Musical boost for LIC runners

The start of the Queens portion of the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday looked like a tale of two races.
Runners turning the corner of 48th Avenue onto Vernon Boulevard were greeted by a large, cheering and sign-waving crowd. As the marathoners headed north on Vernon, near the 14-mile mark, however, the throng thinned.
Cups from a nearby Gatorade station littered the street. Some runners were now walking, and breathing heavily. And worse, they were cold, with the shade from nearby industrial buildings bringing an unwanted chill.
But there was one thing this dingy side of the street had that the bustling intersection at 48th didn’t: the William Cullen Bryant High School jazz band.
For the last five years, Eric Teichman, 26, has been the band director for W.C. Bryant High School, and for five years he’s been coming out with his jazz band to give exhausted marathoners a musical boost.
“We like to help motivate the runners,” Teichman said, “to be part of the community helping support the marathon.”
The jazz band performs songs by artists ranging from Earth, Wind & Fire to Led Zeppelin, to Usher and Black Sabbath. A favorite of marathoners is the classic surf song, “Tequila.”
“People run by us and yell ‘Tequila!’” Teichman said. “Maybe they’re thinking of the celebration afterwards.”
Musicians from the Long Island City school began playing the marathon long before Teichman took over as band director, fresh from NYU’s music education program.
Last year, the band was invited to play on a stage at Court Square, but had to compete with other musical acts and a DJ. So this year, the young musicians were glad to move back to Vernon Boulevard, between 45th Road and 45th Avenue, where they closely interact with the runners.
“It’s awesome, I like the energy,” said alto saxophonist Michelle Garcia, 17. “People are really inspirational.”
Garcia also enjoys some of the runners’ more outlandish displays of creativity.
“There was one guy dressed as a huge Empire State Building thing,” she said. “I don’t know if he lasted very long.”
First-timer Lemuel Hackshaw, 16, loves the runners’ enthusiasm.
“They’re getting hyped, getting into it,” Hackshaw, a saxophonist, said. “A couple of guys came by and started dancing.”
Band members relayed their own favorite moments of the marathon – the woman who ran dressed as Minnie Mouse; the man who passed by in only a cape and a set of Superman skivvies and the marathoner who ran the entire race while juggling.

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