano Bridge and ran into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Thousands of fans spilled off the sidewalks on both sides of the street, cheering, yelling and offering high fives. As someone who is regularly in attendance at sporting events but hasn’t gotten cheered for since my high school playing days, it’s jarring—in a good way—to realize these people are cheering for you (even if there are more than 42,000 “you”s).

And so it went, for 26 miles. After seeing a lot of Brooklyn (the best part, in my opinion, is the stretch on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene which comes around mile 9 and features screaming fans and loud music, trapped under a canopy of trees), we did a couple miles in Queens, took the grueling Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, took 1st Avenue into the Bronx, and then returned to Manhattan, slogging our way to the finish in Central Park. Every step of the way that wasn’t on a bridge, you could feel the largeness of the event. The fans were everywhere. The runners were everywhere.

My wife and I are not celebrities, and we didn’t dribble a basketball the whole way, but we did finish with a respectable time of 4:08:32 (making it into the NY Times special post-marathon results section, which I can’t find online).

It’s been almost 72 hours since we finished, and the soreness in my knees, calves and quads has started to subside. What hasn’t subsided is my pride in completing the race, and my gratitude to Asics for helping make it happen.

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  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    Damn, Ben. Better you than me. lol.

  • neaorin

    Way to go Ben. I’m training for a half-marathon myself, and hopefully I’ll be able to do a full marathon some day. And I love my Kayanos.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Nice work, man. Now if only they’d bring back those classic Rambis joints.

  • http://slamonline.com Susan Price

    Yay for Ben, his wife, my friend George and all the others who ran. I was on Bedford St. in Brooklyn cheering them all on. My favorite might have been the guy in the Minnie Mouse get up. Only in New York.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Neaorin: If you can do a half, you can do a full one. I promise (even if the pain from 20-26 will be severe).

  • neaorin

    Yeah that’s what people have been telling me. I’m taking it one step at a time though.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Damn Ben, that’s gangsta to another degree! Good for you and your wife.

  • http://lacuevacrosscountry.com Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Congrats Ben, great time. I ran Chicago 3 weeks ago, and the experience was insanely amazing. The crowds are hyped for the entire race, and I’ve never felt so happy while performing in a sporting event. NYC & Boston are next on the list.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Way to be, Ben and the Mrs!

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    good job Ben!

  • KHALID SALAAM

    thats great stuff man, congrats

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Congrats, good run. I could do a marathon if you spread it over a month or so.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Russ, you could bike a marathon in like 28 minutes, which is amazing in its own right.

  • http://www.slamonline.com AlanPaul

    Nice job Ben. I ran the NYC marathon — over the course of four years, running with friends and relatives.

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Lawyue

    I have a prof. who runs marathons and she runs with Asics too. No Nikes she says. Congrats, Ben.

  • thedude

    the best running shoes are no running shoes.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Wow Ben, real props from over here. Congratulations. Now try to take on the Boston…haha just playing.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Congrats, Ben. Sounds like a great experience and you and your wife should be proud. Plus, you got the added bonus of missing the Giants game. I probably would have ran for 10 hours if I didn’t have to subject myself to that. Also, I was hoping to spot you in that first picture…are there any in action photos floating around?!

  • Diego

    coming from probably the only SLAM reader who is a division 1 distance runner, congrats Ben. That is a nice time for only running about ten miles a week haha

  • http://slamonline.com Chris O’Leary

    Awesome stuff Ben, congrats. You’ve managed to tick off one of the things on my to do list of life.

  • http://www.nba.com Jim ice Poorten

    Congrats Ben! Great accomplishment

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