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This past Sunday was the 52nd iteration of the New York Marathon, and it was enormous — 51,402 finishers, with 148 countries represented. It was the third-largest marathon in the city’s history, easily the biggest marathon of 2023.
Naturally, the fits were all over the place. Runners charged through the five boroughs wearing charity tees, upstart labels, national flags, and in one particularly absurd case, a Mike Wazowski costume. (The runner in question stopped to shotgun a beer in Central Park. Good on ya!)
I was one of those 51,402, finishing in 2:59:09. Breaking three has me over the moon, but it was touch and go for the second half of that race; my Airpods died up near The Bronx, my calf cramps started on the 5th Ave. incline, and by the time I reached the park, celebratory chugs were the last thing on my mind. Blinking away shimmery aura, my lower half swimming in steel, I brushed against the very brink of what my body would allow. It took a final walk over the last 100 meters — seriously, like a sports movie — for me to finally cross the finish.
Still: reflecting on that race, I’m less struck by what “went wrong” after the Queensboro Bridge, than I find myself appreciative of the so many things that went right. My friends and family popped up at all the right moments, my aggressive start helped me bank some time, my Maurten gel strategy worked. And crucially, my race day fit had me feeling confident and comfortable.
I ran in On’s Cloudboom Echo 3s, their fastest road race shoe, and a collection of the Swiss brand’s latest apparel and accessories. As much as running rewards physical training and mental conditioning, an entire race can be thrown off its axis by gear that just doesn’t sit right. Chafing is no laughing matter (no matter how funny it was when Andy Bernard’s nipples literally disintegrated during a 5K in The Office). Neither are shirts with poor wick, or hats that can’t handle a wind tunnel, or socks that yield mile-five blisters.
On dropped “Running” from its brand name in recent years, in an effort to diversify its long-term mission and consumer perception. It’s more of a lifestyle label these days, with crossover appeal in streetwear and a promising future in tennis. (The Roger Federer connection has helped, but On, remember, outfits US Open semi-finalist Ben Shelton.) As the brand explores new pastures, though, it’s worth mentioning that it’s running stuff has remained top-notch. That goes for the apparel, especially, which usually takes second billing to the brand’s beloved shoes.
Below, find the favorites that made up our race-day kit, plus some other wares that got me hundreds of miles of training…and all 26.2 miles on November 5th.
Cloudboom Echo 3
On Cloudboom Echo 3
I couldn’t wait to run hard in these things. I went into the marathon genuinely wondering whether (a) my tapering would work and (b) how fast the Cloudbooms were. I left happy in both departments, and the shoe, in particular, proved immaculate. It weighs less than half a pound, features a rocker carbon speedboard, plush foam and a one-piece upper that moved well with the course’s many abrupt turns. While not the flashiest feature, I also loved the laces, which had silicone inserts to keep the shoe from going undone. One less thing to worry about.
I ran past the On tent — in LIC, I want to say? — and pointed to the little decal on my chest in earnest. I’m no Hellen Obiri, but I’m proud to report the Swiss went wild. This T-shirt was everything I could’ve hoped for on that run. It’s silky to the touch, as thin as printer paper, and didn’t bother me once in the nipple (and/or armpit) regions. Like most of On’s stuff, the color really popped, too. (It’s called Creek.) This will be my running top of choice for years to come, whether I do that marathon again or not.
On Lightweight Cap
When I first got into running 15ish years ago, I got myself an orange Nike Dri-FIT cap. I loved it. It was light and breathable and served me well, but eventually its velcro gave up. On’s take is better — it’s got mesh perforations on either side, a wide bill with just the right amount of natural curve and a clever snap closure. The thing didn’t budge once during the race. (This is a good option, also, for those not totally into the five-panel cap trend that’s taken over running the last few years. I am not.)
Performance High Sock
On Performance High Sock
Are they the best running sock on the market? Tough to say. There are so many these days. Still, I really liked the temperature regulation component, and their no-slip feature — they didn’t move around at all in the Cloudbooms. They’re also quite vibey.
Other Gear That Served Us Well
Of course, it was more than just On that got me through my first marathon cycle. For one, the shorts I’m wearing in the photo above are lululemon (I’d had some great 18-milers in them, so they got the nod). I also wore a SPIbelt on race day to carry my gels and my phone, which worked like a charm.
Throughout training, I relied on a larger rotation of running apparel, plus bevy of recovery tools and toys in order to keep little micro-tears at bay. Specific products that I’d recommend? Give these a try:
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