History of the Marathon

The New York City Marathon, now referred to as the TCS New York City Marathon (due to a sponsorship) is the world’s largest in terms of the number of runners who finish it. The number is more than 50,000 as of the last few years.

The race is usually run in early November and watched by millions in person and millions more on TV as the runners wend their way through all five boroughs of the city. The starting point is on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island and it ends at Central Park’s Tavern on the Green in Manhattan.

Only once since the inaugural race in 1970 has the Marathon ever been called off. That happened in 2012, and was due to surface conditions left by Hurricane Sandy.

For its current popularity, the New York City Marathon had a modest start. Runners Fred Lebow, Vincent Chiappetta and Ted Corbitt planned the race and drew up the course in 1970. In that first year, the 127 runners simply coursed around Central Park enough times to make it an official 26.2-mile run. Only a scant 55 runners finished.

The entry fee in 1970? One dollar.

Famous (and Infamous) Runners

The marathon draws long-distance runners from all over the world. Norwegian runner Grete Waitz set a new women’s marathon record in 1978, the first of nine times she would take home the top prize for women. That number of wins is tops for any category.

In 2017, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the race since 1977.

None seemed a less likely winner — not to mention future record-setter — than one Rosie Ruiz. Unknown among the long-distance running community, she won the women’s division in 1979 and hardly seemed out of breath. Her winning time earned her an automatic invite to the Boston Marathon a few months later, and she won it in record time.

The unlikeliness of the twin victories got race officials looking harder and it was found that she’d barely run a half-mile each time by entering the race near the finish line. She never admitted to falsification, but she was disqualified and other female runners were declared winners in both races. Naturally, that was before computer chips made cheating much less likely.

Celebrities who’s run at least one New York City Marathon include Sean Combs, Will Ferrell, Pamela Anderson, Kevin Hart, Katie Holmes and Ryan Reynolds.

The New York City Marathon is an experience unlike any other. Runners from around the world gather together to talk, have fun, interact with like-minded individuals, challenge themselves, and above all else, run. If you’ve ever considered running the marathon, do it. You won’t be disappointed.