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Facts about the New York City Marathon

Almost as long as the race itself is the list of interesting facts that come along with it. Such a long standing event has curated such history that almost seems unbelievable to the modern runner (take an 8 year old running the marathon, for example!). Here, we look miles back into the past, right from the starting line, to some amazing facts of the New York Marathon.

1. 127 people ran the first ever NYC Marathon, which was just 4 laps around central park. 55 men finished the race, and the only woman competitor dropped out midway.

2. The first ever winner won inexpensive watches and a recycled trophy. This year, the winner will bag $100,000 (and the possibility of time bonuses).

3. It wasn’t until 1972 that women were finally able to take part in the Marathon – provided they start either 10 minutes before or 10 minutes after the men. In protest, the 6 competing females sat down upon their gun signal, and waited until the men began to start running.

4. The first 5 Marathons were restricted to being only in Central Park.

5. In 1977, 8 Year old Wesley Paul, from Columbia, Missouri, ran the Marathon in 3 hours. In 1981 a minimum age for racing was set to 16, and later raised to 18.

6. Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is always played over the loudspeakers to signal the start of the marathon.

7. 26 tonnes of clothing is thrown to the side-lines in the first few miles of the race, which are collected by volunteers and donated to Goodwill.

8. The Bishop Loughlin High School band plays the Rocky theme song continuously at mile 9 until the last runner passes, and has done so since 1979.

9. Last year, 2.3 million paper cups were handed out to runners, containing either the 62,000 gallons of water or 32,000 gallons of Gatorade used throughout the event. .

10. The 2014 Marathon saw competitors from 136 different countries cross the finish line, with runners from the USA making up 59% of participants.

11. In the top 50 fastest New York City Marathon runners of all time, all places are held by runners from Kenya or Ethiopia – excluding American Ryan Hall, who holds the 47th fastest time.

12. In 1986, the last runner crossed the line with a time of 4 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes and 17 seconds. Bob Weiland, a Vietnam veteran, had lost his legs 17 years prior and used only his arms to participate. He stopped to talk to those inspired by his achievement along the way.

13. The Wheelchair and Hand Cycle Division category was introduced to the NYC marathon in 2000, and in 2014 saw 244 athletes, as well as 200 volunteer assistants, participate.

14. Norwegian Grete Waitz was the world’s first great female marathoner, winning the NYC marathon 9 times in the 10 years between 1978 and 1988. She set the world records in three of those races.

15. In 1979, New Yorker Rosie Ruiz faked her marathon win. After 10 miles of running, she took the subway and crossed the finish line by foot. 5 months later, her medal (along with her Boston Marathon medal) were stripped from her.

16. New York Road Runners founder and New York City Marathon father Fred Lebow created Fred’s Friends (now Fred’s Team), the first official New York City Marathon Charity, after contracting brain cancer in 1990. In 2015, over 8,500 charity runners raised $34.5 million for the charity.

17. The marathon has only ever been cancelled once, in 2012, after Superstorm Sandy made the area unfit for the race. Many that were expected to participate in the Marathon instead helped to aid the boroughs that needed recovery support.

18. Katherine Singluff, of Brooklyn, became the one millionth New York City Marathon finisher in 2015, securing her entry into the race for life, and a shopping spree for marathon clothes.


Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.