New York Marathon: The Greatest Big City Road Race
The New York Marathon is one of the most prestigious events for long distance runners. It forms part of the World Marathon Majors together with similar races in Berlin, London, Boston, and Chicago. Every first Sunday of November, tens of thousands of participants line the streets of New York and local residents come out in droves to show their support. The race offers a unique course that goes through all the five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan. The finish line is always located at Central Park.
A Brief History of the Race
This annual event started in 1970 through the efforts of legendary race director Fred Lebow and the New York Road Runners club which he headed. The first installment saw 127 runners participating with only 55 of them finishing the race. From this humble beginning, the New York City Marathon steadily gained popularity and began to attract elite athletes from around the world. In 2011, there were 46,795 finishers in a diverse field that hailed from 118 different countries. Over a third of the participants are women, the youngest at 18 and the oldest being 84 years of age.
Famous Winners and Course Records
On the menâ€™s side, the race featured multiple wins by legendary American runners Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar in the late 70â€™s to the early 80â€™s. Runners from East Africa have since dominated the marathon from the late 90â€™s onwards, the latest being Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya who set an impressive course record of 2:05:05 in 2011. As for the women, no one comes close to the legacy built by Grete Waitz as the well-loved Norwegian won the title an incredible nine times in her prime. The womenâ€™s course record is currently held by Margaret Okayo of Kenya who clocked in at 2:22:31 during her 2nd victory in 2003.