First held in September 1970, the running competition most loved by runners around the world is today much more than a simple race, it is a real cultural phenomenon. Let’s explore its history.
How was the Big Apple Marathon born?
More than 50,000 runners will take to the streets of the Big Apple on Sunday, November 6, the date of the fifty-first New York City Marathon. It was first published fifty-two years ago and Participation of only 127 athletes, which pays $1 to sign up. It’s a radical change from today’s event, which receives over a hundred thousand registration requests each year and manages to satisfy less than half of them through the lottery.
Only 55 runners managed to reach the end of the first race on September 13, 1970. Among them is American firefighter and marathon runner Gary Muhrcke, who won with a time of 2 hours 31 minutes 38 seconds: as a reward, Muhrcke bought a watch of questionable quality and baseball trophies recycled by the organizing association. The route, which was very different from today’s route, passing through all five of New York’s so-called “districts” (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island), later developed along the perimeter of Central Park with dozens of tours. until the park reaches a distance of 42 kilometers.
The first innovation came already in the second edition in 1972: Women also participated in the competitionHe also managed to cancel the rule that men had to leave ten minutes before or after. Twenty-year-old bespectacled Beth Bonner, who hails from Preston, West Virginia, not only became the first girl to win the legendary New York race, but also became the first girl to set a new world record. The woman entered the 3 o’clock barrier and completed the race in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 22 seconds.
The race continued in a much lower tone until 1976Following the idea of Mr. George Spitz, an official of the New York municipality, it was decided to organize a marathon in which athletes would travel throughout the city in order to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States of America.
The competition in this format was a huge success, and Mayor Beame was by then skeptical about its possibility. to spread the race around the entire metropolitan areadecided to confirm the city route of the five districts. Moreover, 1976 was the first year in the history of athletics that a runner with a prosthesis, namely Dick Traum, managed to run and finish the race.
The New York City Marathon is just nine years after its first edition, thanks to rapidly expanding international excitement. already had over 10,000 runners Registered from all over the world. Since its first edition, the race has only been canceled twice: in 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy and in 2020. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the historic moments of the race worth mentioning is undoubtedly the 1986 race (won by Italian Gianni Poli). The first one was played in November Following the major heatwave recorded in the so far traditional period of September. From then on, the penultimate month of the year was confirmed as the new start date of the race. But in 1995, the coldest edition ever was held: just three degrees.
Times and historical winners of the race
Norwegian Grete Waitz is one of the women who will remain forever in the history of the New York Marathon, thanks to three consecutive world records Set with times of 2:32:30 (1978), 2:27:33 (1979) and 2:25:42 (1980). As if that wasn’t enough, Waitz won the race nine times between 1978 and 1988; This record still stands today.
The top men’s winners are American Alberto Salazar, who won the race in 1980, 1981 and 1982, and Bill Rogers, who still holds the absolute record today with four consecutive victories between 1976 and 1979. ribbon as a two-time winner. Among these too Italian Orlando PizzolatoWinner in 1984 and 1985.
Among women, Kenyan Mary Keitany is behind the legendary Waitz with four successes she achieved in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Behind her is the great Paula Radcliffe, who won in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Today, the owners of the best times in the New York marathon include the great Kenyan among the men Geoffrey Mutai in 2 hours 5 minutes 6 secondsAmong the women is Margaret OKOO, also Kenyan, who stopped the clock in 2:22:31: a record that has stood for two decades and could be undermined this year by Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei.