New York City Marathon Logo TCSNew York, N. Y. —  Well, here we are together again, New York, New York with two huge races looming ahead. One we can’t wait for, the other we can’t wait to be over.

One pits fields of finely tuned athletes against one another in a long 42 km grind through the five boroughs of the city. The other pits two BMI challenged pols in a death match march through the electoral map of 50 states.

Personally, I feel like a runner in the final kilometers of a marathon on a bad day. I am psychologically blistered, emotionally cramping, and I have election year chafing in places that gentlemen just don’t speak about. And I fear that the bleeding nipples of despair may lie just around the corner.

Thank God, the 46th TCS New York City Marathon (40th for five-borough course) arrives first on Sunday to grab our attention and tire us out a bit.

It’s been unbelievable. Have you been following this? What in God’s name were were the founders thinking?

“Oh, hell, just let the people decide.”

The people?  You mean all of them?!! Are you out of your mind?!

You think the marathon is tough.

Oh, it’s been a spirited battle. It was a 17-person lead pack on the Republican side and a two-person duel for the Dems.

Funny Pants took it by a furlong for the quasi incumbents. Poopy Drawers pinched one out for the insurgency.

Now the race is tightening like a germaphobe’s fist hovering over an airport escalator handrail. Thankfully, Sunday’s foot race 🏁 is less toxic and binary.

A thin but top-heavy field on the men’s side is led by defending champion Stanley Biwott of Kenya, while two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa and 2015 IAAF World Champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Ethiopia present the most likely challenge. Dathan Ritzenhein leads a strong U.S. contingent.

Bill Rodgers and Tom Fleming lead inaugural Five-borough NYC Marathon over Verrazano Narrows Bridge
40 years ago Bill Rodgers and Tom Fleming lead inaugural Five-borough NYC Marathon over Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Olympic silver medalist Frank Shorter in third.

In 1976, the first of the five-borough races, there was nine-man pack striking out over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge with eventual champion Bill Rodgers of Boston (2:10:10) already at the determining front position.

By comparison in 2013 there were nine athletes still in the hunt as late as the Madison Avenue Bridge at 21 miles, which has become the new breaking point on the New York course.

But with a smaller elite field this year, the odds against an early push grow stronger, which is likely to produce fireworks late into Central Park.


On the women’s side there have been seven women who have won two in a row in New York, but only the late great Grete Waitz of Norway has won three straight, 1978 to 1980, and five straight, 1982 to 1986. England’s Paula Radcliffe has won three, but not consecutively.

This year Mary Keitany of Kenya goes for the three-peat. She will be challenged by Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia, a three-time Dubai Marathon Champion and former national record holder at 2:19:51. But New York ain’t no Dubai slip-and-slide. Also hunting for victory will be Kenya’s Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist over 10,000 meters and most decorated NCAA runner in history.

But a real interest lies in the debut of Molly Huddle, Notre Dame grad, U.S. record holder at 10,000 meters (30:13.17 in Rio Olympics )and  two-time United Air New York City Half Marathon champion (American record 1:07:41 in 2016).

The Providence, Rhode Island based Huddle seens perfectly built for the marathon, and could figure for a podium position, which would be the first for an American deb since Shalane Flanagan took second in 2:28:40 in NYC in 2010 and Kara Goucher took third in 2008 in 2:25:53.

The close gap between the Rio Games and Sunday’s start is a question for Huddle, especially considering that Mary Keitany was not selected for the Kenyan Olympic team after falling and finishing 9th in London this spring.  That snub had people shaking their heads as Keitany hadn’t finished lower than second in a marathon in the previous two years. That means New York will be Mary’s chance to show her stuff on full power against those who were running there.

Big week ahead by all reckoning. First a race that celebrates all that’s positive in the human condition, followed by a second that already has Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln rolling over in their graves.  Let’s hope the Americans lining up on the big bridge on Sunday don’t get so despondent by the possibilities come Tuesday that they leap rather than just cross over to begin their journey



  1. Hi Toni. There has been a more recent case of an American woman debuting on the NYC podium. Shalane Flanagan was 2nd place in 2:28:40 in NYC in 2010 in what I believe was her first-ever marathon. Edna Kiplagat won that day in what was her breakthrough to the World Marathon Majors.
    See you in NYC this weekend, right?

  2. Excellent write up, Toni. And your description of the grueling election season, while very humorous, is unfortunately, spot-on!

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