Competitors in yesterday's TCS New York City Marathon faced whipping winds and chilly temperatures -- conditions that challenged runners and spectators throughout the five boroughs.
"It affected everyone," said professional runner Ryan Vail, 28, of Portland, Oregon, who finished ninth with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 8 seconds. "It took a lot of patience because the wind was coming and going. Being in the back of the pack helped a lot."
An estimated 50,000-plus competitors wound their way from the starting line in Staten Island through Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx toward the finish line in Manhattan's Central Park.
In the morning, race officials had moved the start of the wheelchair competition from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island to Brooklyn for fear the athletes would be blown over by the high winds. And even the elite runners said the weather was a factor.
"After running in such tough conditions, I'm very happy," said men's winner Wilson Kipsang of Kenya. "The finish was very close and the speed was very high. It was not easy."
Kipsang, in his New York City marathon debut, ran the race in 2:10:55 after sprinting to the finish.In the women's marathon, Kenyan Mary Keitany finished seconds ahead of her countrywoman, Jemima Sumgong, in 2:25:07.
Kurt Fearnley of Australia was the men's wheelchair champion, adding a fourth title to his three from 2006, 2007 and 2008 in 1:30:55. Tatyana McFadden of Illinois won the women's wheelchair division in 1:42:16.
American Alfredo De Los Santos won the handcycle division in 1:17:28 and Helene Hines, also American, took the women's category in 2:04:45.
Fighting cold, wind
At the starting line, Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed the athletes and wished them luck -- especially in the harsh weather conditions.
"To all the runners who fought hard to get to this day, like all New Yorkers, you're not going to let some cold or wind hold you back," de Blasio said.
Runner Eddie Lott, 56, of Glen Cove was bundled up in layers of fleece, a wool cap and gloves, and a wind-protection tarp as he made his way to the race -- his first time running the marathon.
"I don't want to catch a chill," he said. "The winds will add an extra challenge."
Lott, a technology consultant, said the race training "gives me a lot of focus because running is more mental than physical. You have to constantly tell yourself that you can do this when you think you can't."
Spectators also tried to keep warm, dressing themselves in layers of down and fleece as they lined the streets in support of the competitors. Some businesses along the route blared songs like "New York, New York" and "Eye of the Tiger."
Melissa Brill, 44, of Park Slope was watching with her son, Oliver, 10. They've been coming in for eight years and said the chill in the air really didn't bother them. "We always come, no matter what," she said. "It's hard to run without people cheering you on, especially in this weather."
Along the race route, one sign read, "Run like the (45mph) wind." J.D. Archibald, 25, of Boston, who made the sign, came to support runners Danielle Alvarez and Abe Salvador, both 26 and of Miami.
James Dean, 37, of St. Albert in Alberta, Canada, said the strong winds not only hindered his running, they blew his racing bib right off his torso, causing organizers to pull him out of the race toward its end.
"It was tough," he said of the conditions. "I was always looking for someone bigger than me to run behind.
"It definitely slowed you down running into the headwinds, but it was nice to have the tail winds at other points," said Dean, whose wife, Celine Gannon, 37, also competed.
After the race, several runners gave the crowd thumbs-up signals as they wrapped themselves in blue warming blankets.
Adrian Hunte, 60, of Westchester was at the race to support the Van Courtlandt Track Club, with 68 of its members running this year.
"It's a wonderful event, it's a test of endurance and strength," said Hunte, who has run in three marathons.
"It's not just running -- it's an achievement for your life. If you can run 26 miles, you can do just about anything."