Pam Miles, events coordinator for Grassroot Soccer, reflects on how the NYC Marathon changes lives.

Any marathon brings with it a host of uncertainties: Did I train enough or too much, how will I feel, what will the weather be, did I bring the right food, wear the right clothes, eat the right breakfast, get enough sleep? But one thing is certain about the TCS New York City Marathon and it is expressed in this year’s event campaign slogan: It Will Move You. The world’s largest marathon means people from all over the world, many wearing their country colors loudly and proudly, joining together to support each other over 26.2 exhilarating but sometimes painful miles. The experience is moving no matter your background, physical ability, age, nationality, race, religion, or gender identity.

Our pre-race dinner on Saturday night at Pera Brasserie was a microcosm of the larger marathon as this year’s Grassroot Soccer team brought together runners from Switzerland, The Netherlands, England, Dubai, Mexico, Canada and the United States. We had seasoned veterans and first-time marathoners, all full of nerves and excitement sharing stories of training ups and downs as well as marathon tips and tricks. As the bus full of sleepy runners departed for the race village at 5:45 am, the weather forecast was cloudy and mild with a chance of light rain. The chance of rain turned into a steady but tolerable mist for most of the day. Our first runner blazed through the finish with a time of 2:55 and our last runner came through many hours later, but every single one of the 43 runners on Team Grassroot Soccer crossed the finish line in Central Park. A bunch of hearty souls even had enough energy to gather to celebrate on Sunday night at The Jeffrey, which was a great opportunity to reflect on the race, share a toast and bask in the glow of what was for all a challenging, exhausting, but genuinely joyful experience.

This note from one of our runners is what it’s all about: “I’m still in disbelief that I did it—seriously, I never thought I would run a marathon, let alone the NYC Marathon, and do it for a cause I care so much about. I am still feeling inspired by all of the other runners I saw on race day. The NYC crowd was surreal. It was a life-changing experience running with 50,000 other people pushing themselves to their limits. Makes me want to cry a bit thinking about it. Is it strange that I feel sad it’s over?”

This year’s marathon will bring in well over $180,000 and enable Grassroot Soccer to connect more than 7,000 at-risk youth with the mentors, information, and health services they need to thrive and become agents of change in their communities.