The first New York marathon was held in 1970, organized by Vince Chiappetta. The run took place in Central Park with 127 entrants, but only 55 men finishers. The sole female entrant did not see the finishing line. Winners were awarded ‘amazing’ prizes – an inexpensive wristwatch and baseball and bowling trophies. There were other interesting points in the first year – the entry fee was $ 1 and the total marathon budget did not exceed $ 1,000. But, a lot of water has flowed in the Hudson River since and many things have changed. Awareness grew significantly; a small local event has turned into a famous international sport happening. New York City Marathon is among the most popular world events today and its charms are sought by more than 55,000 entrants.
Start of the race is an experience of fear for the participants. Usually they wake up at 5am, tense to make the bus to Staten Island where the race starts. When they finally arrive, they have to divide into color coded groups based on the starting times. The gathering place is just next to Fort Wadsworth, originally a military installation.
Some groups start as late as 11:30am, which means that the entrants have somehow to fill the time between arriving to Staten Island and the actual start. Runners are not very fond of ‘dead time’, separating them from the moment when they actually begin to run. Just imagine: you are so motivated and prepared since the early morning, but if you have a higher number, you might need to wait around six hours to start. The run itself begins after the National Anthem and a sound of a Howitzer cannon. This adventure takes runners through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn where they can enjoy the cheering of the crowds or candy, fruit and even hugs.
New York marathon atmosphere resembles in places the world biggest street party. More than 130 music bands line the course, offering variety of styles from heavy metal to gospel; about five bands to a mile. Runners’ uniforms are nice and fairly conservative, but the spectators relish in the fun. Although, do not take the comment about conservatism too seriously, even among the entrants you would find guys in a Darth Vader costume, extravagant shark, bacon or princess costumes, runners in business attire (suits and ties), or sparsely dressed brave participants in underwear and even a pope delivering blessings while running.
According to experienced runners, the course is more demanding than it would seem. Allegedly no one reaches their personal record here because the terrain is hilly. The Queensboro Bridge is one of the hills, waiting just after the half of the course. The run feels never-ending here, but the effort is rewarded with a breathtaking view of Manhattan.