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For many, New York City Marathon was a much-needed positive experience

Runners participate in the ING New York City

Runners participate in the ING New York City Marathon, one of the most famous marathons in the world. It was cancelled in 2012 because of superstorm Sandy, but yesterday started with approximately 45,000 participants and strengthened security measures after the bombing of the Boston Marathon in April 2013. (Nov. 3, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

The goal this year, and an admirable one, was to have just a regular, normal New York City Marathon. In retrospect, that would have been selling it short. This one went the distance, and then some.

Take it from Alan Schwartz of Sands Point, who wore the orange 2012 New York City Marathon shirt he was going to wear last year before it was called off in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Take it from Brian Muellers of Huntington, who chose not to run for re-election as a Nassau County legislator 10 years ago. He was charmed by the atmosphere Sunday during his first New York City Marathon. "It shows what the human spirit can do," he said.

And take it from Dr. David King of Cambridge, Mass., who after finishing in 3 hours, 11 minutes, 58 seconds, said it was different this year, in a positive way.

That is good enough for us, considering King knows marathons. After he ran all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, he went to Massachusetts General Hospital and operated for 30 hours on people badly injured near the finish line.

He thought about them Sunday as he crossed the Verrazano and Queensborough Bridges, as he heard the roars in Brooklyn and the celebratory hoots in Central Park.

"This race, for me, was a rebirth and crawling out from under that cloud that [the bombing] temporarily created," he said. "I don't know. It's another sunrise."

Sunday's marathon had a lot to overcome, starting with the stigma of selfishness that stuck with the New York Road Runners when they originally insisted on holding the race while the region still was waist deep in trauma over Sandy. The criticism hurt because runners are known to be unselfish, often raising money for charity with every step. Sunday was a good rebound.

There also was the matter of proving that an event like this can be held without a bloody incident. So as Schwartz, president of a financial network company, said, "It was definitely not normal. There were more police on the course. They're really, really monitoring everything, as I think they should."

It worked. "I tell you, I've run London, Nashville. There's nothing like New York," he said after running 3:55:39.

Muellers was happier on the course than he ever was while ringing doorbells and shaking hands before Election Day. "In this kind of race, you can control your own outcome," he said after finishing in 3:55:15.

Yes, there was plenty of chatter about Sandy and Boston. Good chatter. "This just shows what New York is really all about," he said.

King, who treated wounded soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, said, "This city was so perfect. The energy was amazing here."

This time King had the luxury of relaxing after the race, not rushing to the operating room for an even more intense marathon, as he had seven months ago. "The first patient I took was Rosann Sdoia, who ended up with an amputation. The trauma team just kept repeating this all night, and for days to come," he said.

Talk about amazing energy. "I don't know, man, you just summon it," King said.

No way was he going to miss the New York City Marathon, which pumped life into those who ran it and watched it. "People run for a million different reasons. I usually don't run for anything in particular. Just for the joy of it," he said. "But today, I'm definitely running for Boston."

It was much better than normal.

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