New York Marathon: Along race's route, a variety of music and messages
NEW YORK — Experiences along the New York City Marathon's 26.2-mile route were as diverse as the 45,350 official entrants who ran it Sunday.
For some, the morning of the marathon was a time of uncertainty.
Erwin Franieck rode the downtown R train in Brooklyn at 8:30 a.m. in sneakers and shorts — out of place among the parkas and scarves in the car. Franieck, 49, who was visiting New York from Sao Paolo, said he tried to sign up for the marathon but was not accepted. He said a friend had told him that many people unofficially join the race while it is in progress, but he was unsure of where to go.
Franieck said his desire to run the course would not take away resources from those running the race legally. As if to prove that point, he pulled a few packets of PowerBar Energy Gel from his windbreaker. "I don't need to take anything from the official runners," he said.
Nearby, a group of seven men from the same block in Staten Island, were equally unsure of where to go to find their friend John Benedetto, 25, who they thought was about to leave the bridge on his handcycle.
Benedetto was paralyzed from the chest down, said his brother Nick, 22, after being thrown by a wave at the Jersey Shore a year and a half ago. The men had come out to support him in his first marathon with 18-inch wooden sticks with pictures of his face attached.
"It's unbelievable what he's doing," Nick Benedetto said of his brother.
No matter where Benedetto left the bridge, though, he would have certainly been bombarded by music as soon as he turned onto Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. In Bay Ridge, the tunes skewed toward classic rock — Steppenwolf and the Beatles — but as the race went on, the styles became more eclectic.
Standing on the corner of Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street in Williamsburg, a bearded duo called Superman's Guest List struggled to define their style.
"It's experimental," said Gary Cullen, 30, while standing in front of a row of vintage drum machines.
Further north, people sipped on beer and Bloody Marys at the trendy restaurant Five Leaves, while across the street, an eight-member group played the traditional music of abada-capoeira, a Brazilian musical martial art, creating a pulsating rhythm for the runners streaming around McCarren Park.
And throughout the day, the signs along the route were as eclectic as the music. Around 11:30 a.m. on Manhattan Avenue, Megan Masek, 25, of Greenpoint, stood waiting for her sister, Tracie, 28, to pass. With five of her friends, she held signs that read, "Faster," "Don't Stop" and "That's What She Said."
Across the street, Christopher Sabocinski, 43, held a small sign written in Polish for his friend. "It basically says run faster," he said.
Later in Harlem, James Crosby, 23, held aloft a sign that read, "Run for this fat kid," with an arrow pointing down. He said that he struggled with obesity and heart problems when he was a child, but that he had lost weight in recent years. As if on cue, a man running by smiled and yelled, "What fat kid?"
But others in Harlem did not seem quite as enthusiastic about the race.
Around 1:30 p.m., Rhonda White, 56, was sitting on a chair in front of Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church on the west side of Marcus Garvey Park, bouncing her 9-month-old grandson, Landon, in her lap and looking slightly put upon. "We try to be in the spirit of what's going on," White said with a smile.
Still, she said the marathon brought certain annoyances. White, who plays piano for the church, said noise from the outside disrupted their service and that attendance had been low that morning because people could not get to the building.
"It's hard, but we're used to it now," she said.
Down the block, Michael Fishman, 52, who was with about a dozen other people clad in blue sweatshirts representing the charity Harlem United, said such concerns were overblown.
"It's just one day," he said, laughing. "Wherever God is, they can find him."
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