“Here come the runners!”
The bleacher crowd leaned forward, craning their necks.
I leaned over the curb, my fingertips touching.
My heart gave a pop when I saw his legs in the distance. I knew his stride.
The weather was just right. My uncle loved running his races in a light, misty rain and the day had given him that. But sometimes the days were sunny and he still won his races. He won so much we expected it. We’d wait for him, wondering where he was, and when we finally saw him come up over the hill, through the trees, around the corner, we’d shout, “Here comes Uncle San-dy!”
But this race was bigger. There were more people. Food carts with hot dogs and hot pretzels with big salt. My Great Aunt Mary sat on the bleachers with a blanket over her knees that shook up and down. She held a cup of cold hot cocoa and told my grandmother she needed a wine.
“Can you see him, Gert?” she kept asking.
Soon I could hear a swell of noise from the crowds down the road. I ran to find the yellow finish line.
So many adults were swarming in winter jackets and I squeezed through them and stood alone, waiting for my uncle.
Suddenly everything happened. Cameras and clapping as my uncle crossed the yellow line first and my Great Aunt Mary burst out of the jackets. She grabbed the laurel wreath from the official man and ran to my uncle with the wreath high in the air and planted it on his wet head with her two hands, crying.
In memory of my Uncle, Dr. Norbert Sander, M.D., who won the 1974 New York Marathon. To this day, he is the only New Yorker to have done so.