Diocesan priest finishes his 23rd New York City Marathon Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Fr. Dale Grubba, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

grubba marathon
Fr. Dale Grubba, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, competes in the recent New York City Marathon in a handcycle. This was his 23rd New York City Marathon, one of 63 marathons he has completed so far. He ran the New York event 18 times before switching to a handcycle. (Contributed photo)

Editor’s note: Fr. Dale Grubba, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, is pastor of St. James Parish, Neshkoro, and St. John the Baptist Parish, Princeton. He recently completed his 23rd New York City Marathon, this year competing with a handcycle. Father Grubba has finished a total of 63 marathons so far both running and using a handcycle, including running 18 times in the New York City Marathon.

This was my 23rd New York City Marathon, but it is the one I will remember forever. After picking up my race number on Friday and dropping off my handcycle at the Achilles Track Club for its transportation to the starting line, I took the Brooklyn Literary Pub Crawl.

The walking tour takes in the homes of many of the early writers and poets of an earlier era, i.e., Dylan Thomas, e.e. cummings, O. Henry, and Jack Kerouac.

Runners Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Saturday afternoon will always be remembered for concelebrating the “Runners Mass” at 5:30 p.m. in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. What an experience! There were over 2,400 people present.

It is quite a sight to be standing behind the altar and saying the Eucharistic Prayer as you take in the vast crowd. After Mass, Msgr. Robert Ritchie, the rector of the cathedral and running the marathon for the third time, invited all runners to come up into the sanctuary for a special blessing.

The other priest marathon participants and myself were invited to walk among the crowd sprinkling them with Holy Water.

Race day

Sunday was race day which means getting up at 3 a.m. and catching special buses that take participants to the starting line. It is quite a spectacle as there were over 52,000 runners, 50 wheelchair racers, and 52 handcycle participants.

Handcyclists have their own gathering place before the race. At the appropriate time, we are escorted to the starting line on the Verrazano Bridge.

I had a great race. The adrenalin started flowing when I caught and passed five other handcyclists at the eight-mile mark.

It is a challenging course, and with four miles to go, I was spent. I finished 28th out of 52. I was 10 years older than any of my competition.

Another highlight

Monday had another highlight in store for me. I went back to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to pray and thank God for a good race in a chapel behind the main altar. When I did, God gifted me with entering into a depth of prayer and concentration that was unbelievable. It was like I was in an entirely different mental zone.

I think part of it was due to the fact that I had concentrated so hard the day before on racing well that I had pushed every distraction aside, and I approached Monday’s prayer in that continued state of mind, a blank mind waiting to be filled with prayer.

It was a weekend to be remembered.


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