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Remember September 11th
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
September 11, 2007

As a New Yorker, the attacks of Sept. 11 remain strong within my memory.  It was a lovely late summer day, with the sun shining brightly.  I was at my desk working early in the morning when I received a telephone call from my wife's mother, telling us to turn on the television.

The image of smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center didn't seem so ominous at first glance.  The towers were so huge, and the trail of smoke so narrow.  I remember saying to my wife, Jane, how terrible it was that some pilot lost control of his small plane and hit the tower.  When we saw the second plane hit, we realized that something terrible was happening.  I turned to Jane and said, "get dressed."

The rest of the day was a blur of fear and tears as the unthinkable was happening in our city.  We spent most of the day at a blood center trying to donate blood, but there were too many of us.  After hours of waiting, we were told to go home.  That feeling of helplessness still haunts me today.  I was unable to do anything to stop this madness.

In a small way, I was able to do something less than two months later.  In my role with the New York Road Runners, I helped to organize the 32nd New York City Marathon, and we hosted the USA Marathon Championships.  It was only my first year working on the marathon.  On race day, as we rode to the start on special busses reserved for the elite athletes, we could see the smoke rising from Ground Zero as we drove over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  My sense of mission was heightened: staging this race would honor the victims of the attacks and would demonstrate to the rest of the world that New Yorkers were resilient.  Life here would go on, despite the pain and sadness.

The marathon was a huge success.  Tesfaye Jifar broke the men's course record which still stands (2:07:43).  Scott Larson and Deena Drossin (now Kastor) won the USA titles (it was Kastor's marathon debut), and Margaret Okayo won the women's race in a then event record of 2:24:21.  23,664 intrepid runners finished the race.  They saw the real New York: millions lining the streets to urge them to do their very best.

Now, six years later, life here seems as it was before: busy, busy, busy.  However, Ground Zero remains a big hole in the ground, emblematic of the hole left in our hearts by the death of 2,973 people in the combined attacks.  We will never forget that day, nor those whom we lost.

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