By Liam Godbert Brown, J-1 au pair from the United Kingdom
Liam Godbert Brown is a British university graduate who came to the United States as an au pair. He won the lottery to run in the New York City Marathon, which took place on Sunday, November 6. This is his second marathon. He ran the New Jersey Marathon this in May.
Why did you want to run the TCS New York City Marathon?
New York has been one of my favourite cities for a very long time and it’s been incredible to be living nearby for the last year. As a long time runner, I’ve always wanted to participate in races held in my favorite cities. Now that I’ve done New York I’ll have to try to compete in London.
What was it like to run in the TCS New York City Marathon?
I’ve been living in Connecticut for a year now as an au pair with Cultural Care. It’s my last week now and I’ve been looking forward to marathon day all year. I ran in the New York marathon on Sunday, and it was by far the hardest race I’ve ever run. I was recovering from an injury in my foot so I had to skip the last few weeks of my training to ensure my foot would be okay on race day. I had been looking forward to running this race all year since I found out I had a place, and before that I had been hoping to run this race for years, so there was no way I was going to let an injury ruin my race. So, my main worry on the start line was that I wouldn’t be able to finish or I would have to limp the whole distance. Luckily my foot gave me no problems and I managed to finish in 3:41:45 which I am really proud of.
How was this race different from the other races you’ve run?
I’ve participated in a bunch of races in the last few years, but I’ve never seen crowds line the entire route before. The support was overwhelming and was the best thing about the New York Marathon. It felt like each borough was trying to one-up each other and it was fantastic. When I hit the wall at mile 17 and thought I would have to stop and walk, it was the crowds that kept me going, and I somehow managed to keep running for the entire distance. My favorite sections had to be Brooklyn and the Bronx. In Brooklyn I was feeling strong and I knew some of the streets. It was really cool to see a bunch of local bands playing good music to keep the runners going. When I got to the Bronx I was absolutely shattered and I needed the support to keep me moving. The community was so welcoming and supportive.
What was it like to interact with the J-1s volunteering along the race course?
I knew that the J-1 volunteers were spread out at various water stations, but they were out in full force particularly at mile 6 and mile 18, so I was definitely looking forward to those checkpoints. Mile 18 was great because I was struggling quite a bit so the extra support was really encouraging. My Nan and my Aunt also came out to support me and they stood very close to mile 18 so the stretch up 1st avenue was definitely a highlight of the race for me.
How did this experience contribute to or enhance your J-1 Experience?
I don’t think there’s a better way to experience the American culture than running the biggest marathon in my favorite city. I met so many cool people from all over the world during the weekend and getting the chance to speak in front of all the J-1 volunteers at the welcome reception on Saturday evening at the United Nations was incredible.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share about your experience?
Overall it was a brilliant race and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I already knew I loved this city, but the marathon experience made me love it even more. It was great to see parts of the city that I wasn’t as familiar with and it was great knowing there was a load of support from the other J-1 volunteers spread out all over the course. The support of the crowd really kept me going and the other J-1s were a big part of that.
To see additional comments and photos related to the marathon, check out the #RouteJ1 hashtag on Twitter.
Categories: Program Spotlight
|About G. Kevin Saba|
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.Read More
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