Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Greatest Joggling Marathon That Wasn't

They say nothing comes from nothing, but that was not the case with my non-joggling marathon in New York City on Nov. 1. It turned out that quite a bit come from the joggling marathon that didn't happen.
My previous post on this blog ended up sparking a global debate on the limits of anti-terrorism security measures, and probably also led thousands of people to google "joggling." The joggling ban was featured in the New York Times, Runner's World, the Atlantic and Canadian Running, among many others.

After I wrote the blog about the New York City Marathon banning joggling beanbags, I first heard from sports writer Jon Hart, who wanted to interview me for sports magazine I wrote back to Jon saying sure, I'll do an interview, but that only about three people will be interested in the story. I was very wrong. 

Canadian Running wrote a piece about it, then I did an interview with Runner's World, which also ran a hugely popular article on weird items you can't bring to the NYC Marathon. 

Dianne and I headed to New York City and began our marathon prep, somewhat relieved to be able to relax and not have to deal with the pressure of trying to set a Guinness World Record or do media appearances. But the day before the race, I got an email from New York Times reporter Lindsay Crouse, who had seen the Runner's World piece. Next thing I knew I was doing a phone interview with the freaking New York Times! 
During the long journey to the start line of the 2015 NYC Marathon.

Lindsay and I couldn't stop laughing during the interview, even though the subject matter had some serious elements to it. From my point of view, the juggling beanbag ban was a sort of war on fun, and an example of security precautions gone haywire.

Amazingly, in one evening, Lindsay pulled together what I think is one of the best articles about joggling. She even managed to reach fellow jogglers Zach Warren in Afghanistan and Richard Ross in the Central African Republic, and quoted joggler Chris Pert's blog calling the NYC ban "the biggest bummer in joggling history." (Sports columnist Tab Bamford replied on Twitter that "no I'm pretty sure its invention was the biggest bummer in joggling history," to which I say "Hahaha ... screw you." It always makes me laugh when football, baseball, basketball and hockey fans put down other sports, but I'll save that one for another post.)
On marathon day,  I was amazed how many people recognized me without my beanbags. A bunch of runners had seen the Runner's World article and said they were bummed out about the beanbag ban. And then I heard people along the course say, "There's the juggler!" or "That's the guy from the commercial!" Really a weird experience.

The best thing was that without juggling, I had my hands free to high-five all the kids along the course. Since I wasn't going for a record or a personal best, I took the time to high-five hundreds of kids, and also made sure to look around and enjoy the course through all five boroughs of NYC. What a race. 

I finished in 2:51, a minute slower than my joggling marathon world record, for 45th in my age group and 332nd overall. Maybe the juggling helps me run faster now? I made it back to Central Park just in time to see Dianne finish.

When you're in the New York Times, you need to get photo evidence. Love the headline in the print edition: "With Juggling Ban, Only Things Being Aired Are Grievances."

I was thinking of going after my record at joggler-friendly race in early 2016 and got official joggling approval from the good people at the L.A. Marathon and Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, but it looks like I'll be delaying the attempt until the fall. I heard back from the Chicago Marathon and they gave the joggling thumbs-up. It's almost a year away and I'm already excited. 

Hopefully NYC reverses its ban on joggling in light of the uproar. If not, it's heartening to see that at least the other major marathons are not following suit.

When is on your side, you know the future is bright for your sport.
Dianne looking way too fresh after the finish.