“The marathon can humble you.” – Bill Rodgers
NEW YORK CITY – My coverage of the 47th New York City Marathon on November 5 was the most thrilling.
I became a sports journalist and spectator rolled into one.
As soon as I saw Shalane Flanagan emerge in the lead pack escorted by two motorcycles and a Ford vehicle carrying a flashing time (2:20:34) in the Central Park’s Fifth Avenue, I yelled.
I itched to cheer the runners as they were about to complete the 42.195-kilometer race that was irresistible for someone who witnessed the tight race as it happened.
Seeing the runners being egged and cheered by the crowd evoked past memories when I myself was running in the Nike and Milo Marathons in the Philippines in the 80’s.
I chose that area, some 800 meters away from the finish line, because it’s a picture-perfect camera ambush, and because only a handful of fans were comfortable or brave enough to wait in that isolated route.
I was surprised to see a Caucasian leading the women’s race alone. In the past when I covered the same event on the same spot, I saw African runners dominate the distaff side.
The white lady turned out to be Flanagan, who became the first American to win the race at 2:26:53 since Miki Gorman accomplished the feat in 1977.
Flanagan bested three-time champion and recent London Marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya by a minute (2:27:54).
Using a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge cellphone camera, I captured Flanagan, Keitany, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska (2:28:08) as they struggled and barreled their way to the final 800 meters of the biggest and most prestigious marathon on earth.
What made the race so special was Flanagan, who crossed the finish line crying and yelling, ended United States’ drought in the New York City Marathon.
Rounding out the women’s top 10 were: Edna Kiplagat (2:29:36), Allie Kieffer (2:29:39), Sara Dossena (2:29:39), Eva Vrabcova (2:29:41), Kellyn Taylor (2:29:56), Diane Nukuri (2:31:21) and Stephanie Bruce (2:31:44).
Flanagan’s victory was big. She foiled Keitany’s attempt to equal the record of Grete Waitz to become the second woman to win the New York City Marathon four times.
It came five days after the bike path terror attack in Lower Manhattan killed eight and raised questions about security for Sunday’s event.
That hit home for Flanagan, a Massachusetts native who completed the 2013 Boston Marathon shortly before a bomb went off at the finish line, killing three and wounding more than 260 others.
The men’s category also pulled a lot of drama. When the lead pack arrived on the area where I positioned myself, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor was in front being chased by countryman Wilson Kipsang.
In a mad dash to the finish, Kamworor held off Kipsang by three seconds. He logged 2:10:53 against Kipsang’s 2:10:56. Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa finished third at 2:11:32.
Rounding out the men’s top 10 were: Lemi Berhanu (2:11:52), Tadesse Abraham (2:12:01), Michel Butter (2:12:39), Abdi Abdirahman (2:12:48), Koen Naert (2:13:21), Fikadu Girma Teferi (2:13:58) and Shadrack Biwott (2:14:57)
It was one of the smallest margins in the New York City Marathon’s history, it was learned.