The runners gather at the starting line each morning for a few moments of silent reflection before the day begins. Vasu, with the backpack, just arrived and is rushing to get ready.
On the first day of this year's race, several hours in, Vasu stopped mid-block to speak to me just as I was leaving. In Russian-tinged English, he started saying something about my mother, and I thought he must have had me confused with someone else, because how would he know my mother? Then I remembered that my parents had visited New York last summer and we had stopped by the race, although it was only for a few minutes. But it was apparently long enough to make an impression. Vasu went on to tell me that my mom has a beautiful smile, and that he still remembers it all this time later. He just wanted to let me know, and then he kept running.