Marathon Fever Hits the Big Apple This Fall


Millions of tourists come to New York City year-round to take in the sights and bask in the culture. But come Nov. 7, 2010, millions will gather with one major purpose: to see and participate in one of the city’ greatest annual traditions, the ING New York City Marathon.

Established in 1970 by the New York Road Runners (NYRR), the ING New York City Marathon is run annually on the first Sunday in November.

Last year, the marathon had over 38,000 finishers. With two million spectators along the route, and a worldwide television audience of 315 million people, it was the largest one-day live sporting event in the history.

The 26.2 mile course spans the five boroughs from Staten Island to Manhattan. The race normally begins on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island. From the bridge, the runners go another 11 miles through Brooklyn.

The halfway point of the race, at 13.1 miles, is the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City, Queens. After another two-and-a-half miles in Queens, participants cross the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Once in Manhattan, they take a long northern route to the Bronx. The last mile of the race is along Central Park South towards Columbus Circle. Here, many spectators can give final encouraging cheers to the runners. After this grueling and exhausting run, the race ends outside the Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

The ING New York City Marathon is held annually by the NYRR for the purpose of promoting the sport of distance running to everyday people. The organization hopes this will help the public by enhancing fitness and improving individual well-being. Aside from amateur runners, the marathon also consists of professional runners. Often called the “elite” runners, they normally run in the marathon to practice for the Olympics or other worldwide competitions.

However, not everyone “runs” the marathon. In 2002, wheelchair and handcycle divisions were established for those who were disabled, but still wanted to “run” the race. In this division, endurance and stamina still matter, but it focuses on upper body stamina rather than leg stamina.

Last year there were many surprising victors in the marathon. The winner in the men’s elite race was Meb Keflezighi of the United States, with a time of 2:09:15. He was the first man from the U.S. to win the marathon since 1982. This year he is defending his title. The elite women’s winner was Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia, with a time of 2:28:52. She was the first Ethiopian woman to win the marathon.

If you are interested in running the ING New York Marathon next year there are many ways to so, but entry is not always guaranteed. Anyone can apply to run, but they must be picked at a lottery drawing.

There are over 100,000 applicants each year, but only about 35,000 amateur runners are accepted through the lottery. However, you can avoid the lottery and be guaranteed entry into the marathon if you run for charity. Julia McKinnis, FCLC ’14, is currently training for next year’s marathon. “I love running; I always have,” McKinnis said. “I had a friend last year who died of Leukemia, so I thought that I would run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I think it’s really cool that you get the chance to run through all five boroughs. It’s the experience of a lifetime and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The ING New York City Marathon is sure to draw millions of spectators citywide, as well as worldwide, when runners from all walks of life gather at the starting line. The three-time Emmy award-winning coverage begins Nov. 7 at 9 a.m. on WNBC 4.