'Parade of Nations'... when we need it most
Xs and Arrows
October 14, 2023
Many of you are aware that I continue to train for another marathon. I am taking another stab at the NYC Marathon on Nov. 5. Although I successfully completed the event last year, some injuries during training didn't make for a great finishing time, so when the rematch presented itself, I took the opportunity.
With just a handful of weeks to go, the training is winding down and for whatever reason it has been an extra-grueling endurance portion this year. Maybe it is my schedule, the inconsistent weather or other factors, but each week is hit or miss on how my body is going to react, plus at this portion of the training the mind starts to wonder if it is all worth it? I am under constant search for motivation to continue the runs, especially after completing three marathons prior, you know mentally you can do it, and physically you have enough, so making sure you don't skip training and let your mind be overconfident is another battle waging as well.
I received some assistance in that arena when I received word that I have been selected to represent the United States in the Parade of Nations the de-facto "opening ceremonies" for the NYC Marathon that takes place a few days before the race at Central Park. I had to apply for the opportunity, tell a story about why I am there and then the selections are made by the committee. Taking a look at last year's video there were probably 50 to 100 Team USA members that took part in the festivities, given several thousand Americans will run the event, getting to be a part of this event feels pretty exclusive based on those numbers.
While I will never march in an Olympics opening ceremonies, receiving the opportunity to walk with my nation's colors through Central Park as we join the multitude of other nations participating in this marathon is one that few realize. With all that is going on in this world and with the continued stress of training, the hopes are these few steps in Central Park waving Old Glory will be enough to push me through and add to what is becoming a full circle moment.
Part of the story I told on the application, was the personal connection with the route of the NYC Marathon. As the run gets to about the third or fourth mile, once you are across the Verrazzano Bridge, you run through Brooklyn, specifically Bay Ridge Brooklyn, a working-class neighborhood to this day, but also the first permanent residence inhabited by my great grandparents who made the trek from Ireland, eventually settling in that blue-collar neighborhood over 100 years ago. I get to run by their cross street, just a few blocks from the brownstone home where they started the modern-day Costelloe family in America. My recently-passed aunt was also born in that home.
While there have been many twists and turns to bring this family from Ellis Island to Brooklyn and eventually California, setting foot on that ground last year was special, and running through that neighborhood with thousands of others and peering down their block was surreal. I felt like my ancestors carried me through those miles, hopefully I get to feel that way again.
That story was enough to convince some people to put this guy from Tehachapi, California into the opening ceremonies of the 2023 NYC Marathon, and allowed him to represent his country on this stage. As I came to realize many years ago with that amazingly interesting and successful life I have lived was not supposed to happen. These things don't happen to small town kids unless the stars align and the work is done. So, add "representing the United States" to the laundry list of cool things I have had the pleasure to experience in my lifetime. While this one has cost a little more sweat and pain than the others, my hopes are that the ceremonies of Nov. 3 will provide just enough motivation to push me across that finish two days later with a little help from the aforementioned that have gone before me.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at email@example.com.