E.A. Sports Today

‘I am not scared’

Local runners head to New York Marathon cautious, but undeterred by tragic events in city earlier this week

Robin Wood of Piedmont hits the wire to finish his first marathon in Chattanooga. He runs the New York Marathon this weekend.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Robin Wood was on his lunch break Tuesday scrolling through his phone at some last-minute details for his trip to the New York Marathon when the news flashed across his screen.

A terrorist truck driver had just plowed through the crowd on a Lower Manhattan bicycle path, killing eight and injuring dozens.

Hundreds of miles away Wood was getting ready to leave for the biggest running experience of his life, a bucket-list event for long-distance runners, but even in the face of such disturbing news he never thought of pulling out.

“I’m not scared,” he said Wednesday, “because you can’t live life scared. If you do, you’re not ever going to leave Piedmont and do anything with your life. I can’t live my life scared. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

JoAnn Fort, a retired educator from Gadsden, didn’t learn of the attack until Wednesday morning when she jumped on the treadmill to start her day. She cried when she heard the details.

She has been looking forward to running in the New York Marathon for five years, ever since she and fellow Anniston runners Brooke Nelson and Will Williams withdrew the day before the race was cancelled in 2012 due to Superstorm Sandy, and will not be deterred this time.

“It’s a race I’ve always wanted to run and I’m so excited about it,” she said. “We’re living in a time now you can’t afford to be scared because as far as with the terrorists and all it’s everywhere and it’s random and you just don’t know.

“You can’t live your life that way. I’m not going to live my life that way. I’m really not worried. I hate that it happened, it’s very tragic. It’s something unfortunately we have to deal with every day now, but I’m not worried.”

The 47th annual race will go on as scheduled Sunday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio said after the attack that security, already heightened after the 9/11 attacks and Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, would be intensified for the marathon.

The race is expected to draw 50,000 runners and 2.5 million spectators throughout the 26.2-mile course that winds through the city’s five boroughs. The site of Tuesday’s attack is about four miles from the nearest point of the marathon course.

Wood, a 38-year-old salesman for Coca-Cola, plans to make a week out of it with non-runner friends and is more concerned about his safety in the events of the week than he is at the race.

“It kind of makes me a little nervous because after the race we’ve got like five sight-seeing attractions booked and a lot of walking and it makes me nervous because I’ve got my 9-year-old with us and my friend has his two boys with him,” he said. “With 50,000 runners being there, their security already is going to be top-notch. I’m not worried about race day. I’m worried about after race day.”

Wood won his spot in the race via a runner’s lottery. It will be his third marathon and first time in New York. He ran his first two marathons in Chattanooga in 3 hours, 53 minutes and 3:43. Because of his touristy approach to this run he doesn’t expect to come close to a personal best this time, but he’d still like to come in under four hours.

“I’m not trying to beat a time,” he said. “I’m going more as a destination race, a sight-seeing race. I’m getting to run through all five boroughs. If I see something pretty neat I want to slow down and take in the view. I’m going for the experience.”

And nothing was going to deter him from that.

UPDATE: Robin Wood ran the Marathon Sunday in 4 hours, 7 minutes.

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