What an amazing day to be in New York City. The 2013 ING New York City Marathon came back with the biggest field of runners in the history of the sport. At the 43rd running of the race 50,304 finishers made it the world’s largest marathon ever.
In this episode of “On The Run” Tim Hutchings, Carrie Tollefson and I look at the highlights from the race, talk to some runners including pros and charity runners, and follow-up with a few of the athletes we profiled in previous episodes including Bryan Steinhauer, Team One Spirit, Bill Rancic and more. We also take a look back at the excitement of race week.
But I’d also like to share my thoughts about the marathon and what it means to me.
It was an honor to be a part of race week and the marathon, and to be in the middle of all the action. I’ve run the ING New York City Marathon three times and watched as a spectator even more. Each time, New York didn’t disappoint. It was my first marathon and it still stands as my favorite.
A few people have asked me: what’s more fun—running the race or reporting from it? Honestly, it’s a tie. Covering the race from the sidelines was as exciting as running it myself. With each—running, spectating, and reporting—you get a unique perspective on the race. While running, you get to experience the magic yourself. While spectating, you get to see the pros race by and contribute to what makes this race so magical for thousands of people. And while reporting, I got a backstage pass to so much of the action from the media center, to the start and the finish.
Then there are the volunteers who each experience the race in a unique way too. My husband, who has run the ING New York City Marathon twice, volunteered at the water station on First Avenue at 62nd Street. He had a front-row seat, so to speak, as the pros raced by, and got to be on the giving end of that refreshing cup of water instead of being the runner who receives it. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as different as it was from racing himself.
The motto of this year’s race was “You make it the marathon.” It goes to show just how many different types of “you” there are: runners, spectators, volunteers, staff, police, medics, shop owners, the list goes on and on. It’s a huge community effort to put on a race like the ING New York City Marathon. And the result is nothing short of magnificent.
But of all the moments I saw and experienced on marathon Sunday, my favorite was standing just behind the finish line watching runners complete their 26.2-mile journey.
I was there with the “On The Run” crew looking for some of the runners we profiled throughout the week. As I watched runner after runner come over the line, I got a bit emotional. It was all so inspiring. Runners high fiving, fist pumping, hugging, kissing, crying, and, sometimes, wincing in pain. As a marathoner myself, I’ve experienced all those different emotions at one finish or another. And every finish is a triumph in its own way, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth.
One of the most moving was watching 2009 ING New York City Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi crossing the finish hand-in-hand with local New York runner Michael Cassidy. Meb had a rocky training season, culminating in a bad fall just two weeks before the race. Mike is a Staten Island native and elite runner in New York City, who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon with a 2:18:52 time. He won the Staten Island Half earlier this year, and he was a vocal supporter of the ING New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. He penned a now-famous defense of the race on LetsRun.com.
The pair ran the last 5K together, and each credits the other with getting him over the finish line—in 2:23:46 for Mike and 2:23:47 for Meb. It was a touching moment.
But runners are standouts in that respect. Case in point: moments before the professional men started on Sunday, American Jason Hartmann saw me and said with a big smile, “Have a great show today!” To which I replied, “You have a great race! Good luck!” Wishing me good luck before he’s about to race a marathon? This is a guy who’s finished fourth in Boston two years in a row. Class act. Mike Cassidy is much the same. When I interviewed him right after the finish on Sunday, he asked me how my last marathon went in Toronto. Amazing.
After the tragedy and chaos of last year, seeing a former ING New York City Marathon champion cross the line hand-in-hand with a Staten Islander exemplified what makes this race one of the greatest events in all of sports. It’s what sportsmanship is all about. It’s also what the spirit of the marathon is all about. Watching this episode of “On The Run” at the top of this post is worth it for seeing that moment alone.
I have to thank New York Road Runners for once again welcoming me into their team for race week. “On The Run” is probably my favorite project I’ve ever worked on.
If you missed any of our previous episodes leading up to the race, with profiles on so many great runners from pros like Jason Hartmann to charity runners like Team One Spirit and Bryan Steinhauer, check out these links:
I’ll leave you with a look at some of the stats on the 2013 ING New York City Marathon to underscore just how great this race really is.
If you ran, congratulations! I hope you had a great race. Til next time!
2013 ING New York City Marathon By The Numbers
109 countries represented
50 states and the District of Columbia represented
2 million spectators
330 million global broadcast reach
$340 million economic impact
2013 ING New York City Marathon Winners
Female winner: Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya), 2:25:07
Male winner: Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya), 2:08:24
Male wheelchair winner: Marcel Hug (Switzerland), 1:40:14
Female wheelchair winner: Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, MD), 1:59:13
First American male finisher: Ryan Vail (Portland, OR), 13th, 2:13:23
First American female finisher: Adriana Nelson (Boulder, CO), 13th, 2:35:05
2012−2013 World Marathon Majors male winner: Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia (second, 2:09:16) with 75 points, earning the $500,000 winner-take-all prize
2012−2013 World Marathon Major female winner: Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya (first, 2:25:07) with 75 points, earning the $500,000 winner-take-all prize