The 43rd running of the ING New York City Marathon marked the comeback of NYC’s beloved five-borough race after its cancellation last year in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The marathon’s return to the streets was greeted with joy by runners from around the world and by the people of New York, who lined the 26.2 miles across the city. The race paid tribute to the victims and heroes of Sandy, and to those affected by April’s Boston Marathon bombings.
Marcel Hug is big in Switzerland—and he’s just big. The 27-year-old from Neuenkirch has a broad back, bulging shoulders, and incredibly muscular hands—all prerequisites at his level of wheelchair racing. Hug is the reigning IPC World Championships Marathon champion, a Paralympics silver medalist, and a winner of the BMW Berlin Marathon. He even won last weekend’s prestigious Oita Marathon in Japan, defeating many passionate Japanese competitors in their home race, 2011 New York champion Masazumi Soejima among them. But aside from a distant third-place finish in 2009, five minutes behind course record-holder Kurt Fearnley of Australia, Hug had not made a name for himself in New York.
With a field of more than 50,000 starters, the ING New York City Marathon drew runners with a wide variety of reasons to run—some to chase personal-best times, some to overcome adversity, and many others to raise funds for charitable causes. More than 300 charity partners took part in this year’s marathon, with approximately 2,000 runners supporting two of the race’s largest organizations, Team for Kids and Fred’s Team.
A mix of new and experienced volunteers lined the sidewalks in Queens’ Court Square today, offering runners refreshment before the steep, and sometimes lonely, climb up the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Members of the Dutch Kills Civic Association lead the mile 15 water station in Long Island City, with volunteers from local high schools pitching in, too.
The pro field for this year’s ING New York City Marathon was arguably the strongest in event history. Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda is the current Olympic and World champion. Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia is a two-time London winner (including this year) and a former Chicago champion. Kenya’s Martin Lel had won New York twice in two tries. And yet none of them was the favorite.
This is Buzunesh Deba’s city. She lives in the Bronx. She trains in Central Park. She takes the subway to the track.
Her nationality in race results may read ETH, but the 26-year-old lives and breathes NYC.
So when Deba and her training partner, Tigist Tufa, bolted from the starting line to take an early and substantial lead in today’s ING New York City Marathon, even into a brisk headwind, it could have been the New Yorker in them coming out: bold, dramatic, maybe a bit impetuous.
The first Sunday in November is runner’s day, spectator’s day, volunteer’s day, and love of the enduring human spirit day. This year, more than any other, folks all over the course said it: “This is my favorite day of the year.”
For a few minutes in the early miles of today’s ING New York City Marathon, Tatyana McFadden had company. Just past mile 3, five-time Boston Marathon champion Wakako Tsuchida caught up to McFadden, who had blasted out to a quick early lead, and for an instant the two wheelchair stars worked together.
The ING New York City Marathon is an international spectacle that attracts runners and their families and fans from around the globe. But for thousands of local athletes and their supporters, the marathon is a local race. About a third of entrants are members of NYRR, and most of these runners reside in the tri-state area. On Marathon Sunday, they ran through the streets of their city, and their fans crowded the sidelines to cheer them on.