It was a beautiful, albeit chilly morning in the saintly city. In fact it was the first hard freeze of the new season. The GFTNC and I walked the three or so blocks to Summit Avenue where the Twin Cities marathon was to pass, actually pretty early in the day. Most of the auto traffic in the city was squelched because Summit Avenue was closed for a significant part of the day. I calculated from knowledge gleaned from the newspaper that the lead runners would get to the Governor's Mansion, also the location of mile post 24, at about ten a.m. We found a vantage point near the mansion and near the cheering section there and waited for the action to begin.
At precisely 10:07, a bank of motorcycle policemen escorted the lead runner past mile post 24. The parade of runners, that was to last at least until we left the parade route at 12:30, began. The guy that was in the lead was the eventual winner, Christopher Kipyego of Kenya, with a time of 2:14:55. For 26 cold miles. For those who like math, that's about five minutes and 12 seconds a mile for 26 consecutive miles. That's flying. More about the race can be found in this link.
The first runner past the 24 mile marker and the ultimate winner of the marathon came by us pursued by a group of four runners about fifteen seconds behind him. He finished nine seconds ahead of the fastest of the four followers. And won first prize of $15,000.
The first wheelchair racer, Saul Mendoza of Wimberley, Texas, crossed the 24 mile marker far ahead of his competition. It was his ninth win in the Twin Cities Marathon.
We stayed and watched for another two hours plus as a stream of humanity of all ages, but mostly with pretty thin bodies, ran by us. There were young runners and tall runners, some in costume, all with varied running apparel. It was 28 degrees at about the time the race started, but most of the runners were lightly dressed. Some of the women were what I'd consider scantily attired. A few men were shirtless. One woman went by in a dress and bare feet. I wished them all god speed. These people had all finished 12/13 of a very long race and some were guaranteeing themselves a few days of considerable pain and stiffness.
The GFTNC and I did a lot of cheering and encouraging of the runners. She channeled her cheerleading days, and I kept reminding the runners that there were only two more miles and they could finish and have bragging rights to having completed a real marathon. A lot of them were pretty grateful for the cheers and a few mouthed thank you's as they passed.
I don't really understand long distance running, but I'm pretty sure not everyone understands my need to play tennis four or five times a week. Even not understanding the need to run, I sure respect the effort necessary to run 26 miles in near freezing weather.
We came back to my place in time to talk to the Prairie Princess on the telephone. She's off in a corner of Africa beyond my experience, but appears to be doing well in her effort to finish her graduate study research. She'll be home in about two months for the holidays and she'll have lots of tales to tell. For now, all is well.