New York Marathon, 2004

Jennie Stone, Ted Jackson and Jonny Wates all completed the 26.2 mile course and in so doing secured pledges to the William Wates memorial trust of over £30,000. When gift aid is factored in the sum raised could rise to nearer £38,000. That is a wonderful testament to the memory of William and a testimony to the generosity of those who pledged their support.

Jennie shattered her personal best time by nigh on 45 minutes, Ted completed his first marathon and Jonny was just pleased to finish. The New York Marathon is one of the most popular in the world. Some 35,000 runners travel through 5 boroughs, crossing 5 bridges and passing an estimated 2 million spectators who line the route. Among the crowds were Jonny’s wife (and Jennie’s sister) Pip, and Jennie’s parents Peter and Annie Stone.

For anyone considering a marathon, we would recommend New York without reservation. It is picturesque and the people get behind you with real enthusiasm. There can’t be many sporting events where amateurs are part of the event in the same way as the professionals. The only down side is the deceptively sylvan finish through Central Park. The final three miles are mostly uphill, which was an inconvenience after 23 miles travelled!

The three of us had the privilege of travelling to the start on the Verrazano Bridge with the Fire Department of New York / NYPD convoy. This came about because we met Pat Connolly, A New York fireman, in the queue for registration on the Thursday of race week. Police outriders sped us to a special holding area and later we were led to the very front of the field for the start. The FDNY shirts we were given ensuring we attracted enthusiastic support all the way round.

Pat’s story is an amazing one, even by New York fireman standards. He joined his brother in the Fire department after several years working as an investment banker. His first day at work was 9/11. He and his crew were in the North Tower when it collapsed and 4 of his colleagues were killed. The week before the marathon Pat and 42 other firemen completed a marathon cycle from California to New York. In so doing they raised over $1m dollars for the widows and families of firemen killed across the U.S in the line of duty. Jennie and Ted visited his fire house and met his colleagues. They could not have been more hospitable.

In its entirety, the weekend was hugely memorable. For those of us running, to finish was a thrill, but to do so with the hopes and support of so many of you was a real privilege.