Christopher Halajian on the New York City Marathon: The World’s Largest Marathon
When Christopher Halajian moved to California for his graduate studies, one of the things he missed doing was watching the New York City Marathon from the sidelines. Since he moved to California, he had been following the annual marathon on TV. Next year, Christopher Halajian hopes to visit New York City in time for the annual NYC Marathon, which happens every first Sunday of November.
From 127 participants to more than 50,000
Forty-seven years ago, Christopher Halajian shares, the first New York City Marathon was held. Established by Fred Lebow with the help of Ted Corbitt, it only had 127 participants, and the course only covered repeated loops around Central Park. This was in 1970, and only about a hundred spectators came to watch. Of the 127 participants, only 55 crossed the finish line.
Gary Muhrcke holds the prestigious distinction of being the first ever winner of the New York City Marathon. He clocked a total running time of 2:31:38, and as mentioned above, only 100 spectators witnessed what would become a historic event.
From 1976 up to the present, the marathon course now runs through the five boroughs of New York City, covering roughly about 42.195 kilometers or 26.219 miles. Over the years, participation grew from a couple of hundred to several thousand, reaching up to a record high of 46,795 official finishers in 2011.
Former professional athletes, celebrities, and other notable personalities have participated in the marathon. For Christopher Halajian, of note are Mark Messier (former NHL player), former Dutch soccer player Edwin van der Sar, and Alex Zanardi former CART champion.
The race isn’t without its own share of controversies too, shares Christopher Halajian. In 1979, Rosie Ruiz qualified for the Boston Marathon after finishing the New York City Marathon with a time of 2:56:29—a time that was mistakenly given as it was later determined she didn’t run the entire course. Both the NYC Marathon and Boston Marathon officials rescinded the runner’s time.
The most tragic and heartbreaking event, however, occurred in 2008 when three runners died immediately after completing the race; with one collapsing during the actual marathon and passing several days after. His name was Fred Costa; he was from Staten Island and only 41 years old when he died. All three participants died from an apparent heart attack.
Carlos Jose Gomes (Brazil) collapsed after completing the race. It was determined that he had a pre-existing heart condition before the marathon and died from a heart attack. He was 58.
Christopher Halajian shares that another participant who also died from a heart attack hours after the 2008 marathon was a 4-time NYC Marathon participant. Joseph Marotta (Staten Island) was 66.
If you are looking to participate in any kind of marathon, Christopher Halajian would like to remind you to undergo a thorough medical examination first and get your doctor’s approval before training for the marathon. It would also be best to have yourself checked again a day or two before the actual race just to be on the safe side.