Emerging from the medical tent, freshly bandaged and finishers medal around my neck, I was all smiles.
I finished in just over three hours, this would have been better if I had not lost about ten minutes shortly before the finish reading the memorial markers and checking out the USS LITTLE ROCK in the Buffalo Navel Park. The split for the full had come immediately before the finish, and although the conditions were perfect for running a longer distance, I heard the sighs from a few runners around me who made the right turn with the finish line directly in their line of sight!
Miles eight to ten, leading back into downtown had run along the Erie Basin and Marina, (complete with a water salute from the Buffalo Fire department) was a stretch that had been simply breathtaking.
Before we entered the basin, the route had taken us out of the downtown area and through beautiful residential neighborhoods of Buffalo with wide streets, grassy boulevards, and majestic homes. These wide streets were a welcome relief to runners who had been crowded in narrow streets during the first two miles of the race. This was a new route for the Buffalo Marathon, which had struggled in the past with a train crossing the route mid race, slowing many runners down. Like any route, there is give and take, positive and negative. The narrow path of the first portion of this race had many runners hopping on and off the sidewalks to move through the crowd.
One of these runners had hopped off the sidewalk in-front of a parked car just before mile one and knocked me over. Instinctively breaking the fall with my dominant hand, I lost most of the skin on the bottom of my palm. Although I would blot it with paper towels at several water stops, it would continue to bleed until I had it cleaned and wrapped at the medical station after the race. Despite the injury – I had a wonderful race. Possibly this was due to the flag, hanging over the road held up by two cranes just before my fall at the .5 mile mark, which reminded me what this weekend was about. Memorial Day – a day of remembrance for all who have fallen so I can be free. In the shadow of that great sacrifice made by so many, my drops of blood left on the pavement seemed a small sacrifice for the life I am allowed to live.
I had arrived downtown early that morning to find parking and was fortunate to find it free along a side street close to the start line. The downtown hotels had been pricy, but staying at the Town Place Suites by the Airport gave me a full kitchen at a great price, and was only a 15 min drive away. The expo had been small but easy to find and navigate.
The night before runners had gathered for dinner – included with the race fee and $5 for guests. It was fun to sit and share stories with runners from all over the country. The pasta was not gourmet, but the experience was delightful, and the beer was included.
This was my first visit to Buffalo – but it will not be my last. So much history lies in and around this city. From the birthplace of Buffalo wings at The Anchor Bar downtown, to Niagara Falls State Park just a short drive away, it is a great American city that needs to be visited, explored, and appreciated by all.