New York City Marathon

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New York City Marathon

First Sunday in November
The New York City Marathon began in 1970 as a race four times around Central Park. But in 1976, Fred Lebow and the New York Road Runners Club, the world's largest running club and the race's sponsor, decided to get corporate support, invite top runners from all over the world, and to run the course through all five New York boroughs.
Unlike the Boston Marathon, which is run primarily through the countryside and small towns, the New York course is urban, beginning at the tollbooth plaza at the end of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Staten Island and progressing across the bridge through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx before finishing in Manhattan's Central Park.
About 30,000 runners compete in the race, and over a million New Yorkers turn out to watch. In addition to cash prizes ranging from $65,000 for the first-place finishers to $7,500 for fifth place, thousands more in bonuses are handed out each year.
The marathon has had a positive effect on New York City's public image, which has suffered because of its high crime rate and frequent clashes between ethnic groups. The runners who compete regularly in New York say that the crowds are enthusiastic and friendly, and city dwellers look upon it as a time to forget racial and ethnic differences and cheer the runners on.
Like most things in New York City, its marathon is amazing. Rosie Ruiz, well known for being disqualified for cheating in the Boston Marathon, was thrown out in New York for taking the subway to the finish line.
Then there's race organizer Fred Lebow: although an avid runner he had never run New York until he was struck by brain cancer. Then in 1992, the cancer in remission, this 60-year-old Romanian-born escapee from the Holocaust finally ran the 26.2 mile course. His companion on his heroic run was his good friend and nine-time New York winner, Grete Waitz of Norway. Lebow's time: 5 hours 32 minutes 34 seconds.
In 1992 Australian-born Lisa Ondieki set a new women's course record of 2:24:40 and won a $30,000 bonus in addition to the standard $20,000 purse and Mercedes-Benz automobile. Willie Mtolo, a 28-year-old Zulu from South Africa, won his first major international marathon in 1992. This was a special victory for him since he had been unable to compete outside his homeland until that year: South African athletes had suffered a 21-year political embargo. Mtolo's time: 2 hours 9 minutes 29 seconds.
In the 2000 race, runners came from more than 150 countries, and over 100 contenders competed in the Marathon's first official wheelchair and handcycle division. Several scheduled runners were lost in the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and some relatives and friends signed up to run in their places. The Road Runners Club dedicated the 2001 Marathon to the victims of the attacks.
CONTACTS:
New York Road Runners Club
9 E 89th St.
New York, NY 10128
877-697-7786 or 212-860-4455
www.nyrrc.org
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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