I was disappointed with the crowds at the New York City Marathon. Perhaps I had some unreasonable expectations. When the crowd was cheering, they were awesome, but getting them to cheer should not be a chore. Other than my slight disappointment with the crowds, though, I loved the marathon and will definitely run it again some day. While I will begin with why I was disappointed, there were a great many people in the crowd who did live up to my expectations and there points in the race that were absolutely fantastic.

The crowd was not as large as I had expected it to be. I think that might have something to do with my not really thinking about how many people there would be, but I think a lot had to do with the fact that most of the crowd probably did not get out to watch the elites. I was not running with the elites, but I was also running out in front of 98% of the field. My guess is that the majority of the crowd materialized later in the race when the unending masses of runners were passing through the streets.

The crowd was also not as loud as I had expected them to be. At the ING cheering zones, they gave them noisemakers and thunder sticks, and my friend that I ran with feels that is why they were quieter. When you are busy banging a couple of inflated tubes together, you are not making as much noise as you would when you are yelling and screaming encouragement.

The worst thing, though, was how unresponsive the crowd was. At most of the marathons that I have run, the crowd was usually cheering you on. If they weren’t, you could call them on it and they would quickly become enthusiastic. In New York, though, there were at least a half dozen places where they not only were not cheering, but still didn’t cheer when runners yelled or waved at them.

Where the crowd was cheering, however, they were absolutely fantastic! After crossing the Queensboro bridge, you could hear the crowd at the bottom yelling for you before you got there. Between the decline in the bridge and the road, and the massive roar and great crowd support, the runners really got a surge of energy and were able to pick up the pace with little effort.

The finish line was also great. About 2 miles from the finish I hit a quiet spot, but one yell of “I love New York” got everybody going crazy. Once I was closer to the finish, everybody was screaming without any need of encouragement and it really helped us runners pick it up for the last bit.

The bands that were out there were also great! I especially loved the 8 to 10 year olds that were rocking out in Harlem. My buddy didn’t happen to glance over and did not even realize that they were kids.

I have a lot to say about my experiences in New York, but I just got home from my vacation so it will have to filter through over the next week or so. For the folk who were cheering in New York City, I want to thank you because you were terrific. For the folk who were just watching and refused to cheer and yell even when I yelled at you to, I hope you cheered for all the people that came later when the streets were a little more clogged.

For the people that cheered for my friend when he was struggling after I gave you his name, I really want to thank you. He had a great time, and you really helped him through his first marathon.