Why is the New York so iconic?

The New York City Marathon is an annual marathon which courses through all the five districts of New York City (NYC). This marathon is recognised as one of the USA’s highly regarded sports activities. It is the largest marathon globally with 53,508 finishers the 2019 event. The race can be so popular, that admission to it for the general runner is usually by a lottery process with most hoping to enter missing out. A particular feature of the marathon is the nearly 2 million spectators who line the route, almost having a party to back up all the competitors and cheer them on with activities all along the coaching. The New York City Marathon is put on by the New York Road Runners and it has been run annually since 1970, apart from two years. The 2012 race was cancelled due to the flooding from Hurricane Sandy and in 2020 when it was cancelled as a result of COVID-19 crisis. The marathon normally takes place on the initial Sunday in November. The half century anniversary running of the marathon is scheduled for the 7 November 2021.

The initial event director or organizer was the late Fred Lebow who passed away in 1994. The initial run in 1970 merely had 55 runners who completed it. He then developed the NYC Marathon to progressively become the great occasion that it is. The colour, the history, the character and the power of the marathon was caught in an absorbing 2009 book from the Liz Robbins, a former sportswriter at The New York Times titled ‘A Race Like No Other’. The book was about the 2007 running of the event. She followed the experiences of both the top and also newbie runners over the 26.2 miles of the route as it went through the streets of New York, from the start line at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge all the way to the finish line that is in Central Park. Her book has sold well and narrated everything very well.

It was maybe the 1983 NYC marathon that captured the interest of so many, especially a national television audience as it had been broadcast live. Geoff Smith from England was leading for the majority of the way and was caught and passed at the 26 mile mark in Central Park by Rodney Dixon from New Zealand. With 6 miles left, Rod Dixon was two and half minutes behind Smith however slowly came back to get victory by just nine seconds. Immediately after Rod Dixon crossed the line to celebrate standing, Smith collapsed on the ground. A photograph captured that moment in time and became an iconic photo referred to as a “Thrill of Victory/Agony of Defeat” picture.

The current course record for men is 2:05:05, set by Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya in 2011 and for females it is 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo likewise from Kenya in 2003. The slow joggers are given eight hours and 30 minutes to do the distance. The Olympian Grete Waitz won her 1st NYC Marathon in 1978, winning in what was back then race record time of 2:32:30. She later went on to get victory in an additional eight races, still having the record for the most number of victories.