Dreams Become Reality: The Really Cool Story Of The Guy Holding The Tape At The Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile

September 28, 2010

Editor's note: We received this great email on Monday, September 27th. We highly recommend  you read it.

Hello Letsrun,

    You always recommend to readers like myself to go to professional races when the opportunity presents itself. Well on the behalf of me and 3 of my teammates at the University of Maryland Baltimore County I would like to say, 'Thank you for that advice.'

        If you look closely at the photo on the home page of Amine Laalou winning the race you will see on the right hand side of the picture the person in the blue shorts holding the finishing tape. That happens to be my teammate who traveled with me to watch the race. You may ask how he got to hold the tape as the fastest runners inn the world sprinted at him? It is very simple actually, it is because the people of the New York road runners are some of the nicest people my teammates I have never met, and they truly like to see the joy running brings to  their members and fans.

       All this started because, well we are running nerds and wanted the best spot possible to watch the race. We arrived at the finish line at 9:30 and planned to stand their until the pro race at 1 (all of us wore black UMBC shirts because our coach tell us to wear them at any race we go to). We chatted with the announcer for a little while and he was amazed that we would travel  from Baltimore to see the race. Next to us was standing a small lady who had finished her mile race in just over 8 minutes. With very little going on we started talking to her. As it turns out she knows everyone in the new york road runners. This nice lady told the announcer, who as she said always supports her, that he should interview us. He did, and after none other that Mary Wittenberg came up and introduced her self thanking us for traveling to watch the race.

        Ten minutes later a man come over to us telling us Mary would like us to be on the live show and that we could watch the race from the media and sound area by the finish. After our interview, which from what our coach says the best quote was "we're looking to run fast next week at paul short", Mary came and thanked us and said to feel free to talk to  any of the runners after the race, and to let her know if we plan to come to new york to  see any more races.

        To us the day was better then we ever could have imagined but it was about to get better.  Two minutes before the men's race a man came up to us and said "I'm about to make one of you really happy, pick a number from one to 10." The lucky number was 5 and my teammate who guessed it was told he could hold the finishing tape.

         After the race, which we watch with Coach Lee and Julia Rudd, and about 50 pictures of my teammate standing at the finish with his mouth wide open in awe, our dreams really did come true as we got to chat with the pros. The best of which for me was Bernard Lagat who has been a hero of mine since I started running several years ago.

        Because of this wonderful experience, I am emailing you guys at letsrun to first thank you for your advice. But mostly to give a huge thumbs up to Mary Wittenberg and the people of the New York road runners. They were able to make a trip a few college kids took to burn some time on the weekend into one of the most inspirational and awesome experiences of our lives. They truly made our Dreams Become Reality.

Thank you,
UMBC xc runner

(Editor's Note 1: We found out the author of this email is Tim Jones and his teammates are Roy Jones, Sam Boimov and TJ Cowing. TJ was the lucky one who got to hold the tape in the photo below.
Editor's Note 2: Coach Lee is Bernard Lagat's coach and Julia Rudd is Alan Webb's fiancĂ©e. UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County) is our new favorite NCAA XC team.
Editor's Note 3: If this story doesn't prove once and for all that Mary Wittenberg and the people at the NYRR "get it" - what our sport is all about - then we don't know what does.


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