Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Being On Yankee Stadium Field: Damon Runyon 5K

About two months ago, I was online at my internship looking at random facts about Yankee Stadium on a website (I didn't do much at my internship). I read that a 5K took place at Yankee Stadium in 2009 for cancer. The organization is known as the Damon-Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. The organization was established in honor of Damon Runyon, a newspaperman and writer about Broadway in New York City, back in 1946. He was 66 when he passed away due to cancer. As the foundation has grown, publicity for it has grown as well. Anyways… in 2009, they were granted access to use Yankee Stadium as a spot for a 5K run. Over 2,500 people showed up and it was a great success.

I came across a sign up for the 2010 race and immediately signed myself up as well as my girlfriend. The date of the race was August 15 and I figured this would be an amazing opportunity to gain a unique perspective on Yankee Stadium on a date in which there would be no game. My girlfriend is a far superior runner to me, and I am the far superior swimmer. I had no idea what to expect going into Yankee Stadium yesterday. 4,000 people were signed up for the race and I figured some of them were there to sprint the whole thing and win for bragging rights. I simply wanted to just run around the stadium and enjoy the views. Quite frankly, I was a bit nervous. I’ve never even RUN a 5K before.

The way the race worked was this… heats of 300-400 people were sent off at a time. The first heat of the day began at 9:30 and they continued until 12:00pm when the last heat was sent. The first heat was a 7:00 minute pace per mile, the second heat was 8:00 per mile, so on and so forth. The last six heats were all for walkers only. I figured, since my father passed away from cancer, the least I could do was run it with pride.

My girlfriend and I were signed up for the second heat. I was freaking out. We checked in at Gate 4 to get the numbers we pin to our shirts and we got on line for heat two. We slowly entered into the Great Hall and waited in a “holding pen” as the people in heat one enthusiastically began their run. I anxiously stood at the starting line behind hundreds of people thinking of what was to come. As the horn sounded, we were off!

We started on the field level and ran around it twice. After finishing the second time around, we headed down a ramp towards the lowest level of the field. We ran through tunnels and hooked a hard right. What I saw before me was the most beautiful sight my eyes have ever seen. As I proceeded forward, my feet hit dirt. I was on Yankee Stadium field. I ran two laps around the warning track of Yankee Stadium. It was one of the most awesome experiences I have ever been a part of. To wear my father’s name with pride on the back of my shirt while running around the Yankee Stadium warning track and running for cancer; I felt incredible. I touched the walls and the scoreboards and the bullpen. I bent down to touch the grass to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be down there when the stadium is at full capacity. We jogged up stairs to the second level, jogged around and up more stairs to the grandstand/terrace level. Ran around that, down the ramps all the way to the bottom level, and then back up to the terrace and back down the ramps again. As I crossed the finish line, I felt so accomplished. I never even thought of walking a part of it and jogged/ran the entire thing. Although I don’t know my time, I’m sure it was fairly fast. I was so amped on adrenaline that I could do anything.

I just wanted to let everyone know that this was a spectacular opportunity and I highly recommend that you run it next year. It was so much fun and I’m overjoyed that I participated. It’s truly something I will hold near and dear to me for the rest of my life.

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