The New York Marathon – The World’s Largest

The New York Marathon attracts over 35,000 participants each year, all entering either the men’s, women’s or wheelchair participant categories. The race first started in 1970, has been run every year since, and is the world’s biggest annual marathon, narrowly beating London to the title on the basis of runners completing the course.

In 2007 Paula Radcliffe scored an amazing comeback victory at the race, leading the women’s race from start to finish and completing the course in an amazing 2 hours 23 minutes and 9 seconds. The men’s race was won by Martin Lel of Kenya in 2 hours 9minutes and 2 seconds who out-sprinted second-placed Abderrahim Goumri in sight of the finishing tape.

World-class athletes such as Lel and Radcliffe are drawn to the race not only by the $900,000 prize fund but also the global TV audience of almost 315million. Many of the amateur athletes, who make up the majority of the participants, compete to raise money for charity and to enjoy the thrill of running past the two million spectators that cram the 26-mile route.

The Marathon takes in all five boroughs of New York City, starting on Staten Island. Almost the entire first two miles of the race involves crossing the massive Verrazano-Narrows Bridge over the Hudson into Brooklyn, before turning northwards. After 13 miles the route then traverses into the borough of Queens, before entering Manhattan over the Queensboro Bridge. After four miles the route crosses into the Bronx, where runners cover just over one mile in the last of the boroughs to be visited before heading south back into Manhattan. The last stage of the race takes the runners through Harlem and finally into Central Park where they complete the last three miles of this gruelling race.

The race finishes in front of the famous Tavern on the Green, which provides a dramatic contrast of the foliage and vegetation of Central Park against the concrete jungle of the surrounding skyscrapers. The congestion at the finishing point is best described as crammed, and anyone thinking of watching the finish in person should avoid this area unless they can view it from one of the many overlooking windows or terraces of a nearby Fifth Avenue apartment block or Central Park hotel in New York.

And with residents are just as keen – if not more so – on watching the race than visitors, the whole day exhibits a fabulous ambience, and definitely offers one of life’s great experiences.

Matthew Pressman is a freelance writer and frequent flyer. When not travelling, he enjoys golf and fishing.

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