The Best New York City Marathon Photos of the Past 50 Years


The New York City Marathon is one of the world’s largest street races and most democratic. Olympic medalists and world champions run the identical 26.2 miles as weekend warriors. There have been 1,283,005 whole finishers over 49 runnings, and hundreds of pictures captured by scores of photographers for The New York Times.

The runners pulse by way of the 5 boroughs, and thru the photographs right here. Their thighs really feel stabbingly sore, their hamstrings twang like banjos, and their toenails darken like the hastening afternoon sky. But the overwhelming majority are triumphant in reaching the end line, having challenged the limits of their endurance and skilled New York’s loud and welcoming and eccentric embrace. Where else are you able to anticipate to be high-fived by a cat?

Hours earlier than the begin, hundreds of runners start loading buses and ferries and journey from Manhattan to the begin at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. They are extraordinarily hydrated and nervous by this level, however there are strains of transportable bathrooms accessible at the begin and on the course. Unlike the annual worldwide marathon in Pyongyang, North Korea, nonetheless, New York is not going to supply an opportunity to make an official pit cease in a karaoke bar.

Frank Sinatra will sing “New York, New York” so many instances as the waves of runners set off, even his recorded voice will start to sound hoarse. This humpbacked begin over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is one of nice expectancy, so the first mile uphill is hardly noticeable and the second mile downhill offers a giddy however treacherous sense of ease. The man planning to dribble basketballs the total 26.2 miles prays for little or no wind so his props don’t find yourself in the Atlantic Ocean.

At this early stage in Brooklyn, that is much less a race than a parade. The course is flat, the crowds are buoyant and the odor of Sunday morning cooking fills the air. Central Park, the place the marathon was held in its entirety earlier than it turned a five-borough race in 1976, appears awfully removed from right here. But there’s zero probability at this level that anybody is contemplating reaching the end line in a cab.

This continues to be principally preamble. Bands are enjoying and indicators in the crowd are humorous: “Toenails are for losers.” “Pain is French for bread.” Then, on the Pulaski Bridge, you cross from Brooklyn into Queens and attain the midway level at 13.1 miles. If you’re a four-hour marathoner, you’ve got reached halfway as the males’s winner nears the end line, about to finish 26.2 miles whereas averaging lower than 5 minutes per mile. You surprise how somebody can journey this quick whereas not using a Vespa.

It begins to get severe, heading up the Queensboro Bridge at Mile 15. The race goes quiet on the bridge, with no cheering spectators and the sound of footsteps muffled by particular race-day carpet. The Manhattan skyline comes into panoramic view, however runners are principally turning inward, gauging their legs and their gasoline. Soon, a spectator’s signal will inevitably warn: “This seems like an awful lot of work for a free banana.”

Exiting the bridge into Manhattan supplies one of the most exhilarating and deceiving factors on the course. The crowds swell alongside First Avenue and lots of runners make the mistake of rushing up recklessly, solely to fade into exhaustion earlier than the end. Crowds skinny in the Bronx, and again in Manhattan the legs develop heavy on the gradual uphill alongside Fifth Avenue. Fatigue can deliver confusion. If a volunteer provides you one thing, be sure you usually are not about to eat a sponge.

Those high-tech trainers with catapults in the soles can solely accomplish that a lot. The closing miles in Central Park are a grind. Two hills seem round Mile 24. After an tour alongside 59th Street, runners re-enter the park at Columbus (*50*) for the closing stretch. During the 1994 race, Germán Silva of Mexico turned prematurely into the park, recovered and nonetheless received. Do not do this.

Finally, a slight uphill results in the end line and, exhausted however glad, you get a medal round your neck. But you aren’t completed. You preserve strolling out of the park and be a part of others making their solution to their accommodations, filling Midtown Manhattan with what appear to be spandex zombies in costly footwear. Then you name house and report your time and say, “You won’t believe this, but I got high-fived by a cat.”