This past Sunday, my sisters and I participated in the Tunnel to Tower 5K to benefit the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation.
The cause and the reason for the race is amazing. The race honors Stephen Siller who was a firefighter who had just gotten off of work on 9/11. When the events happened, he tried to drive back into the city from Brooklyn to help. The tunnel was closed already so he strapped on 60 lbs of gear and ran through the tunnel. He passed away there (unclear where, possibly in the south tower). So the race has you "follow in his footsteps.” The course has you go through the tunnel and enter into Manhattan. Then there is about a mile more around lower Manhattan until you reach the finish line. It is listed as a 5K but the course is actually about 3.6 miles.
During the race, there was a lot of firemen who did the race in full gear. When you come out of the tunnel, there were West Point cadets holding flags on one side and firemen in dress uniforms each wearing a banner with a full photo of a firefighter who died on 9/11. There was a lot of chanting "USA" and good energy during the race. I loved all that.
Now, if I just focus on it as a race, there were some issues. Yes, it was over 25,000 participants so that isn't easy to manage. They did corrals A-G. I was in B but my sisters were walking only and they were in G so I stayed with them. For security, you weren't allowed any bags or water bottles at all. We had to arrive at 6:30 to take a ferry from Manhattan to the start in Brooklyn. That went well and was very organized. But then of course the race doesn’t start until 9:30.. and our corral didn't start until 10:20... so like runDisney races, a lot of waiting.. but with no water or port a potties around...
When we came through the tunnel after 2 miles, there was supposed to be water. I saw tons of empty cups all over.. but no water.. they had run out. Then as we continued, the streets were closed to traffic but part of the course went through a park which was open to the public. At times we didn't even know if we were still going the right way because there were no signs and no volunteers. A lot of the bands and cheerleaders were packing up and leaving as we came through.
And again at the finish line there was supposed to be a ton of food and water but we couldn't find it. We didn't want to walk further than we needed to because we had a mile to walk back to our car so we missed all of that.
I almost feel bad saying anything negative at all about the race because of the cause and reason we all were there. Again, I am so happy to have supported the foundation and really loved all the energy and positive spirit throughout the race. It is certainly not easy to manage that amount of participants at what is really a local 5K. I was told that the corrals were new this year due to safety concerns of previous years and I’m sure other issues will be worked out in years to come.
I will end with what I thought was the most touching moment of the whole day. As the corrals were being walked up to the start line, we pasted a Brooklyn fire department that lost 7 of its members on 9/11. In fact the street they are located on was renamed “Seven in Heaven” in their honor. Some of the current firefighters in that station were standing outside watching us walk by. All of the firemen in their full gear that were doing the race, left the corral and went to shake all of their hands. The whole crowd cheered.
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.