As a New Yorker, I am inspired every November as the marathoners pour into our city from all over the world. This year, for the first time, I joined the race.
And as I began my training in earnest during the summer, I also learned about Fred’s Team, the official New York City Marathon charity, to help fund research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. So throughout the fall, I not only trained for the big race—I also joined Fred’s Team and established the ICS Against Cancer fundraiser to benefit one our friends whose family is battling cancer right now. As the race date approached, everyone in the ICS community was tremendously supportive of both my training and our fundraising program.
On Sunday morning I felt ready—but no one facing their first marathon really knows what to expect. The race was even more taxing—both physically and emotionally—than I was told it would be. The people in Brooklyn were awesome. So many different neighborhoods. So many characters who came out to cheer us on.
Along the way I was inspired by many of my fellow marathoners. One runner who looked about 80 years old leaned over as he ran—he was literally bent over, but unbelievably, he kept going. Another runner had only one leg and ran with a prosthetic.It was incredibly moving to watch her compete.
I ran with my ICS colleague Joe Plower and when we crossed back into Manhattan and approached Sloan-Kettering, we were energized, reminded of Fred’s Team and all the marvelous work at the Cancer Center. Like almost everyone, we both have too many personal connections to cancer and a stake in cancer research. Joe’s father is fighting cancer right now. And in addition to raising money to Fred’s Team, we were also running for the family of one of our contractors, Justin van Schaik. Justin’s son Danny is fighting leukemia and a portion of the ICS Against Cancer fundraiser was devoted to the van Schaik family to help defray the costs of chemotherapy.
Everything after Mile 22 can only be described as brutal. The last hill in Central Park was a test of wills like I’ve almost never experienced before. When I crossed the Mile 26 mark and saw a sign that said “400 YARDS TO GO!” I thought it would be a snap. It was the longest 400 yards of my life!
For me, the New York City Marathon was a supreme test, a team effort, and an opportunity to race not just against the clock, but against cancer. For all those reasons, I think I may just have to do it again. The ICS Community supported us all the way: Together Joe and I raised nearly $7500 for Fred’s Team and nearly $10,000 for the van Schaik family.
It was an experience I’ll never forget. Don’t be surprised to see me heading for the Verrazano Bridge in the early morning hours of the first Sunday in November next year!
–Doug Klares, President, ICS