This story was reported by Jordan Lauterbach, Michael O'Keeffe, Ted Phillips and Dandan Zou. It was written by O'Keeffe.
Athletes from around the world — world-class runners to weekend warriors — competed in the 49th annual New York City Marathon Sunday, pounding 26.2 miles of Big Apple pavement Sunday while a million people cheered them on along crowded, festive streets.
More than 52,000 runners from 129 countries participated in the world-famous race, which began in Staten Island and snaked through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx, before ending in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Many of the spectators came to see elite athletes, others came to root for friends and family members. Some paced the city’s streets simply to soak in the sunshine and the good vibes.
Nicole O’Loughlin, of Long Beach, said cheering family members dressed in green helped her make it across the finish line. “That gave me a nice boost,” she said.
Matt Regier of Astoria, who ran the marathon in 2015, said he’s been watching the marathon off and on for 20 years because of the generosity and graciousness of the crowds.
“What I love about the marathon is it’s the only sporting event where people cheer just because others are trying really hard,” said Regier, who watched the race on Crescent Street in Long Island City while his 2-year-old son Emilio sat on his shoulders waving two small tambourines. “None of the people we cheered today are winners. It’s not about winning.”
There were winners, of course: Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor, 26, won the men’s race in two hours, eight minutes, 13 seconds, edging his countryman Albert Korir, who was second in 2:08.36. Kamworor is the 10th man to win multiple New York City Marathon titles. Jared Ward was the fastest American, finishing sixth in 2:10:45.
Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei won the women’s race with a time of 2:22.38, outlasting four-time champion Mary Keitany, also of Kenya, who finished second in 2:23:32. It was the first time Jepkosgei, 26, competed in the New York City Marathon and she became the youngest woman to win since Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Jifar, then 25 years old, won in 2001.
Manuela Schar of Switzerland won her third straight women’s wheelchair title with a time of 1:44.20, while Daniel Romanchuk of the United States defended his 2018 title with a time of 1:37.24.
Zoe Schroeder of Brooklyn watched the marathon along 4th Avenue in Park Slope with her boyfriend Kevin Cullen as thousands of people waved flags, rang bells and shouted encouragement to runners. “It is inspiring for sure,” Schroeder said.
“I wouldn’t say it is inspiring me to run a marathon,” she added, laughing. “But it is inspiring that people do.”
Joseph Slaninka of Holbrook, a wheelchair athlete competing in his eighth New York City Marathon, said his shoulders were on fire after he rolled is handcycle past the finish line in Central Park — but he was glad he competed.
“People tell you you can’t do this and you can’t do that. I enjoy proving people wrong,” Slaninka said. “It’s about doing more than what you thought you could and doing more than what other people thought you could.”
Some runners competed for deeply personal reasons. Lisa Tuozzolo, 43, of Huntington finished her first marathon in memory of her husband Paul Tuozzolo, a NYPD sergeant who was killed in the line of duty in 2016. Tuozzolo was surrounded by her sons Joseph, 6, and Austin, 7, as well as NYPD officers and camera crews as she crossed the finish line.
“For me, this race was about honoring the sacrifice that he made and honoring the sacrifice that all of our fallen officers made, never forgetting them,” Tuozzolo said.
She said her marathon effort symbolizes “as a survivor of a fallen officer, that we’re never alone, that the NYPD and all of our local police departments really step up and are there for us."
“Paul is really looking down on me and is proud of what I'm accomplishing,” she added.
Skies over the city were partly cloudy and although morning temperatures were chilly, they climbed to the mid-50s by the afternoon. It was perfect weather for runners, spectators — and the scores of kids who pogoed in a bounce house and munched on cookies a the PS 118 fall fair.
“This is literally the whole world coming together, and I have to say, in harmony,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an interview with WABC-TV. “It’s a beautiful day.”
Mary Vines, a three-time New York City Marathon participant and a track coach at PS 107 in Park Slope, said she came to cheer on friends including students’ parents and a school guidance counselor who ran the route this year.
She said she talks about her marathon experiences with her students. “We talk about how when you run a marathon, you are running your own race,” Vines said. “It is about what you can do personally. It is all about beating your best time and doing what is amazing for you.”
In Manhattan, Gabriela Murrieta of Mexico City, who has run 14 marathons in the past, watched the runners flash by and declared New York’s marathon the best.
“All the time, you see people or music or bands,” she said. “You don’t need headphones.”
A few blocks away, Kelly Roberts, who has run several marathons, stood with friends and waved a sign that said “You are not almost there.”
“People like to say, ‘You are almost there.' You are not almost there when you are on mile three,” Roberts said. “It is not encouraging; it is annoying.”
Roberts said she competes with her sister every year to make the funniest sign. “She always wins,” Roberts said.
Liana Rodriguez of Queens, meanwhile, stood along Crescent Street in Queens holding a sign that said “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m glad I ain’t running 26.2!”
The NYPD reported no arrests or incidents related to the marathon. “The greatest police department in the world is making sure everybody is safe and happy,” a police spokesman said.
The NYPD said last week that it would boost security for the marathon in the wake of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who blew himself up after being cornered in a dead-end tunnel on Oct. 26 in Syria.
New York has been the target of several ISIS-inspired terror attacks in recent years. A truck driver mowed down people on a bike path along the Hudson River, killing eight and injuring dozens of others just days before the 2017 New York Marathon.
About 1,000 uniformed and plainclothes officers were stationed across the city, along with 500 blocker cars and 100 sand trucks. Helicopters and drones kept lookout in New York skies, officials said, while police boats patrolled city waters.
Security, however took a back seat to good times along the marathon route Sunday.
Crystal Park of Park Slope was all smiles as she watched the race with her husband, Sean McCullough, and their two small children along Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue.
“This is good,” Park said. “The crowd is awesome. Everyone should experience the New York Marathon at least once in their life.”