The day of the race was dark and damp. Dawn barely cracked open her eyes as we mustered our way toward the village of Bath. Dense fog from the mountains rolled onto the highway, only 100 feet or so in front of us was visible in pitch black dawn.
Onwards to Geneva Street, we found Phillips Glass (after a few roundabouts unsure why Google map kept saying it was at the Family Dollar store) where several runners were prepping and boarding buses. A half marathon and a full marathon bus were carting off loads of runners to their starting point.
Dawn finally awoke through the valley of the mountains, thick mist swirling around the base like a witch’s cauldron boiling from the heat of the fire, smoke and spells slithering towards mere mortals.
After dropping off my boyfriend, I nervously drove through the highway towards the finish line at Corning. I don’t normally drive so anxiety and fear of crashing a rented car filled me. It was a quiet drive on the highway, few cars were seen. On the final exit onto Corning, a pea soup fog enveloped me. A car parked on the side of the highway seemed to have the better idea, which is to wait it out. I drove straight into the soup where visibility was less than 20 feet. But a few minutes in, the fog lifted and the exit showed up, leading me straight by Corning glass museum.
While the day before, parking was easy to find, the day of the race, many lots were full or required a permit. I was glad I left early to find a spot behind the Radisson Hotel.
The marathon ends at the Centerway Square, runners coming from from west Market Street. Locals and friends gather at the end where guard rails are put up, an inflated awning lifted above the finish line.
The half marathoners were trickling slowly by 9AM, watchers clapping and cheering. I made my way down looking for a coffee shop that served outside but to no avail. A local told me to try out the Soul Full Cup and told me to just carry my dog inside. They are nice, he said. Sure enough, as I waited in line to order my pumpkin latte, they didn’t even say a word with Ker Ai on my arm. I got my latte, pumpkin bread and biscotti and sat outside where a small table was empty. Ker Ai was overwhelmed by people and noise that he settled on my lap and just watched quietly, until random dogs passed by and he would bark at them.
Some of the viewers don’t have any friends or family running but they are out cheering, it is a sense of community and local enthusiasm that brings them out. Cowbells and clapping, cheering and whistles.
An hour shy of noon, the sun shines through still heavily looming clouds, threatening to wash out the street with its load of water. Many half marathoners were walking, limping to the finish line as the 3:00 marathoners were pushing through.
Minutes before noon came around, the sun trying hard to tear through the clouds, sending a wash of heat through the impalpable humidity, my boyfriend chugs down Market Street with a look of agony. I wound my way to the actual finish line to pick him up and we found our way to the car with him trailing behind like a walking dead.
The drive to the city was as dull as the drive to Corning, except we got caught in a very scary fog, a car accident at one of the exit, as I decided it was time for me to stop driving. I’ve never driven into the city and was annoyed, frustrated, and in disbelief the chaos and madness of Holland Tunnel. Needless to say, we will never drive through New Jersey to get home again.
Overall, Corning is a beautiful town. I wish we could have spent more time on the wine trails and wineries but aside from that, the town offered a few dog friendly venue and strolls.