The New York City Marathon, often referred to as the NYC Marathon, is one of the world’s most famous and prestigious long-distance road races. It has a rich history dating back to its inaugural running in 1970.
Inaugural Race (1970): The New York City Marathon was first held on September 13, 1970, organized by the New York Road Runners (NYRR), a nonprofit running club founded by Fred Lebow and Ted Corbitt. The race was held entirely within Central Park and had 127 entrants, with only 55 participants completing the race. The first NYC Marathon was a low-key event compared to today’s race.
Growth and Relocation (1976): The race grew in popularity and, in 1976, it expanded beyond Central Park to encompass all five boroughs of New York City: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. The iconic five-borough course remains the route for the race to this day.
International Competition (1970s-1980s): The 1970s and 1980s saw increased international participation, with elite athletes from around the world joining the race. In 1976, Norwegian runner Grete Waitz won the women’s race, marking the beginning of a legendary career in the marathon. She went on to win the NYC Marathon nine times, becoming one of its most iconic figures.
Marathon Major (2006): The New York City Marathon became one of the six World Marathon Majors in 2006, alongside other prestigious races like the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and Tokyo Marathons. This elevated its status in the world of long-distance running and drew even more elite athletes.
Tragedy and Resilience (2001): The marathon took on a deeper significance in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The 2001 NYC Marathon was held just two months after the attacks, and it was dedicated to the victims and first responders. The event helped lift the spirits of the city and served as a symbol of resilience.
Record-Setting Performances: Over the years, the NYC Marathon has seen numerous record-setting performances and memorable moments, with world-class athletes achieving remarkable times and overcoming challenges. The course, which includes the challenging climb over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge at the start, is known for its difficulty.
Charity and Fundraising: The NYC Marathon has a strong philanthropic component, with many participants raising money for various charitable causes. The NYRR offers guaranteed entry to runners who commit to fundraising for approved charities.
Cancellation and Adaptation (2020): The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the traditional running of the marathon. In 2020, the race was initially canceled, but a virtual version was organized, allowing runners to participate remotely.
Return to Normalcy (2021): In 2021, the New York City Marathon made a triumphant return to its traditional in-person format, with thousands of runners once again taking to the streets of the city.