SBJ/Nov. 22-28, 2010/A Day in the Life

Game day with Peter Ciaccia

The New York City Marathon has dizzying logistics: 45,000 runners, 8,000 volunteers, 26.2 miles of race course and even 1,692 portable toilets at the starting line. Peter Ciaccia, the New York Road Runners’ production and technical director, oversees it all. Armed with a walkie-talkie and 25 years of event management experience, Ciaccia’s day started at midnight Nov. 7 as he began roaming the course and attending to the race’s operations, from the micro to the macro.

Text by Fred Dreier
All photos by Shana Wittenwyler


2:30AM Soon after starting his 22-hour day, Ciaccia goes over a checklist in the Central Park command center.

2:44AM Ciaccia heads into the VIP tent inside the old Tavern on the Green restaurant to check on last-minute details for guests.

3:31AM Going over final preparations with staffers at the starting line command center on Staten Island.

4:15AM Making sure the entrance to the staging area can accommodate the crowds.

5:33AM Ciaccia discusses emergency plans with New York City Police Department, Coast Guard and New York City Fire Department officials in the unified command center.

6:18AM A quick prerace talk with NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg.

7:28AM Touring the first two miles of the course with NYRR staffer Jim Heim.

7:45AM Last-minute coordination with NYPD officials.

9:30AM The first wave of competitors starts.

9:50AM Picking up trash after the first wave has left the starting area.

10:05AM Minutes before the second wave starts, Ciaccia jots down his greeting to the runners.

10:40AM With the slip of paper still in his hand, Ciaccia watches the third wave of runners after reading his comments over the PA to them.

10:55AM Riding aboard a Coast Guard speedboat as he quickly makes the trip to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to reach the finish line before
the elite runners.

11:38AM Ciaccia checks to make sure everything is in order at the women’s finish line.

12:03PM At the women’s award ceremony with second-place finisher Shalane Flanagan (center) and Wittenberg.

1:15PM Ciaccia unwraps a stick of gum. He goes through an entire pack of gum during the day because he says it calms his nerves.

2:18PM Getting ready for the postrace concerts, Ciaccia tours the Marcus Garvey Park jazz area with Harlem Week volunteer Winston Majette.

4:54PM Taking a break from the finish line, where runners are still crossing, Ciaccia watches Chilean miner Edison Pena talk to the media at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Runners continued to cross the finish line up until the cutoff time at 7:30 p.m., and Ciaccia’s day ended around 10 p.m. at the postrace Blues Traveler concert at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom.

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