NYC Marathon, 2006: old dogs, new tricks
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Days before the Marathon I collected my bib number at the Marathon Expo and amongst all the fit athletes there I felt like a fraud. I’d done almost no training and knew, no doubt about it, I could not run the whole event. My longest training run was a half-marathon distance which I could just barely manage. Yet, I had faith that I would get to the finish line. I trusted in my many years of experience running marathons and knew that the excitement of the event can work wonders. Sunday, November 5, 2006, I headed out to the start line.

I wore a t-shirt I had made that honors Schatzi, my sister Celia’s aged Dachshund out in California. I recently learned that, sadly, Schatzi has turned blind and for some reason I wanted to take Schatzi out for a run (figuratively speaking). At 25 pounds over my former marathoning weight and way out of shape I expected to struggle through the second half of the marathon, yet I also felt remarkably calm, relaxed and happy. I looked forward to having some fun.
—Timothy McCarthy


I took the Staten Island ferry to the start which I consider the best way to get there. Time it right and you arrive just in time for the start and avoid hours of waiting and shivering in the staging area.


A fellow marathoner, Juan, approached me in Astoria right after I'd gotten on on the subway. Together we navigated subway, the 8:30 Staten Island Ferry and (pictured here) the shuttle bus on Staten Island to the staging area at Fort Wadsworth.

Leaving the bus, you’ve arrived—little more to do—nothing but marathoners everywhere funneled forward toward the startline. I marveled at the incredible organization of thousands of volunteers, each attending to a carefully considered detail. Amazing the amount of planning involved.


The entry into Fort Wadsworth, the staging area for the start. Onward, into the crush of runners making their last preparations.

I had some difficulty finding the Blue start area. Better signage would have helped. Once there I tossed my shell, wind pants and extra clothes into a bag and handed it over at the UPS truck assigned for my bib number: No. 44.


I stood in line for a last minute visit to a Port-O-San toilet and I then joined the line waiting to go to the starting line. The line organizes with the fastest runners up front and the slower runners behind. I purposely went to the rear of the line.

Another t-shirt sporting a dog mascot.


Meet Richard, my companion in the line, a rather chatty, 74-year-old from Pennsylvania. He talked non-stop.

Slowly the bodies shuffle forward. Runners shed clothing and toss it aside. It will get collected and donated to charity. One has to watch one’s step in order to not trip on cast away clothes.


A woman named Cathy from Southern California took a liking to Richard. At about this time we heard the cannon go off, signaling the start, and we were still far from the start line.