The slap slap of rubber on asphalt was the big event in New York. The annual marathon when people who run do so en masse for the camaraderie. If you think sweat and lycra is for sharing, then you’ll like running.
Hillary Clinton has come to hate running. A race that started way way back is finally coming into the home straight and she looks exhausted. Behind her is Trump, by only one percentage point according to the latest poll yesterday.
In the course of this race, her relationship with her husband has been portrayed as victim and sexual abuser (of others), her closest aides dragged through email scandals, her personality rated the worst of any candidate.
In a desperate last push, she is campaigning in swing states trying to secure a victory that should have been secured long ago.
The Democratic campaign have a nervous confidence. The arcane complexity of the system means it’s not the total amount of votes polled, but the number of electoral colleges won, unique to each state.
In plain language, Clinton has the advantage. Even so, there is a panic in her words. She appealed to voters in Florida over the weekend saying: “Any issue you care about – anything – is at stake.”
A perfect reflection of a campaign which never identified a positive, but is likely to succeed because her rival is so antagonistic to so many.
People here talk of the election with surprise and shame. In truth it has been a predictable affair.
How Trump got so close is pretty easy to explain in hindsight. The real surprise is that nobody had the foresight to see that a rule-breaker would work in America as much as Europe. The plain-speaking man with a clear enemy and no love for the establishment is what sells – whether it’s Salmond, Farage or Trump.
The writer Gore Vidal observed years ago that no president could ever be bald – image had become too important to the political package. Trump’s extravagant efforts to disguise his baldness had the world transfixed for a long time – no gag was easier than blowing away at his comb-over. It disguised the fact that he had a real message.
Everyone knew that nobody liked politics any more. US candidates have been getting elected for decades on the pledge of representing the little guy against the might of Washington.
It was no secret that Republicans and Democrats found it harder than ever to reach agreement. Bipartisanship had withered, cut down in a hail storm of cheap insults and wilful obstructionism.
That Americans felt dislocated, left behind was also a public fact. And it is a universal truth that everybody can be racist – it’s just a question of how hard you push the button marked blame.
Trump is not even the first maverick candidate – US politics frequently throws up third candidates to upset the Democrat/Republican seesaw. Ralph Nader ran against George W Bush and Al Gore. Ross Perot tried to mix it up when Bill Clinton was running against Bush senior in 1992.
What is unusual is that the hatred of Washington politics was great enough to get a maverick on the Republican ticket. Trump is running against Clinton, the Democrat, but also his own party, the republican establishment. Again, insiders say the Republicans had it coming, a result of internal divisions and poor organisation.
Both candidates appear like parasites. Clinton for living off and in the political system for a lifetime. Trump is the parasite who succeeded in business by not paying taxes, frequently going bankrupt and openly playing the state for a sucker.
As a result, many people dislike both of them, and what it says about their country in 2016.
I covered my first presidential election in 1992. Then a different Clinton lucked his way through to the nomination. Senior Democrats didn’t bother to run, convinced that President Bush (senior) was too popular after victory in the first Gulf War to be defeated. Bill Clinton won the White House by offering a vision of change while talking about what mattered to voters – the economy.
Hillary is tarnished by her years in office. She has little vision and lacks charm needed to connect with the people. If only the Republicans had been as lucky as Democrats in 1992 – but for a bright new face they are likely to be out of the White House for another four years. That appears to be Hillary’s big break – it’s not a ringing endorsement.