On the Cancelled New York City Marathon 2012: We Ran It Anyway

Tuesday, 6 November 2012  |  Race Reports

The world’s biggest marathon, New York City Marathon 2012, was cancelled last weekend due to the devastation brought about by Superstorm Sandy on the city. Here’s an article written by TBR Dream Marathon alumni and friend, Vic Icasas, on his experience running his own New York City Marathon:

Words by Vic Icasas. Photos by Cyn Icasas.

Me and a couple thousand of my new best friends descended on Central Park today, Sunday, November the 4th 2012. This particular date was tattooed on my brain for the past six months because today was supposed to be the day all of us would be running the ING New York Marathon, the world’s largest and most famous road race.

Unfortunately, due to a combination of a brutal Hurricane Sandy and some amazingly indecisive flip flopping on the part of Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Road Runners, the marathon was eventually called off at the worst possible hour – barely a day and a half before the gun start.

Now to be clear, I had and still have absolutely no problem with them calling off the race. Large parts of NY are still without power, water, or heat (including the houses of my cousins and sister-in-law) and there’s an apocalyptic gas shortage that has armed law enforcement officers standing watch over grumpy, seething lines of cars that stretch for miles and miles. It’s just the wrong time. The public outcry and backlash against the inappropriate diversion of city resources (police, generators, volunteers, water) proved too much for the mayor to bear, and after days of protest, he eventually and belatedly conceded that running the race was indeed a bad idea and thus cancelled it.

– Statue of NYCM founder Fred Lebow in Central Park –

But by the time he realized the obvious and called it off, thousands of runners had flown to New York from all over the world. Thousands of dollars had been spent on planes and hotels. Countless miles of hard training had been logged – all for a race that was not going to push through.

So we ran it anyway.



Thanks to Facebook, Twitter,and good ol’ word of mouth, runners started assembling at the barricaded but still intact marathon finish line in Central Park at dawn. Off to the sides in the grandstands, volunteers started to collect donations, old clothes, and pledges for storm victims. A few marathoners even complained good naturedly that there was no bag check station. But heck, there were a lot of things missing. No organized schedule – no organizers, for that matter. No goody bags. No medical teams. No marshals or law enforcement. No water or food stations – this would come back to haunt me later. Nope, just a bunch of dedicated runners with a rough route (4 laps of Central Park plus a teeny bit more) and a race that needed running, with or without official support.

So we ran it anyway.




I had my own personal support group in the grandstands – my wife Cyn, her sister Cris, and Cris’ husband Ed, himself an alumnus of the 2011 marathon. I left a stash of water bottles with them with the understanding that I would refill my solitary, tiny little drink flask every time I looped around. The crowd spontaneously chanted down from ten to one, and with a couple of war whoops and good spirited heckling, we were off.

I sailed easily through the first two loops, powered by pent up energy and an abundance of good cheer and bonhomie. My spirit was soaring seeing so many runners doing what they came to do.

I saw teams sporting flags from France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Costa Rica and Australia. A runner wearing an Indonesia shirt passed me and after seeing my shirt, hollered “Go Philippines” in a heavy accent. I replied in kind. A gigantic runner from the Netherlands lumbered past me, slowed down and looked my way and said “Oh, Philippines! Makati! I have kids in Makati!” Then he sped off.





By the third loop, I realized that I might be in a spot of trouble. The northern part of Central Park plays host to a quarter mile incline with about a 4.4% grade called Harlem Hill, and each time around Harlem Hill was definitely kicking my ass and wearing me down. At the 32K mark I reached for my water bottle to pop an energy gel and slake my parched throat – and gasped to realize that it was empty. And I was at least 5 kilometers away from my support group.

The 32K mark is legendary among marathoners for being the point in the race where “the marathon truly begins”. It’s hard enough to do that final 10K with a full complement of water and aid stations and cheering fans lining the streets. And here I was with a bone dry water bottle and nothing with which to wash down my much needed gel. I started slowing. Then I tried to speed up. Then I started slowing even more to barely a shuffle. Finally at the 35K mark, I started to walk and couldn’t start up again.

This is where my support group sprang into action. Hearing my panicked phone call, Cyn and Ed grabbed water bottles, ventured out onto the course and started making their way towards me as I was limping back towards them. They accompanied me all for every step of that last painful 7K as I staggered towards the finish, and their company and much needed encouragement even got me to manage a respectable if somewhat awkward run over the last kilometer until my Garmin’s screen finally showed the magic number: 42.2 kilometers. And right there in the middle of nowhere, at an anonymous spot in the park surrounded by trees and bikers and curious onlookers, with no real finish line other than the numbers on my watch, I fell gratefully into Cyn’s arms and I was done.

– Cris David, Cyn Icasas, the author Vic Icasas, and Edward Carrasco –


There are still people without power, food or supplies in New York, and it will take some time for the city to get back to anything resembling normal. I’m pretty certain that New Yorkers will overcome their problems and prevail. They’re strong, resilient, tough minded and have a lot of heart, which not coincidentally are the same attributes one needs to cultivate in order to run a marathon.

Yes, even if that marathon was cancelled – we ran it anyway!



ING New York City Marathon 2011: Done!

Monday, 7 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights


– I get my NYCM 2011 medal plus a bonus thumbs up from a race volunteer –

I did it!

As I write this, it’s 7:30 am and I’ve been up since 3 am.  I’m in my recovery tights sipping French Vanilla coffee and munching on leftover pretzels from the finisher’s bag of the race.

It’s just the morning after I crossed the finish line of my 2nd New York City Marathon and 6th marathon finish. It wasn’t a spectacular performance; it was quite the opposite.  My slowest and most painful marathon ever.   Time on my Garmin: 5 hrs 21 mins. (I never crossed 5 hours before, but hey there’s always a first.) But, it was the best I could do given the circumstances.  I gave my all as most marathoners did and we should all be proud of the 42.195k—including the months of training before that day—that we conquered.

After my first few marathons, I learned that one doesn’t have the right to complain about bad runs or awful performances in a 42km. No use killing yourself over what you should’ve done or what you could’ve done better.  Each marathon—whether a BQ, a PR, or the slowest one ever—is unique, special, and is a celebration of life. You only learn from your mistakes, accept the fact that, as with life, not everything is under your control, and you move forward knowing that there are many more marathons to run in your lifetime.

I fly home to Manila tomorrow. So, give me this week to write my full marathon story as I savor my last day (along with some steak with other Pinoy runners. Yum!) in what I think is now my favorite city in the world, New York.  See you all soon, guys!

Check my Facebook for all NYCM 2011 pictures I took while on the run!

Thank you again to Gatorade for an amazing experience!

The Day Before the New York City Marathon 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011  |  Gear + Gadgets, Healthy Food + Recipes

My cousin, Celine and I woke up to a slow and sleepy Saturday morning and set out for a half day of shopping ahead.  Of course, shopping had to be brief because I didn’t want to stay on my feet all day.

– We shopped around the midtown area and hunted for my Canon S100 which was out of stock everywhere. Sob sob. –

I dropped by Jack Rabbit, a running store on Lexington Ave. between 83rd and 84th, to buy my Gatorade pre-race fuel and a cool new shirt. I chose to wear my race day shoes already, KSwiss Kwicky Blade Light, because my poor little toes have been getting a beating from walking in the wrong shoes the past few days…


We had a late lunch at an italian restaurant with Jet, NY-based member of Adobo Run Club who is also running NYCM for the 2nd time and a good friend of Celine’s. Celine carbo-loaded along with us. Haha!

– Loved this caprese! –

– with Jet and Cel –

Jet and I bought bagels at H&H for our breakfast during the long pre-race wait at the race. I’ll be spreading peanut butter on my whole wheat bagel and I’ll down it with Gatorade probably at the ferry headed towards Staten Island tomorrow.  Oh, just mentioning my beloved peanut butter gets me drooling. Oink.

– with Jet –

As soon as Cel and I arrived home and after oohing and aahing over our shopping finds, I laid out all my gear for the big day.

On one side of the room, I set all my gear to wear for the race tomorrow: three layers of Nike tops, 2XU compression tights, Nathan hydration belt, Asics gloves and Oakley shades.

Check out that bib. Looks so simple, but it gives so much info about each runner:
– Name
– Color: Green. This means I’m in the green Village. Others are in orange and blue. This tells me which start line I’ll be crossing and what village I should wait in before the race.
– Wave No. 2. This indicates my start time of 10:10 am. Others start at 9:40 and 10:40.
– First two numbers: 37. This tells me I’m in Corral 37 within Wave 2.


Then, I set my PRE-RACE clothes that I’ll be wearing in the morning heading to the race, but not during the race. (Complicated huh?)  Weather is expected at 57F which is awesome! But, I’m still bringing my fleece jacket, throwaway clothes, and tear away gear to be safe.


I packed a lot into my check in bag this time, a lesson I learned from last year’s race. I placed two sets of clothes for changing post-race just in case I head straight for post-race celebrations with other Pinoy runners. I also brought a blanket, trash bags, food, medicine, and toiletries for pre and post race. Depositing and claiming of the bags are quick and efficient at NYCM despite the huge number of runners.


I prepared my pre-race nutrition. I’ve been drinking Gatorade today to ensure I’m hydrated and I’ll take the Gatorade pre-race fuel tomorrow. Results of my Gatorade sweat test indicate I should drink 125mL every 15 minutes.  I’ll also take Hammer Gel 30 minutes before the race and at 10k, 20k, and 30k.


Phew. It took me close to an hour to pack. That doesn’t even include all the brainwork on planning how to get to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and more importantly how to get home to Celine’s apartment which is not a joke when you’re a tourist in New York!  Despite all this, the New York City Marathon is worth all the troubles for me…even the second time around.

I’m all set for the race. Even my toenails say so! NY, here we go…

– Just like Dara Torres, I painted my toenails as part of pre-race preps. I wanted to put NYC 42K but they wouldn’t fit into my tiny toenails! Those Phiten circular stickers are supposed to help circulation around my tired toes. I hope they work! –

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Running in Central Park: Last Run before NYCM 2011

Saturday, 5 November 2011  |  Running + Triathlon

This morning, Rico, Angela, Anthony and I ran our last run before the New York City Marathon 2011 this Sunday.  We met at the corner of 59th and 5th, right by the Apple store (oh, this run was for you, Steve!) and made our way across to Central Park.

– with Rico and Angela doing all the touristy stuff before the run –

– with Rico –

Central Park is a great place to run in. To run on wide, paved rolling hills surrounded by trees and squirrels shuffling about in the heart of New York City is always a surreal experience for me. It was a great way to cap the end of the training period.


Today, the park was busy with preparations for race day. A lot of runners participating in Sunday’s race were running probably their last runs too just like us. Banners and scaffolds were up for the last few kilometers towards the finish. And, lucky for us, no less than Mary Witternberg, President of New York Road Runners was at the finish line introducing celebrity runners who would be running the marathon. We spotted Mario Lopez but I wasn’t familiar with the others. (Did you know Christy Turlington is running? So are Edward Norton and the Chilean Miner again! Click HERE)

– Celebrity runners for New York City Marathon 2011 –

– Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Road Runners –

– As close as I could possibly get to Mario Lopez and his dimples hah! –

– Is this Ryan Sutter who married Trista on The Bachelorette? Yes, yes, I’m showbiiiiz –

We ran through some of the last few kilometers of the marathon course, through the finish line, and until, what I like to call, one of the longest walks of my life, a slow walk from the finish line to the exit out of Central Park after the race.

– Anthony and I at Mile 25. I wonder if we’ll look this fresh when we cross the same portion on race day –

– Anthony, Rico, and Angela –

– This is the road taking runners from the finish out to Central Park. It looks short now. But after running a 42km and the only thing you wanna do is to rest, this slow walk is a tough one. –

– Yes, we just had to have our pic taken here! –

After running 4k in such cold and windy weather, we found ourselves at one of the best pizza places in New York City: Patsy’s Pizzeria.  I read about this in a magazine and was drooling even before I tasted the pizza.


Yum!  I wasn’t hungry, but I ate more than I should.  Good thing it’s carboloading time!


After a great run and a sumptuous lunch, we runners refused to run or walk home in the cold. It was off to the subway to make it to our own warm and cozy apartments and hotels as soon as possible!


NYC Marathon Shirts

Tuesday, 1 November 2011  |  Gear + Gadgets

Every time I run a marathon abroad, buying a souvenir marathon shirt—aside from the Finisher’s shirt or singlet that comes with the race kit—is a must.  You see, every marathon, regardless of performance, is memorable.

I once asked the legendary Jeff Galloway which of the many marathons he’s run in his lifetime was his favorite.  He replied: All marathons are like children to me.  I love them all.  I don’t play favorites.

Back to the shirts, here’s what I dug out from my cabinet as I was packing for NYC Marathon: (I leave tomorrow!)

– NYC Marathon 2010 Official Long-Sleeved Shirt –

– NYCM 2010 Shirts from Asics (left) and Mizuno (right). Got these at the expo –

– Nike NYCM 2010 shirt –

– A present from Team PH. Love love love this shirt! Hilarious plus I like the quality of the shirt! You can get a shirt just like this by visiting Team PH FB page. Click HERE

And now for this year’s race. Pinoy runners running NYC Marathon 2011 had this made. We should all be wearing this, but mine is too big! Sob sob. Still, it’s a great shirt to own. Pinoy Pride, baby!