“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends”
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Boilermaker Sunday begins early- like 3:00 a.m. early.
Walking out the front door I note the cooler temperature (Yes!). My destination is the brewery where I’ll leave my car. The streets along the course have police barricades waiting to be set up. As I pass the Start Line area technicians from one of the T.V. stations are laying cable for the morning’s broadcast.
Pulling on Schuyler Street I see the flashing of amber/blue police lights dancing across the pavement. I show the officer my credentials and parking pass and thank him as he allows me to pass. I grab the few things I can carry that will accompany me- radio, script for the Post Race activities, and sunscreen The area is totally deserted- amazing to think that in a little more than three hours these streets will be wall to wall humanity with buses transporting runners to the start line.
Large refrigerated trucks, dropped in place late last night greet me as I enter the back of the brewery. Forklifts are transporting pallets of water, their headlights cutting through the black. I hear voices of people that I cannot see. Near the stage sound engineers are putting the final touches on the structure.
Along Varick Street snow fence barriers are being reinforced with Boilermaker banners.
At the actual finish line small crowds of people are intent on their specific activities, it’s a hurley burley of activities with timing technicians, media folks, volunteers lugging barriers and banners. I smell coffee brewing (excellent); this weekend traditionally becomes a caffeine-fueled journey for me.
The start line has come alive! Volunteers are filling cups of water. A steady stream of runners is flowing from Pitcher Street (that fits) where the buses are off-loading.
Suddenly a light mist of rain begins to fall, after a minute it stops.
The amount of colors of the shirts of thousands of individual runners is dazzling. Passing by a Hulk Hogan impersonator there appears a group of Canadian woman runners festooned in red Maple Leaf singlets and cowboy hats.
Small conversations with runners I know wishing them good luck.
Check the watch- wow, need to get up near the start!
At 7:45 the wheelchairs take off- I really cheer loudly for them as I imagine the challenges of the hills ahead of them.
Now it’s getting close…
The Mayor’s wlecome, the runners blessing, the playing of the National Anthem.
There is a minute to go; perhaps one of the enduring memories I experience with the race is the utter silence of thousands of runners waiting for the clock to countdown to zero. It’s like a human-driven rocket launch.
The cannon sounds, the surge begins, the speakers blare music.
Through the blur of flesh and fabric I occasionally see a face of an acquaintance. After about ten minutes my hands are starting to hurt from clapping too hard.
It’s time to jump in the paddy wagon and sprint off to the Finish Line.
We’re heading to the final scene!