A New Perspective on NYC

2016 Marathon Weekend

This past November we launched RUNAWAYS: New York City. A field guide that introduced you to our #SauconyRacing athletes Molly HuddleTim Ritchie and #FindYourStrongTeam Ambassador Michelle Gonzalez. We shared some tips on how to navigate The Concrete Jungle just in time for The Marathon Weekend as well as the design inspiration behind our NYC Triumph ISO 3 and Kinvara 7. We also ran a social media contest on our Instagram where you and a running buddy could win a free FlyNYON helicopter flight over NYC during The Marathon Weekend.

Here's what our winners, Tracy Dungo & Sara Bryant, had to say about their epic Saucony + FlyNYON experience.

Tracy Dungo

New York based yoga enthusiast, runner, and pineapple addict. A traveling photographer, writer and founder of lifestyle brand, Kalaki Riot. She's currently resides in midtown with her husband, John. 

I’ve had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. My mom was always the “designated photo-taker” for our extended family on trips and gatherings, a role I naturally assumed with my own friends growing up. From my very first disposable camera to my mom’s vintage Nikon that I learned how to shoot film on, to my present-day gear, I have thousands of photos to my name. And as a moment-based photographer, I am keen on capturing memories driven by adventure and spontaneity – the kinds of stories that people will undoubtedly look back on and say, “those were the good old days.”

So when Saucony and FlyNYON said they would be sending my friend Sara and me on an aerial photo shoot over NYC during marathon weekend, we didn’t believe it at first. The weekend was already shaping up to be a memorable one with Sara running the NYC Marathon for the second time and on the heels of completing her first triathlon season ever. And I had never done aerial photography before. But by the week’s end, we would be outfitted in new Saucony running gear and boarding one of FlyNYON’s helicopters for their signature ride over Manhattan.

We arrived at the FlyNyon hangar in Kearny, NJ buzzing on adrenaline. 

Pre-flight prep didn’t take long to complete at all – once we filled out the necessary paperwork, watched the safety video, and discussed everyone’s must-have shots so the pilot could put together a route for the ride, it was time to get suited up. Lens caps came off, pockets were emptied, mobile phones were mounted, and we all slipped into harnesses before the team drove us to the helipad to get strapped in and ready for takeoff.

I’ve only been in a helicopter twice in my life and both had doors. The FlyNYON choppers are completely open, making their photo experience impossible to forget. Everything (including our bodies) were tethered in for the ride so if heights aren’t your thing (like they aren’t for Sara), rest assured that your only worry should be what shot to take next.

We covered a lot of ground in our 30 minute ride and I felt like I had unlocked an entirely new way to see the world as we hovered over buildings that we see every day. We flew over Lady Liberty, got a straight-on view of the southern tip of Manhattan (also referred to as the “money shot”), visited the Freedom Tower, and worked our way up north towards Central Park. Our pilot approached each landmark so one side of the helicopter could photograph it, and then would come back around so the other side to get their shots in as well. This made it easy to play around with point of view - you could shoot one scene in so many different ways with the helicopter creating different angles for its riders. Whether you were looking up at the building, down on it, or zooming in on a specific detail, the images were all remarkably unique to one another, revealing different parts of the same experience.

While it was easy to focus on the landmark we set out to photograph, there were also countless details that made up the trip. By our flight time at 3pm, the lighting could not have been better. And I was always on the look out for color combinations, textures, symmetry and patterns, craning my neck to make sure I didn’t miss a thing.

As we descended onto the helipad, our perspective shifted and the New York skyline became familiar to us once again. It’s easy to take this great city for granted; there are few things that surprise us anymore. So thank you, Saucony and FlyNYON, for letting me cross something off my bucket list that I didn’t even know I had on there. Filing this experience away under Good Days indeed.

Sara Bryant

Running enthusiast, budding triathlete and lover of all things tropical. A Southern California native, Sara now resides in Chelsea, Manhattan where she spends her free time on her bike, hanging with friends or searching for the best avocado toast in the city.

I never considered myself a runner. I ran track and cross-country in high school, but they were always means to an end for me – in my mind, I didn’t run for the sport of running, but rather to give me an extra boost on the soccer field. My relationship with the sport slowly faded once I got to college and it wasn’t until my first 10k several years later – my first real “recreational” running experience – that I actually enjoyed it for what it is.

That 10k quickly turned into numerous 5k’s and 10k’s, half-a-dozen half marathons, and eventually two New York City marathons. But I wasn’t always consistent; my running came and went over the years. Even when I decided to enter the lottery for the 2016 NYC marathon, I don’t know if I could run 3 miles without walking at that point. But I knew that I wanted to be in “marathon shape” again, when running 10 miles seemed like nothing. The only way I was going to get there was by signing up. To my surprise, I got in.

2016 was already a busy one for me with athletic commitments. I dove head first into my first triathlon season and at the end of it, wound up with an IT band injury for most of September. This left me with only six weeks to focus on my marathon training, and I knew I had to be as efficient and disciplined as possible. I was regimented with tempo runs, speed/hill work, long slow distance runs, and chat pace runs to log miles. I also incorporated a runner specific strengthening routine focusing primarily on my glutes, hip abductors and core – your true running powerhouse.

When October 30th rolled around, it was all done. The training was set and it was time to taper, which can be just as challenging as your longest runs. By that point, you have been logging so many miles each week, it’s as though your body starts to go through withdrawal from not running. But my training had gone well and my excitement for the race was at an all-time high. That is until my friend Tracy told me Saucony and FlyNYON would be sending us on a helicopter tour of NYC – it could not have been a more perfect start to marathon weekend.

A helicopter virgin and slightly (ok, very) afraid of heights, I was bursting with nervous excitement. 

We suited up in our new Saucony gear and were strapped into the (door-less) helicopter. The 30min flight took us on an aerial tour of Manhattan, in what I can only describe as a surreal experience. As we flew over Central Park, I looked down at the marathon finish and quietly visualized myself crossing that line Sunday afternoon.

Marathon morning came, and I woke up eerily well-rested. It was a completely different feeling from my first marathon, when I could barely eat or sleep the night before. I texted my friend out of tiny concern – was there something wrong if I wasn’t feeling nervous? I guess this time around, I knew I was ready.

I met up with my friends and headed over to Staten Island bright and early. Aside from the 50,000 other runners, it felt like any other day – as if we were all about to go on another casual training run together. It wasn’t until we made it through the corrals to the starting line that reality set in; I heard “New York, New York” blare over the speakers and a wave of excitement engulfed me. 

Gifted with perfect weather and conditions, I had a great race and hit my goal of a sub-3:35 marathon, a Boston Marathon qualifying time and a PR of nearly 25 min.

Despite my reduced training schedule, I maintained a pace that kept a smile on my face the entire time (though a slightly less enthusiastic one after mile 23). After crossing the finish line, and replenishing my electrolytes, all I could think of was doing it again – something I never thought I’d actually consider.

The following week, I signed up for guaranteed entry in the Chicago marathon. I decided to set a new (lifetime) goal for myself and complete all six World Majors (New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin and Tokyo). With New York now twice under my belt, I have five more to go. I have no doubt that each experience will be a special and memorable one. But it’s true what they say about New York – this marathon is a race like no other. The course takes you through all five boroughs of Manhattan, over five bridges and finishes in the iconic Central Park. There are a million things that make this race special, but for me, it is the crowds. For 26.2 miles, you feel like a celebrity with adoring fans calling out your name as you make your way through the course.

New York isn’t always a friendly place; it is a city where some go for anonymity, to be lost in a sea of people moving through life at an accelerated pace. But not on marathon Sunday; that’s when the city seems to come together, lining the streets in support of each other.