Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue morphed into an international highway of dreams as a record-breaking human ribbon of marathon runners from across the globe pounded the pavement and challenged their spunk during the world’s largest epic race %u2013 complete with a sweet serenade awaiting them at 38th Street from local cover band “Lovebutton.”
The 40th Annual New York City Marathon, organized by the Road Runners Club, attracted more than 43,000 runners, amblers and walkers %u2013 plus a healthy contingent of disabled athletes %u2013 from all 50 states and more than 100 nations, who vied for a prize purse of more than $800,000 by hoofing a 26.2-mile course, which began at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and criss-crossed the five boroughs before finishing at Central Park, with a newly-minted American winning the scepter for Uncle Sam for the first time in 27 years.
A spirited sampling of sportsmen and women, some in wheelchairs, others outfitted with prosthetic legs, but all hoping to claim major bragging rights, coursed along 4th Avenue past Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Park Slope to cheers by throngs of spectators who had waited for hours behind barricades to view the thrilling spectacle of human endurance from athletes who had been selected by lottery from a pool of 100,000 applicants.
The human deluge soared to the Queensboro Bridge for a roundtrip on Manhattan and a brief stop in the Bronx before finishing outside the world-famous Tavern on the Green.
Men’s winner Meb Keflezighi, an Eritrean émigré and a 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, crossed the finish line in a personal best of 2:09:15, becoming the first American to win the race since Alberto Salazar in 1982.
Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia claimed the women’s title, and the first New York City Marathon win for her country, also in a personal best time of 2:28:52.
This year’s race was viewed by an estimated two million spectators on the streets of New York City, and a worldwide audience of 315 million.