One solitary runner carrying our American flag, seen here around the 19th mile mark, on the way to 26 miles and 385 yards, at our Buffalo Marathon. Volunteering under John Grandits command in North Buffalo at the hot corner of Starin and Hertel, I am part of an army of volunteers that try to make it as easy as possible for the runners to navigate a distance that dates back to ancient Greece. It is called a “hot corner” because if they miss turning left on Hertel from going north on Starin, they will suddenly be off the course, and that will mean that I screwed up! This is just a bit before mile marker 20, which in Boston is affectionately known as “Heartbreak Hill”, where the human body often doesn’t want to go any further.
The Boston Marathon’s tragedy last month may have fueled a record number of entries in this year’s race, with nearly 6,000 entries. To honor Boston, a lot of runners wore very hip “Boston Strong” temporary tattoos, a lot of Boston Strong and Boston Marathon t-shirts, Boston bands played at the start and at the finish line, and there were even some Superman, Batman and Batgirl outfits (perhaps Buffalo is Gotham City!).
Men’s winner Zerihun Etalema leads by 2 minutes here, and wins by about 10 minutes
The temperature was an ideal 40 degrees at the start, as hot weather is an enemy of the long distance runner. It seemed like there was a lot more enthusiastic cheering for the runners this year at my corner. In our pre-race briefing at Delaware Park, John Grandits had told us that there was a lot of additional security this year, with special bomb squad doggies and helicopters. America’s enemies may strike again, but I think not here in Buffalo, and not at this race.
In a close Ladies Race, Buffalo’s Aileen Hoak leads by 1 second here, but eventually loses by 7 seconds to Muliye Gurmu
One of the participants, Tom Simon, from Wisconsin, had stopped at my corner to take a breather. He mentioned that he might only go one more mile (this when there was some 7 1/2 miles for him to go), and was contemplating stopping. Mind you, this was some 4 1/2 hours into the race. But he decided to fight on.
It was time for my corner to tear down the signage, bring the pylons in off the street, clean up the area, and report back to North Buffalo headquarters. I caught up with Tom a couple of miles later, by the Erie County Historical Society, and he was enthusiastic about finishing. Well, finish he did. According to the results sheet, he was Buffalo Marathon finisher 1,234, with a finishing time of 6 hours 47 minutes and 16 seconds. So he started at 7AM in the morning, and ended at 1:47PM in the afternoon! He shows a lot of Buffalo spirit, this one!
Buffalonians making their move
Buffalo Rising reader, please share any stories you might have from this year’s marathon…