The back of the police paddy wagon was pitch black save the indirect light coming in from the front windshield. We rocked back and forth in the darkness as the siren screamed.
The vehicle stopped, the rear door of the compartment we were housed in was bathed in sunlight causing a moment of disorientation.
We are back on Schuyler Street where less than six hours earlier the streets were dark and deserted.
The crowd along the street near the finish line is packed three to four deep; the loudspeaker is announcing the names of the tail end of the 5k participants.
The finish line proper is packed in with media, security, and chute crew staff.
The wheelchair winner comes blazing through the finish with a time of 36 minutes 41 seconds. Think about that- he (Matt Lack from New Zealand) finished the race over 6 minutes faster than the 15k male winner!
The cloud cover that was providing a protective layer for the runners has burned off. I could feel the humidity level beginning to rise as the moisture-laden air began to heat up- that’s not good. At this point the back of the pack of the 15k are perhaps through the halfway point of the course with the merciless, shade-less, Burrstone Road bridge waiting a mile down the road.
Time to head backstage I follow the corridor of beer built specifically to lead to the rear of the brewery- the silence of the hallway is slowly getting replaced by the rhythmic thumping of the drums from the band.
In the backstage is a hodgepodge of elite athletes, security, and invited guests.
One last chance to check the script.
The producer motions me that it’s time to go on the stage.
Stretching in front of me are tens of thousands of runners, friends of runners, volunteers, and ordinary community folk. So this is what a rock star faces-wow!
My official task is to introduce Nick Matt whose ‘house’ we sort of invade the second Sunday in July.
The choreography of the 10:00-10:30 stage time is literally down to the second. Why; because (hopefully) we have the jets flyover at that very end of the singing of the National Anthem. Facing us is a large countdown clock methodically ticking down to 10:30.
The singers sing, the flag is raised- now where are those jets? Turns out between low visibility coming out of Griffiss and significant turbulence they came on station about 20 seconds late. They make up for it by making 4 passes over the crowd.
I receive notification that all the people who have been transported to the hospital will be released in a few hours (YES!).
A final toast to members of the 108th Infantry stationed in Utica, deployed in Afghanistan and planning a Boilermaker ‘shadow run’ (will write a separate blog on that in the future).
My duties for the day are now officially done! I now get the chance to do one of my favorite activities, walking the crowd in the Post Race Party. If you can’t run the race the best way to ‘catch the vibe’ is to talk to people who just have.
The band has stopped playing, the beer taps are shutdown, and the cleanup crew has begun the great garbage pickup.
As I head back to my car I stop and say thank you to the Birnie Bus drivers who are waiting to transport people back to the Start Line.
The long day is over- it is done.