A Recap of the 2018 New York City Marathon

Some of the most inspiring stories from this year's race.

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Even if you aren’t a runner, you have probably heard of the New York City Marathon, which was held recently on Sunday, November 4th. The race is extremely exciting; it spans 26.2 miles, runs through all five boroughs of New York City, and attracts thousands of people to cheer on the runners. Although the race had humble beginnings in 1970, it has become the world’s largest and most popular marathon, with over 52,000 finishers this year.

The winner of this year’s race was a man named Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, with a time of 2:05:59. Expected to win was Geoffrey Kamworar of Kenya, who instead came in third behind Shura Kitata of Ethiopia. Mary Keitany was the first woman to place with a time of 2:22:48 and an overall place of 26th. She became the second woman to win the marathon four times and ran the second-fastest time for the course in history. Pristine running conditions made it a memorable and record-breaking marathon.

Lesisa Desisa of Ethiopia, the male winner of this year’s marathon. Photo from NPR.
Mary Keitany of Kenya was the first woman to finish. Photo from USA Today.

Every year, the NYC Marathon brings out hope, enthusiasm, and excitement in spectators. It gives participants the chance to work hard, do something amazing, and feel accomplished. Although the actual results are important, everyone who runs has their own story, no matter what place they come in.

Two runners from Monmouth County overcame challenges to run the marathon this year. Back in April, Tracey McGee was running the Boston Marathon when she noticed pain in her hip. When she finished the race, she was in the most pain she had ever been in. It turns out she had a stress fracture in her hip. Gary Franklin was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease in the 1990s. The chemotherapy treatment caused permanent lung damage and nerve damage in his hands and feet. Both thought that they would never be able to run again; however, both participated in the marathon on Sunday and raised thousands of dollars for various charities.

Photo of Tracey McGee from Double G Sports.
Photo of Gary Franklin from Asbury Park Press.

Another story involves a blind runner and his sighted trainer and running partner. Harlem native Anthony Butler was a talented basketball star growing up until he lost his eyesight to a gunshot wound in the head when he was 20 years old. In the midst of his devastation, Butler turned to running as an outlet to help him cope with losing his sight. Years later, he was assigned a sighter trainer/guide named Jessie Rix, who was just looking for company on her runs. After a few months of going on runs, they began dating. After competing in four different marathons in the U.S., Spain, and France, on Sunday they ran the NYC Marathon together.

Photo of Jessie Rix (left) and Anthony Butler from ABC News.

Robby Ketchell is a father from Portsmouth, NH, who crossed the finish line carrying his 7-month old son, Wyatt, who has Down Syndrome. Ketchell’s goal was to break 3 hours and 21 minutes on the course since Down Syndrome is characterized by a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Although Ketchell didn’t reach his goal (he finished with a time of 3:40), he raised over $11,000 for the cause. Knowing he wasn’t going to finish in time, Ketchell texted his wife, Marya, to get ready to transfer Wyatt into his arms. Crossing the finish line with Wyatt in his arms, Ketchell was crying alongside people he didn’t even know. Marya later wrote in a post on Instagram, “Wyatt runs 5 marathons a day. His feeding therapists say that eating is so hard for him, and requires so much effort, that finishing a bottle is like running 26.2 miles… And yet, he continues to fight and we will continue to fight for him (always will).”

Robby Ketchell carries son Wyatt across the finish line. Photo from Runner’s World.

The New York City Marathon not only gives top runners a chance to succeed, but also gives normal people an outlet to support their cause. There is nothing analogous to the feeling of taking part in something so big in such a supporting and uplifting environment. Hopefully the marathon continues to be a tradition that embodies what it means to be a New Yorker.