The Big Apple is home to the last ‘World Marathon Major’ and one of the biggest sporting events on an international level, the New York Marathon, which this year will celebrate its 45th anniversary. To celebrate it, we will take you on a journey through history, the marathon’s curiosities, it’s sporting legends, and other fascinating facts of the biggest marathon challenge the USA has to offer.
More than 50,000 runners annually attend this athletic event, which prides itself as being the most popular and participated in event of its kind; It takes place on the first Sunday of November, and is followed live by nearly 2 million spectators, a figure to which we must add the many millions of viewers from all around the globe.
Unlike the marathons that take place in Boston, Tokyo etc. that of New York is the only one that has retained its original route; A total of 42,195Km separate its participants from the starting point in Staten Island, where they must cross the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and pass through the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Harlem to finally reach the finish line in Central Park, where participants from five different continents will ultimately pass through the Fifth Avenue and find their glory.
In 1977, before an age limit was set on the event, Wesley Paul, just eight years old, became the youngest participant in history to finish this event. Celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds, Edward Norton, Pamela Anderson, William Baldwin and president Zapatero have all participated, however in 2012 the marathon had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy – This did not stop the people however, as thousands gathered in Central Park to organize an alternative marathon course not recorded on file.
It’s notorious just how difficult it is to participate in this event; When it first began, a simple dollar donation guaranteed an entry, today the price has risen to approximately 255 dollars. To be elected to participate you must fulfil a rather set of peculiar requirements, which include having participated more than 15+ times, be backed by accreditor brands or bought a tourist package (Flight+Accomodation) with certain tour operators; There is also the famous lottery with permits eager fans to participate.
A Legendary Event, 45 Years Old
It all began on the 13th of September 1970; 127 participants (Including just one woman) lined up to begin the start of a new event, in which only 55 would reach the finish line. 1976 would mark a before and after for the marathon, when George Spitz would propose the route for the event which we now know today, with previous suggestions for routes being denied by the organization – Passing through five different New York districts is considered the DNA of the marathon.
Gary Muehrcke would have his name immortalized for becoming the winner of the first edition of this marathon with Mary Wittenberg not falling far behind for being the first woman ever to participate, but the privilege of winning 9 consecutive times (In the women’s class) goes to Norwegian Grete Waitz. Unfortunately the most famous female participant is Rosie Ruiz, completing the event in just under 3 hours, cheating using the metro transport service, as was later discovered. Another famous USA participant is Bill Rodgers, who has won the gold medal on four different occasions, a record that has yet to be beaten.
In 2014, the representatives of this marathon received the Prince of Asturias Award, which recognizes its contribution to dramatically advancing, nurturing and promoting the sport, claiming that it symbolizes coexistence between both amateur and professional sportsmen on an international athletics level.