The New York Marathon is an annual run of 42,195 meters that winds through the five large districts of New York City. It is the most participated marathon in the world, with its 43,545 athletes, who arrived at the finish in 2009. Along with the Boston Marathon and that of Chicago, is one of the most important races of the United States and is part of the World Marathon Majors.
The race is organized by New York Road Runners (NYRR) and takes place every year since 1970. In recent years it has also sponsorship from the financial group ING Group. The event is held in the first Sunday every November and attracts both professional and amateur athletes, from around the world. As for the latter, because of the great popularity of the event, participation is limited to only a part of the 100,000 requests received every year.
The choice of participants is through a lottery, but still favor athletes who have already participated or those in possession of excellent qualifying times. Runners of NYRR members can race or participate in qualifications or through appointment by a jogging club official. According to organizers, it is estimated that about 700,000 people have taken part in the 40 editions of the NYC Marathon.
The race covers all five boroughs of New York City. It begins in Staten Island, near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The bridge, which is normally used only for transport of cars, is closed for the occasion. In the minutes after starting, the bridge is crowded with runners, creating a majestic scene that had become the symbol of the race itself.
After the descent of the bridge, the route crosses Brooklyn for about 19 km (12 miles). The riders pass through a wide variety of neighborhoods from Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. As the 21.1 km race goes on the Pulaski Bridge, which marks the end of the first half of the race and the entry in the district of Queens. After about 4 km athletes through the East River on the dreaded Queensboro Bridge lead to Manhattan. This is the most critical point of the race in which many athletes accuse fatigue thus crossing the bridge is considered one of the most difficult steps in this marathon.
After Manhattan, after about 25.5 km, the race goes on to First Avenue and then goes briefly to the Bronx, reaching through the Willis Avenue Bridge to return to Manhattan to the Madison Avenue Bridge. The race then proceeds to Harlem down Fifth Avenue and Central Park. The race continues for Central Park South, where thousands of spectators gather to cheer the athletes for the last mile. At Columbus Circle the race is part of the park and ends outside the restaurant Tavern on the Green. The maximum limit to complete the race is 8 hours and 30 minutes from the start that is given at 10:10 hours.
In 2009 the average time of the runners came in at 4 hours and 20 minutes. The first New York Marathon was held in 1970, organized by the President of NYRR Vince Chiappetta and Fred Lebow, with 127 competitors who took turns along the Park Drive to Central Park. Not more than a hundred spectators stopped to watch the victory of Gary Muhrcke, who took 2:31:38 hours. In addition, only 55 competitors reached the end of the race.
Over the years, the marathon has had an increasing number of athletes. To facilitate the progress of the competition, given the growing number of athletes, the co-founder Fred Lebow redrew the race in order to cover all five boroughs of New York City. The marathon grew in popularity when the Norwegian Grete Waitz set a new world record at 2:32:30 hours.
Waitz won the race eight more times. In 2000 it was determined that there should be a section for athletes of wheelchair, and from 2002 to professional athletes the start is given 35 minutes before the rest of the runners, to allow an arrival at a short distance from the first ones. The race has become the most famous in the world, with its 2 million viewers and 315 million fans who follow the race live on NBC.
In 2004 the British Paula Radcliffe won in 2:23:10 hours, beating Susan Chepkemei with only 4 seconds, the shortest gap in the history of this marathon. In 2005, Paul Tergat from Kenya, was able to win the race in 2:09:30 hours, beating the the South African Hendrick Ramaala for a single second. The 2012, the edition was canceled for a day by the mayor Michael Bloomberg because of the passage of Hurricane Sandy.
New York is worth the trip. But when there is the marathon maybe more. It's the only one that can change your life. If you win somewhere in the world, you will become a prominent athlete, but if you win in New York you will become famous.