Inspired by Big Apple marathon

PUBLISHED: 15:31 18 November 2011

Jo Earlam

Jo Earlam


Spurred on by a recording great time in the New York Marathon, Tipton St John runner, Jo Earlam, is now planning to complete 50 marathons before she’s 50.

Having run 10 in the last six years, that leaves 40 to complete in the next three and a half years.

But that goal has come while she is still on a high from her New York Marathon run.

Her official time was 4:18:42 and, according to the New York Times, Jo was 21,733 out of 47,438 starters, so in the top half.

She said: “It was fantastic, the most impressive marathon I've done in terms of sheer scale and excitement. Apart from my best time of 4:16:20 at Palma two years ago, this is the only other occasion that I've run under 10 minute miling for the full 26.2 miles. There were three separate start times and three separate starts - although I was in the last wave at 10.40am (so a long chilly wait) I was lucky to be on the top deck of the Verrano Narrows Bridge - an incredible structure more than a mile long spanning the Hudson River.

“After a rousing chorus of Frank Sinatra’s 'New York, New York', we ran in glorious sunshine over the bridge with a view to the Statue of Liberty and the whole of Manhattan. The atmosphere was incredible, with runners stretched ahead as far as the eye could see - because of the staggered starts, the elite runners would have been just a few miles from the finish when I got under way.

Jo found the crowd really supportive, five or six deep in places but she was pleased to spot her husband John after miles 16 and 25.

She also enjoyed the American slant to the messages of support ‘Your legs are only hurting because you're kicking so much arse,’ and her favourite just before the 26 mile line ‘Beer is Near!’

Jo is now enjoying a quick rest before training for London 2012 as she has applied for a charity place.

The "near" wasn't quite true, as it turned out that after crossing the finish line there was a mile long queue to collect your kit bag, and then I had more than a mile to walk back to the hotel, but even then the New Yorkers were still really supportive, loads of passers-by calling out "Congratulations", "Knockout" and "Well Done" to everyone with a medal and a dodgy walk. I ended up taking the "knockout" a bit too literally, as back at the hotel, having talked much and eaten little, I blacked out when standing up too quickly after having a bath. I came round lying in the tub, with the shower raining down on me, humming 'New York New York' to myself and wondering why the left side of my face was aching more than my legs. No real harm done though and I still managed a celebratory glass of vino tinto in the hotel bar later.

The rest of our stay in New York was brilliant as well. We loved the whole vibe of the city. Did all the touristy stuff, Empire State Building, ferry around Manhattan, great breakfasts out in a buzzing corner diner, open top bus tour, quick shop round Bloomingdales, and like thousands of others we visited the 9/11 Memorial, an oasis of calm in the dust and noise of the major ongoing rebuild in that part of the city. We found the New Yorkers to be really friendly and John got talking to a whole variety of people as he stood happily puffing his pipe outside the hotel lobby - it seems the city-wide smoking ban was a little overstated, to the extent that he even puffed away whilst chatting to some NYPD street cops..."Go ahead, I love the smell of a pipe," said one when he asked if it was OK to light up.

The scale of it all hit me as I arrived outside the New York Central Library to catch, according to my registration form, "the" 6am bus. "The bus" turned out to be a fleet of hundreds of buses all lined up double parked along Fifth Avenue, with thousands of runners like sheep being shepherded on board in double quick time by a bunch of terrier like volunteers. It was like a military operation, get on board, go go go.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Midweek Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Midweek Herald