Nov. 9, 2002 While Elliot McIver Davis is physically back on St. Thomas, his heart and spirit are still back in the big apple where last Sunday he completed one of his dreams, the biggie: the 26-mile New York City Marathon.
If Davis left a little of his heart and spirit in Manhattan, that's okay. He has enough heart and spirit to share. "What a fabulous experience," Davis said, "just amazing."
Davis is no newcomer to marathons. Or not exactly. He's always had a love for running, but his passion for marthons has evolved in the last couple of years.
This run had a special meaning, however. A cancer survivor from five years ago, Davis went to the states in May for his six-month check up hoping the doctors would tell him he could graduate to annual check-ups. That was not to be the case. The doctors told him the cancer had returned, though in a different part of the body.
Since that time, Davis has been to three different hospitals in the states and has undergone numerous tests, with varying diagnoses and prognoses. This has been a tough and bewildering experience for Davis and his family. However, he maintains he feels "fine." Fine enough for the New York race, which he has been training for all year.
The 50-year old blue-eyed blond-haired Davis, Justice Department solicitor general and Antilles School board chairman, got sort of hornswoggled by a couple of 20-year-olds into doing his first run, the Nashville Country Music Marathon.
Davis said he was talking with two teachers at an Antilles faculty party about running. "They invited me to join them at Nashville," he said. "I'd been what you'd call a casual runner up until then." (Davis' notion of "casual" is five or six runs a week for a total of 20 to 25 miles a regimen he took up in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.)
Davis ran in the Orlando marathon last January, along with his wife Debbie and daughter Elizabeth. But that didn't compare with New York, he said.
"It was superbly organized," he says. "There wasn't much problem finding where to go we were herded into corrals. There were 32,000 of us." And getting in the race isn't that easy, either. You have to draw lots to enter, and Davis drew the right one.
"It was kind of cold, 30 degrees to start and then up to the low 50s before the finish, but there was lots of sun," Davis said. "We went over the Verrazano Bridge, both the upper and lower levels were filled, and then, once in Brooklyn people were lined up three and four thick.
"I had my name and Virgin Islands embroidered on my shirt, and people would yell, 'Go, Mac, Go.' I thought, 'Wow.' I was delighted," he said. "Then you go over the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan. Before you got there, you could hear the roar of the crowd. From First Ave. to 59th Street. The streets were lined on both sides six to eight deep, and bands were playing. Everyone wanted to give you 'high five,' and they stuck their hands out. They'd offer you fruit and candy bars."
Davis said you couldn't get tired because "you'd hear your name continuously."
"I had two different groups of friends looking for me. One had a sign saying 'Go, Mac, Go V.I.' I had a lawyer friend from St. Thomas who came to New York just to see me run, and then my daughter's roommate and her mother were another group," he said. "They'd come just for the weekend, so that was cool, too.
"Once we got in Central Park, they were screaming bloody murder. They made such a loud roar, and then a right turn past Columbus Circle and another right turn into the park, and I looked in the bleachers wondering if I could see my family, but they were easy to spot," he says. "They were holding a five-times-seven-foot V.I. flag."
And Davis broke his previous records, shaving 26 minutes off his Nashville time, and 16 from the Orlando run, finishing in 4:38. And that included two pit stops to chat with friends. "I was so surprised and grateful," he said.
Davis' whole family enjoyed the event, too. Along with Debbie and Elizabeth, who attends Brown University, Davis' older son Joseph, also at Brown was there. So was his 11-year old son, Elliot.
"Elliot was wide-eyed at New York," Davis said, "and we got to see 'Hairspray' on Broadway." The 11-year-old was really impressed because he has informed his parents that he is going to grow up to be a movie star.
"Elizabeth was so moved by my performance and the whole experience of being at the finish line, that she wants to run a marathon with me now," Davis says.
In December, Davis will head to his doctor in Texas for more tests and a decision on which therapy to pursue. "I got a letter from him," Davis says. He had previously encouraged Davis to do the marathon. "He told me 'Words can't describe how inspired I am by your performance. Run forever.'"
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