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Announcing the 2018 NY Marathon sponsorrun for Nepal Medical Aid Projects

NY Marathon 2019 Running Blind, participation through Achilles

The final one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, NY 2018 (la undécimo)

How did I get into this situation, from being an unknown recreational runner, one of a billion, to be special, have my name on the Wall of Fame of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, completing the marathons of Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York. So far around 80 Dutch runners are listed among the other 3935 world wide, see [list of all six star finishers] of which [Dutch finishers] (page is not up todate).

The six star medal of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. View from the world trade centre North (Click on pictures to enlarge them).

The Abbott World Marathon Majors “Wall of Fame” at the Expo, with 3935 names of those who completed all six September 2018.

The Abbott World Marathon Majors certificate on completing all six.

Wall of fame, Berlin 2019, 134 Dutch runners are listed.


A big thank you for all who sponsored one or more of the six runs. It all started in Boston in 2014 (3:42 h / € 1500 in donations), a very strong second run in London (3:35 h / € 3000 in donations), a reasonable third run in Tokyo (3:34 h / € 1000 in donations), skipping a pledge for donations in Berlin (3:50 h) and for the pacing run in Chicago (target 4:00 h; 4:03 h), and finally New York, my final sponsor-run, "Why run New York?"  (4:37 h / € 500 in donations). This sums up to a grand total of € 6000.

I was suppose to stop running marathons in 2012 after an easy number 5 (3:26 h) but I got urged to run Boston in 2014 because, quote: "You always ran a qualifying time around 15 minutes below the limit". So I was in the top 15% of marathon runners, prestigious. Luckily I did not have have a qualification for 2013, the year of the bombing, as I did not run a marathon in Amsterdam in 2011. The 2014 run, one year after the terrorist attack, was an emotional run.

London (3:35 h) is all about sponsoring and a logical follow up. The run was one day after the devastating 2015 earth quake in Nepal that destroyed our health post in Keronja and severely damaged our disabled women building in Kathmandu.

Next was Tokyo, as we could fly on KLM staff tickets, a dear sponsoring. After the run (3:34 h), I accidentally found out about the "big six" from a young Danish finisher ("this is a big day for me") who claimed all six that day, the 6 star marathons of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Alas, three more to go.

A warm Berlin in 2016 with severe air pollution (21 C / 3:50 h; should have worn a singlet) and even warmer Chicago (on KLM staff tickets) but with clean air (23 C / 4:03 h pacing; wearing a cool singlet) followed without a pledge for sponsoring as I wasn't sure I would make it.

The final one, New York, again a sponsor run, to close off the "4.5 year journey", is the hardest due to the 5 bridges, undulating streets and severe air pollution, and I wished it wasn't included. The target time of 4:10 h was within reach after 30 km (3:02 h) but I got overheated by a bright autumn sun in my face going South past the desolate Bronx (should have worn a singlet), so decided to do a run/walk for last 12 km with an average pace of 8 km/h (!) instead of 10.5.

Finishing was a big relief, getting the 6 star medal feels good, but way more important, the last marathon, no more the excruciating tiredness after coming home on an intercontinental flight after a marathon.

The jubilant feeling of the last marathon, "Schluss, done, fini, finito, terminado, acabado, समाप्त, 完成", lasted for several weeks and I got numerous, very positive reactions. I finished without "damage", so will be able to  “keep on running” until late in life.


It took five years to run these six enduring marathons on three continents. It all started in 2013 when an American colleague urged me to apply for Boston in 2014, "you have an excellent qualification time and I don't". In Tokyo, in 2016, I found out about the World Major Marathons, the "big six", running them all seems to be special. This was established in 2006 with Tokyo joining. Only those since 2006 are elligible.

I always encouraged my personal network to sponsor medical aid projects in Nepal as a reward for the effort. London in 2015 was only one day after the devasting 2015 earthquake and this motivated me even more.

The final one, New York, I did not realise, is by far the hardest.

Sponsor a charity project in Nepal

To celebrate the final one, you could sponsor my NY Marathon run by supporting one of the health projects in Nepal of Sponsortrek:

  1. The Disabled Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu, see [1], also damaged by the 2015 earth quake.

  2. An earthquake proof health post in the Sherpa village Gairamudi [1], being build using a using a lego system reinforced with steel rods [1], badly needed as shown by the devastating earth quake in April 2015 which destroyed many buildings. It also destroyed the health post we built in Tamang village Keronja in the late nineties.

You could donate around € 5-10 per marathon. Alternatively, you could motivate me to give around € 1 per minute below 4 hours of all six marathons. The final score went down from 75 after 5 to 38 minutes, loosing 37 minutes in New York.

Please send me an e-mail, to, if you wish to donate. You could transfer the money to:

Sponsortrek Nepal, bankaccount number NL81ABNA0861147545, Bic (swift): ABNANL2A. ABN – Amro Bank, Amsterdam.

New York Marathon, 4 November 2018

New York, the course

The marathon course has 5 bridges, many undulating streets, and only 5th Avenue is flat.

New York is built on ancient metamorphosed Appalachian rocks, covering much of NW USA and Eastern Canada, extending into the highlands of Ireland, Scotland and Norway. This is hard bedrock forming rolling hills and escarpments, with fiords or channels in between.

Central Park was left in the original topography and you don't notice the up and downs the last 5 km as you focus on the remainig distance to cover with the two final corners at 59th street.

Run New York?

"If you can complete (a satisfying) marathon in New York, you can run anywhere".

But if you got wasted, you better stop. NY attracts a lot of inexperienced runners, and as they face one of the hardest runs, they tend to get the message, never another one.

NY has no real time limit, normally around 5.5 hours. The start is between 10:00 and 11:00 h in the morning and the closing time 19:30 h, so you have 9.5 to 10.5 hours to get a medal and an official time. This is why New York attracts so many foreign runners who will only run once.


As a runner you skip the hotels in noisy Manhattan. I learned my lesson in Chicago, highrises collect the hum hum of the city, and at night, when the wind goes down, it gets even worse. The Paper Factory Hotel in Queens was excellent choice, only three stops by metro from Central Park. The only disadvantages is lack of restaurants and a park to run nearby. If you walk a km, e.g. to Astoria, there are plenty. The hotel also has a shuffle board, small iron disks you slide on a 4 m long plank. Excellent for doing a light exercise, as an alternative to using the gym. They also have metal puzzles, a brain teaser [unsolved] [solved]. We had to undo them regularly.


Focussed on a marathon, you skip most of the attractions and limit walking. Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum cannot be avoided, neither The observation floor 102 in the World Trade Centre. New York has shown that recovery from 09/11 was fast and firm.

The WTC is an impressive building but even more interesting are the amazing "whale bone" underground passages to the red and yellow metros.

It now seems earth quake and collapse proof, unlike the old WTC, which was a box of metal at the outside, with hanging floor son the inside. This was a minimalist design, but if a few floors would collapse, all could go down, as we have seen.

A walk from the WTC to Greenwich Village is in the pleasant low rise district and takes you along the municipal office China Town, Little Italy and Soho, with lots of restaurants and shops.

The terrace on the lake in Central Park is very busy but one one of few places in New York without the hum hum of traffic noise. Even in November you could sit outside.

In New York you are always 1 meter away from a rat, is a famous saying. Could be true, in the sewage system and we spotted a rat in Central park hiding in the bushes but the garbage dump was irresistable.

Last but not least you should visit the Dakota Building [1] [2] on Central Park, not accessible but very different, and a memorial.

The start of the run

Staten Island in the far South, is the start of the run. A private bus picked us up at 6:00 h but luckily the time shifted back to winter time so we had an extra hour. It is a one hour ride, longer because of the many busses dropping of runners. At 7:00 h it was already busy. Our start time was at 9:50 h.

There are three start and refreshment areas, orange, blue and green. Waiting for the toilets and dropping of the bags killed some time.

We were prepared for the 8 Celsius morning in the shade, fully dressed with old clothes, a yoga mat to sit on and a small fleece blanket, both from the 37th street K-mart, near Macy's. We found a spot welcomed by the warm sun rise but at 9:00 h had to line up in the start area, but again we found some sun. In the shade, it was "nippy", as my former Canadian students from the 80's would say.

The run

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge covers the first 3 km, a 50 m high six-lane bridge with fantastic views at Manhattan, a photo spot, but also the first leg demolition, still barely noticeable.

The 26 km to Manhattan is a long run through the residential area of Brooklyn, with undulating streets, the second demolition.
Crossing into Queen on the low Pulaski Bridge, we finally covered some distance.

"Last Gatorade to the bridge", thanks for the warning, I found out later, this was the killer bridge, the Queensboro Bridge. An seemingling endless incline, 25 km point on top of the bridge.

This is normally the distance when you get restless, why is a marathon not 30 km, but 42 km. Simple, 30 km is too short, anyone can cover this distance but not 42. Very few of us have the stamina to run easily beyond 30 km, and we all suffer. This limits the number of participants.

Past the bridge one runner was down, being picked up by an ambulance.

Entering 1st Avenue is unreal, suddenly you are among the high rises and looking at a very long, again undulating wide road.

Rob and other guides of TUI would be there to take photographs and we did find them spotting the blue flag. Will be waiting for some good pictures.

Around 32 km is the Willis Avenue Bridge, a very long incline, so I decided to safe energy and walk to the top. So be it. Safe energy.

In the mean time, we have been running in a bright sun in North-South running streets, burning on my bald head. Crossing the Bronx and back into Manhattan, at around 35 km, ging South, I got blinded by the sun and have an alarming, uncomfortable warm head. Again I decided to walk. I did not want to be the only man having a heat stroke (women is more common),and carried off. Image you faint at 40 km and resist being put in an ambulance.

"My six start medal is at the finish, I am nearly there". "No honey, we are taking you to the hospital, just lie down”. "But, but .....(fainting again and waking up in the hospital 2 hours later)".

For the next 5 km I did a safe run - walk. Our projected time of 4:10 h would be easily overrun, but at 35 km, it is only an extra 45 minutes, so we would finish below 5 hours, the cut-off time to get into the NY Times. Uphill and in the sun I would walk and downhill run as the walk cooled me down quickly, a good sigm. I felt cold in the 11 Celsius shade.

We spotted the TUI supporters again at 40 km and being rested from the 30 min. run-walk, displayed a relaxed running style. Most walkers were now running again in the cool shade of 59th Street Avenue. I did well, fully cooled down and recovered.

The last km North in the park I passed a 6 star runner from China, the only one I noticed. We finished together and got our NY medal.

The finish, receiving the 6 star medal

Six star medal

Abbott pictures at the finish

Judy and others of the Abbott World Marathon Majors were just behind the finish. She had a two page sheet with around 100 names. Got my big medal and three pictures were taken.

Past the finish.

The bag area was another km, and wearing two heavy metal medals, I sounded like a Swiss cow in the mountains.

Back of my shirt

Wearing the six star logo on my back of my shirt during the run I got many compliments for running the sixth marathon and again past the finish. Many runners were looking at the medal with surprise. We met a German woman who also completed the sixth, but otherwise none, only ~0.2% earned this medal today I estimate from the two page sheet with names. In the metro going home, wearing the medal, I got even more compliments.

Final score, 3 toe blisters but luckily no nail blister, I thought, and a 4 x 1 cm foot blister, just below the foot ball, which made itself known past 18 km on down hill stretches. A week later, two red nail blisters appeared slowly, these nails will fall off but come back nicely.


La undécimo and final world marathon. Is running the Abbott World Marathon Majors this a special experience?

Yes, go for it, but only if you know you can do it, don't force it, I prefer to run on physical shape, not character. Start with Boston or New York. "Old soldiers never die. They just fade away".

As of September 2018, only 3935 runners completed all six, 80 from the Netherlands. More climbers reach Mount Everest, around 5500 as of November 2018.

How to run many marathons?

A common question I got how I managed to run 11 marathons without significant injuries. The answer is simple, 40 years of training and be modest in your running speed.

Firstly, be an active youth doing sports or agricultural summer jobs in the field like "picking strawberries". Continue with sports until you are 40 or 50, anything goes. Then start running, provided your legs and feet are positioned as nature planned them.

One important tip is short runs of 3 km five times weeks for a long period, accelerating from 70% to 100% effort, the last 500 m. I did them for ten years, running the 3 km in 12:30 minutes after aerobic exercises, popular in the 80s and 90s.

I also did eleven 2-3-month expeditions in Canada into the wild in the 80s, many mountains trips, esp. in Nepal in the 90s and 00s, where I discovered I could walk relatively easily above 5000 m, and finally 3 times a week a fun run of up to 8 km in the 00s and 10s.

But, more important, overcome your injuries.

End of August 2012 I had a sensitive Achilles tendon after a hiking trip in Northern Norway wearing old hiking boots that rubbed against am Achilles tendon. With the upcoming Amsterdam marathon on the 20th of October I had no choice but to take a 1-month rest and late September I started running again. I did only 3, 5 and 6 km runs, 6 times a week for three weeks, the tendon healed but also I was fully rested.

I never ran an easier marathon in a good time, 3:26 h, and now I knew: frequency and rest is way more important than distance. In fact, distance may "kill you". When doing a short run, your muscles are fully "repaired" (the microcracks) within 24 hours, when doing 10+ km runs, they are not.

In 2016, again during a mountain trip, this time in Southern Spain on rough limestone in June, a sensitive tendon below my left foot for the last year suddenly got very painful. My very comfortable hiking boots had B soles, not C as required for the rocky limestone terrain. The tendon remained sensitive for three months, right up to the Berlin marathon on 25 September, and I did very little running. 

A week before the run I discovered that the standard Asics insoles were way too soft  since around 2015 and they got softer by the year, as liked by the "customers", non-runners and likely overweight. 

I replaced them with the sturdy blue "Superfeet" insoles, just 40 Euros, and now I had a proper base again, avoiding the tendons were on a too soft cushion.

I did hardly any training, not even the last 3 weeks before the marathon and this was a risk, as I found out. The first half of the marathon was fine, normal pace (1:44 h) but I totally overheated during the second half in the 21 C weather. I was wearing a T-shirt instead of the mandatory singlet which is much cooler. After the run the tendon was even less sensitive!

Small injuries are common as running is hard on the legs, feet and even the back, but there is a solution.

At a later age you should never follow the typical marathon schemes on the misleading social media or running magazines, your fastest pace is already cast in stone. Improving your speed is for young people who want to improve their personal record, and are most likely to get permanent injuries early as they run on "character".

As a marathon preparation, run 3, 5, 6 or 8 km, a few times a week, increase this to 6 times a week 4-5 week before the marathon day and do almost nothing the last week.

You could try another 15, 16 or 21 km run once a year as a test, but you should come out clean and if not, don't even try a marathon, a marathon starts at 30 km, here you are half way.

Only once a year you should run past 21 km, your marathon day. Don't waste your energy on a 30 km training run. So, "less is more".

A typical marathon runner also has good lungs, you don't hear them breathing during the run, and if you hear someone before the 30 km point, you wonder, "what are you doing here?".

If you can walk 7 times a week 6 km, you can also walk 42 km in one day but you will be tired. Same applies to running.

I am always amazed by runners who do the marathon in 5 or 6 hours, my distance would then be around 55-65 km, I would break down.

Fit runners should be able to do the marathon in 4:00 h (for men) to 4:15 h (for women). Beyond this, you shouldn't have started and likely never to try this again. 

If you want to complete the six-star Abbott World Marathon Majors in 5 years, ( I did them in this order, Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York) start with getting a qualifying time for Boston. If you do not get into Boston, don’t even start.

Age group and limit (hours)

18-34: 3:00

35-39: 3:05

40-44: 3:10 

45-49: 3:20

50-54: 3:25

55-59: 3:35 

60-65: 3:50 

66-70: 4:05

Boston marathon cut-off time for the men's age groups (minus 1-2 min. when there are too many participants), went down by 5 minutes since 2014. For women, 30 minutes more.

Other pictures: the run, etc.

BIB number

Happy run-walker, 6.5 hours

Henk and Jean on 1st Avenue, 26 km, seemingly happy, photo by TUI.


Henk, beat me by 2 seconds


Feast meal at a Greek restaurant in Astoria, Queens. Gemuse, fisch und Santorini wein.

Garmin recorded route

Stats per km. Last km past the finish.

Profiles: elevation, min/km, heart rate, and steps per minute.

The six shirts and medals, it all started in Boston in 2014.

Abbott website to register your runs.

The six runs.

The six medals and summary medal.

Running shoes in Chicago and New York: Asics Metarun.

NASA foam and 90% down pillow. Bit over the top but it does sleep well.

Runners Aura, euforic state, entering runners Nirwana, after completing the big six.

Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott World Marathons Majors)

Below 3.5 hours, I qualified for the Boston Marathon entry in the male age group 50+. Boston is a prestigious run as only 15% of marathon runners qualify.

With the Boston marathon, I entered the Abbott World Marathon Majors league established in 2006 when Tokyo joined.

With four runs outside Europe, the costs are high but, luckily, KLM always sponsored 80% of the air travel.

See blogs below for 5 of the 6 Abbott World Marathons Majors:

My five previous results of the Abbott World Marathon Majors

Up to New York the grand total of runners who completed all six is 3935 runners. Some 100 Dutch runners ran all six. They are listed in the so-called “wall of fame”, advertised on boards during a marathon expo.

Wall of Fame

Go for it, Henk is about to get number 3 of 6.

Wall of Fame, New York 2018, around 100 Dutch runners are listed.

Wall of fame, Berlin 2019, 134 Dutch runners are listed.

We reported to Judy at the counter.


New York Marathon, personal pictures

Henk at the Expo

Antoinetta at the expo, our names

Still happy

Still happy

Running with a Dutch girl.

Wearing down

First walk at the bridge at 32 km, at the Willis Avenue Bridge.

Overheated at 5th avenue.

Finish Henk and Jean in Central Park, a walz.

Finish Henk and Jean

Finish Antoinetta

New York Marathon, the course from ABC


Start at Staten Island

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and the first 10 km in Brooklyn.

The killer bridge at 25 km, the Quuesboro Bridge

One runner was down at this point, the cart picked her up and took her to the hospital.

1st Avenue

The Bronx, “almost got killed” by overheating.

Finish in Central Park

Finish in Central Park

Listing in the New York Times

Henk, nr. 28359; Jean, nr. 28373; no listing beyond 5 hours.