Peter Bell is a recreational footballer turned runner who’s officially caught the marathon bug. 41 years of age from Belfast Northern Ireland, Pete has clocked five marathons and two half marathons and won’t be stopping there. 2016 marks a special year for Pete. Two Sundays ago on the 6th November, he ran his first race outside of Ireland – the New York City Marathon. We asked Pete what it was like…
Catching the Running Bug
Hi, my name is Peter Bell. I’m a 41 year old store manager from Belfast Northern Ireland. I first started running about six years ago, primarily just to keep up some sort of fitness after I stopped playing football. And things spiralled very quickly into marathon running. My first being Belfast in 2011, which was my first competitive race.
I wanted a bit more of a challenge so when the Action Cancer Big Bus came to my work to have a talk with us, one of my colleagues let slip that I had done a bit of running. So the Action Cancer girl asked if I would consider going to New York? With very little thought I just said “Yes!” straight away. It’s a cause that means so much to me and my family, so it was a no-brainer really. It was the chance to go and run, possibly the biggest marathon in the world, which was too good a chance to turn down!
From Belfast to New York
I really didn’t know what to expect, but let me tell you, I wasn’t let down! As I arrived on race day the whole place was absolutely buzzing. I met people from France, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Japan and many other countries. I wasn’t really prepared for what awaited us at the start. We started on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Staten Island which gave us a breathtaking view of New York.
The whole experience from then on was hard to take in, as we ran through the five boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan – every street lined with thousands of people cheering and shouting words of encouragement.
On street corners, groups were playing music and singing. It was all just so surreal! The further round the course we got, the denser the crowds got and the noise was deafening. Coming up that final straight the support was amazing and really pulled me through. I crossed the finish line in 3:56:11. It was the best experience of my life and I will never forget it. I would really encourage anyone who gets the chance to give it a go as they really couldn’t fail to be impressed with the whole event and day.
For now it’s back down to earth, back to routine and normality. But I haven’t stopped on my running journey. I’ve decided on and booked my next few races, staying closer to home this time – it’s Manchester Marathon in April and Belfast again in May.
After a week off (for rest and recuperation), I’ll be back on the road again, fittingly sporting my New York themed Brooks Gray Lady shoes. A functional and wearable memento, reminding me of an epic day and opening the door to many more miles of city running! #RunHappy