2011 New York Marathon

Mark Stoleson, USA
November 06, 2011
Total number of finishers: 47,322
Total number in AG M40-44 5,928 // Position in AG M40-44 3,816
Coach’s Remarks: Very nice Stoli and a great cause, I was very poud to have donated here as I really felt strong about your project. Enjoy the read team and hat’s off Mark for raising USD10K and also taking away cramps, you would of smashed that 4 hours.

The report.
Here is the good news: I beat my goal! My fundraising goal that is. I was trying to raise $10,000 for Ubuntu Education Fund www.ubuntufund.org and with your help we not only hit the target but exceeded it, raising a little over $11,000. That will help a great deal as Ubuntu completes their new Pediatric Care Center at Ubuntu in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I have done this once before – raised money for charity in connection with a race – when I ran the Comrades. If you have never done something like this I encourage you to try someday. Running a long distance race on your own is challenging and extraordinary. But to do it with the support of others is sublime. Like you, I like to give and know I’m making a difference, and I know that kids at the Ubuntu Center will benefit from our efforts. But the person who received the most in this whole endeavor is me. I was truly and deeply moved by your generosity, care, encouragement and love – far beyond the financial donations, I am talking about the many notes, postings on my Razoo wall, BBM’s, texts and emails. Being on the receiving end of that kind of spirit is difficult to describe and impossible to forget.

Now, as far as the actual marathon, it was a tale of two races. For the first 25km I felt great, and stayed on my 5:20 per km pace like a robot. I was passing people. I was running like the wind. I had the “Chariots of Fire” theme in my head. I had visions of grandeur, perhaps coming in sub-3:50 and a laurel wreath of victory placed on my head and notes of congratulations from my adoring supporters! Alas, it was not to be. Over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan disaster struck. I felt a tinge in both quads which quickly turned into cramps. I have never experienced cramps in my legs, not even on the Comrades and now have an appreciation for a new kind of agony. It literally stopped me in my tracks. My race then turned into this sequence: run, jog, stop, curse, stretch, walk, curse, run, and repeat… you get the idea. I managed to keep a respectable time hobbling to 30km and then it was over, I was going to have to go into survival mode just to finish. And finish I would. If I was running for myself I might have pulled out but all I could think about was you and the many other people who were backing me. The Ubuntu organization also had giant placards at different points on the course with huge pictures of little kids from the Ubuntu Center and the words “Thank you” written on them. Quit? No way.

At one point a few kilometers from the finish I was walking trying to stretch out the legs and someone ran up beside me and, having seen my “Ubuntu” shirt that I was wearing sporting a huge picture of Africa on it, yelled, “c’mon Ubuntu, you got this”! And that was all it took. I took off running (slowly jogging really) again and managed to make it to the finish where Katherine and my Mom and Dad were waiting. Right before finishing I vowed that I will never do “one of these” again. But within an hour after finishing I knew I’d be back.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement – it meant the world to me!