Running the City

A Kenyan runner breaks a course record during the 2011 ING New York City Marathon

Nov 07, 2011 | By Kelli Plasket
MIKE SEGAR—REUTERS

A runner from Kenya broke a course record—and a sweat—when he completed the 42nd annual ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 6, 2011. Geoffrey Mutai, 30, finished the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 6 seconds, winning the men’s division. That’s almost three minutes faster than the previous race record set during the 2001 New York City Marathon.

Women’s division winner Firehiwot Dado embraces fellow Ethiopian and second place finisher Buzunesh Deba on the podium after finishing the New York Marathon.
DON EMMERT—AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Women’s division winner Firehiwot Dado embraces fellow Ethiopian and second place finisher Buzunesh Deba on the podium after finishing the New York Marathon.

In the women’s division, Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado, 27, came in first, crossing the Central Park finish line after 2 minutes, 23 minutes and 15 seconds. Dado had trailed Kenyan Mary Keitany by nearly two and a half minutes at the 15-mile mark. Dado pulled a surprise victory after passing her with just about a mile left to go. Keitany eventually came in third, behind Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba. "Because [Keitany had] been running so fast from the very beginning, I didn't imagine that we'd catch her," Dado told reporters through an interpreter. "But when we did get closer and we saw her, I was very surprised and I was very happy."

Big Apple Marathon

The annual marathon event has become a New York tradition that attracts runners from all over the world. The first race was held in 1970, with 127 runners participating in a course that looped through Central Park in Manhattan. In 1976, marathon co-founder Fred Lebow reorganized the course route so that it took runners through New York City’s five boroughs, starting in Staten Island and racing through Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan. Organizers added wheelchair and hand cycle divisions in 2000.

New York Marathon runners make their way through the city’s Queens borough. The cool, sunny weather made for good running conditions.
KATHY KMONICEK—AP
New York Marathon runners make their way through the city’s Queens borough. The cool, sunny weather made for good running conditions.

This year, a record 47,438 runners started the race, while thousands of spectators lined the route to cheer them on. Marathon runners included some familiar faces, like Olympic speedskating gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno. He finished his first-ever marathon in 3 hours, 25 minutes, 14 seconds and earned a $26,200 donation for the Special Olympics from his sponsor, Subway. "I went from short, ballistic-type 1.5 minute training to something that last 3 hours, 24 minutes longer," Ohno said. "The last 6.2 miles are gruesome. My body isn’t designed for this."

Race to the Altar

Completing the New York Marathon is a significant milestone for many runners. But one couple made the day even more special. Runners Raymond Donaldson and Mary Martin, who had previously met through running, got married during this year’s race. The pair dressed in half-wedding/half-running clothes, with the bride wearing a white baseball cap with a veil attached. A minister ran alongside the couple to officiate the wedding at the 22-mile mark, while members of their families watched on the sidelines.