by Thom Friend
Gena Wilson, a cancer survivor, shows off her medal at the finish line of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. She is surrounded by her Team in Training Coaches. Wilson, 47, finished the marathon in 9 hours, 40 minutes and 47 seconds.
by Ben Shapiro
None of the remaining spectators could quite get the facts straight. “She is from Sweden,” a man said. “No, born and raised in Scotland,” another person chimed in. “I think she is the first person to run the marathon with this rare disease,” someone said hesitantly. The people gathered late last night at the finish line of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon did not know the story behind Gena Wilson’s life, but she was part of their team, and they were going to wait for her to finish the race.
Originally from South Carolina and now living in Glasgow, Scotland, Gena Wilson was one of the last people to finish the NYC marathon yesterday. Although, it was not her country of residence that made Gena a big hit at the race’s finish line in Central Park, but rather that she has survived two bouts of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her most recent battle came in 2013, where doctors told her family to get on the first plane to Scotland because they though she was not going to live much longer.
“The cancer had come back in the form of a brain tumor,” said Wilson, 47, who was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011. “I really was not supposed to live.”
Wilson, who works at a Christian mission organization in Glasgow, credits god for keeping her alive. It is the only way she can come to terms with how she was able to beat cancer twice, and come out of the process strong enough to complete a marathon. Along with working for a mission, Wilson, who now has completed her second marathon, uses these events to share her story, and inform people of the power of faith.
“The reason why I wanted to run is because, well, god healed me,” said Wilson. “My main thing is to tell the world that oh my goodness, I shouldn’t be here, but look what an amazing god who controls everything did for me, once again.”
On top of trying spreading her religion, Wilson also ran the New York City Marathon in order to raise money to help fight cancer. Wilson was part of Team in Training, an organization sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that trains people to complete endurance competitions, and in return the participants raise money for cancer research. For Sunday’s marathon, the group began training five months in advance, following a strict fitness regiment that included meeting twice a week for team conditioning sessions. Living in Scotland, Wilson did not have the ability to train with her teammates, but she was able to find people willing to help.
“I was just doing my own walking plan,” said Wilson. “It was hard, but there were so many people that were such a blessing. Tons of people walked with me.”
Despite not preparing with Team in Training, Wilson was mobbed with hugs and high fives from coaches and members of the team when she finished the race around 8:30 p.m., good for a time of 9 hours, 40 minutes, and 47 seconds. Wilson appreciated their support during and after the race, but she was truly grateful for her family whom she knows she would not have been able to complete the New York City Marathon without.
“I couldn’t have made it without my mom and sister,” said Wilson, who was joined by the two for the last few miles of the race. “My mom and sister were the ones who came up here, spent the week, and just did everything for me.”
Sisters, Naerim Kim and Chaerim Smith hold signs for their sister, Lana Kim. Photo by Neil Giardino.
by Neil Giardino
Blustery winds and icy temperatures didn’t deter a crowd of hundreds from showing support for 2014 TCS New York City Marathon runners in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood today. On the corner of Lafayette and S. Portland Avenues, spirits were high and neon paper signs held higher as a river of runners of New York City’s 44th annual marathon rushed by.
Planted firmly at the course’s ninth mile marker, sisters Naerim Kim and Chaerim Smith screamed in support of their older sister Lana Kim, who passed just moments before. “She’s looking good. She’s looking really strong,” said Kim, of the Financial District. Kim attends the marathon every year, but this race is particularly special because she gets to cheer on family. “This is her first time to ever run it, so we’re here to support her,” said Kim.
To her side, and with neon-yellow banner in hand, stood sister Chaerim Smith, of Washington, D.C. All puns aside, for the sisters, athleticism truly does run in the family. Smith recently ran her own marathon. “We were both training at the same time. She came down to see me and cheer me on at the Marine Core Marathon last week, so I’m here now for her,” she said, referring to her sister.
By mile nine, runners appeared to be easing into a comfortable stride which would send them weaving – and ultimately heaving – through a 26.2 mile course spanning all five of the city’s boroughs, and finally concluding in the southwestern corner of Central Park in Manhattan. The New York City Marathon is the largest in the world, and Kim and Smith aimed to support their sister in at least two boroughs. Their next stop was Harlem, where they aimed to cheer their sister Lana Kim on along the course’s 22nd mile.
While Kim has no plans to run a marathon any time soon, Smith says it’s that sense of accomplishment that keeps her running competitively. “It gives such a good sense of discipline, and it’s a great challenge,” she said.
Mary Thabobaldi, 65, of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, has been supporting NYC marathon runners for 34 years. Photo by Ellie Miao
by Ellie Miao
Hundreds of spectators came to the Queensboro Bridge this afternoon to cheer on the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon runners at mile 15. Mary Thabobaldi, 65 of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, came out of respect for the runners.
“They all run with some faith or for some one,” said Thabobaldi. “I cheer for them because they cheer me up in life. I never missed a single marathon in New York City in 34 years.”
There are many runners that stood out for her over the years, Kiki Homer was one of them. Thabobaldi knew Homer through work, but had no idea that she was the younger sister of a national hero.
Holmer’s brother, LeRoy Wilton Homer, Jr., was the co-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, a plane that was hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. During passengers and crewmembers’ fight with the terrorists, the plane crashed, avoiding its intended target, the nation’s capital.
In memory of her brother and other people who sacrificed their lives to protect homeland security, Homer ran her first New York City marathon with 15 other Flight 93 relatives in 2002, one year after her brother’s death.
“I was right here at the Queensboro Bridge, saw her wearing a picture of her big brother, it was incredible,” said Thabobaldi.
In 2011, marking the 10th anniversary of the plane crash, Homer ran again for her brother. And of course, Thabobaldi was there, too.
She was also impressed by Homer’s family, who supported her through the race.
“They tracked her, showed up here on the platform bridge right at the time when she passed by, cheered for her, and then hopped on the train to the next stop,” she said.
It was the same platform where Thabobaldi always stood on to watch the running, but this year things are a little different—police banned spectators from assembling there. Thabobaldi said she missed her old spot with great views, but she understood that the police was doing this for security reasons.
“They are trying to make sure nothing happens like on the Boston Marathon, you can’t blame them,” she said.
Thabobaldi described the Boston blast as “one of the worst things that ever happened”, but the terror didn’t end her enthusiasm to attend marathons in New York City. She is confident about the resilience of New Yorkers.
“Not only me, I think no one in this city was deterred by that,” she said.
Thabobaldi said one of her favorite things about the marathons is the diversity.
“People from all over the world are running,” she said. “I love to see that. I will keep coming here and support it every year.”
Ross Carlisle, of Brooklyn, holds up at sign at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon to support his brother who is running the race. The sign references a line from the movie, “The Fast and the Furious” and is an inside joke between the brothers. Photo by Joanna Bouras
by Joanna Bouras
Ross Carlisle, of Brooklyn, searched through a sea of fluorescent runners, with his family in quest of his brother.
Stationed at the 24-mile mark of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park, this afternoon, they waved brightly colored signs as the family cheered and encouraged runners on. Carlisle, 28, was positioned to give his brother the final kick of adrenaline he needed to finish the race.
His brother Lee Carlisle, 30, was running to qualify for the Boston Marathon in April 2015. He has been trying to for several years.
“Its inspiring to see all the different types of runners from people with disabilities to senior athletes,” said Carlise.
With the predicted wind conditions runners knew that it wasn’t going to be a personal best race or a qualifying time race.
Temperatures were at a frigid 52 degrees and wind speeds up to 26mph. Officials said it was slowing down runners by five minutes on average.
“There’s no denying it was a beautiful fall day, said Carlise. “But for a marathon the wind was a bit much.”
Carlise said the most shocking aspect of the marathon was seeing competitors running without shoes on.
“Them some tough toes,” he joked.
Accompanied by his family, he had also been nervous they would miss his brother when large masses of runners came panting through at once. Dressed in a black hat, white shirt, and black shorts, they figured he would be easy to pick out in the sea of colors.
His mom, aunt, and sister had flown in from Ohio to join in cheering his brother on.
Carlisle thought it was heart warming to see all the fans cheering for strangers as a community, especially at a point where everyone is exhausted.
With reddened noses and jumping to stay warm, Carlisle shouted, “Hit the nos breh,” as he held a sign with the words colored on it.
The phrase is an inside joke between the brothers from the movie The Fast and the Furious.
Being at the 24th mile, Carlisle chanted encouraging words at runners that looked like they were struggling.
To give them a boost he cheered their names and offered high fives as they passed by.
This is Carlisle’s first time seeing the race up close.
“It’s usually just another NYC road block on my way to work,” he said. “It’s so nice to see how supportive and friendly everyone is.”
Carlisle and his family picked their race location based on good photo opportunities and where the after parties would be.
“Marathon parties complete with mimosas and bloody marys,” he said.
Carlisle has never participated in a marathon before, but is currently training with New York Road Runners to train for next years.
Vicky Almendarez and her group show their support with signs at the TSC NYC Marathon in The Bronx. Photo by Christina Dun
by Christina Dun
A sea of neon colors and sweaty smiles make it past the mile 20 mark in The Bronx, with J-Lo’s “Jenny From The Block” fittingly pumping through the speakers on Alexander Avenue.
Getting to mile 20 is a big deal. The Bronx is known for being one of the most tiring spots in the TCS New York City Marathon, with only 6.2 miles until the anticipated finish line.
With music at every block and the community showing their support, the high energy from bystanders was contagious. Bronx resident Vicky Almendarez cheered from the sidelines, handing out slices of oranges to the perspiring runners.
“It’s mile 20. Everybody is in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but this is The Bronx. This is almost toward that point where you just want to give up, so we want to give them all the support that we can,” she said. “We’re also from The Bronx so we want to represent our borough.”
The marathon brings out all types of people, ranging from tourists to local passersby.
“It’s a whole family affair,” said Almendarez, 35, who brought along her fiancé, her fiancé’s brother and a close friend.
Braving the cold, Almendarez and her clan were supporting Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB), a nationwide organization that helps veterans acclimate back into society, through a variety of activities, including triathlons, social gatherings and other fitness programs.
“It takes a lot of courage to do this and as a runner, you need all the support you can get to get you through those 26 miles,” she said. “It means a lot when people are out here cheering you on.”
She said it’s great to be part of such a tight-knit community.
“Only less than two per cent of the American population does marathons, so you figure you’re part of the elite and you feel good,” she said. “You start to meet friends and train together and it’s a great support system.”
Almendarez has been watching the marathon on television for quite some time and has been making it out to support on the streets for the past five years.
This year, they held handmade signs and yelled words of encouragement to all the runners coming through. One sign even read, “Free hugs if you’re not wearing underwear.”
They got a lot of hugs today.
Tracy Spatteri(left), a founder of Canada’sm Dungog Runners team, standing with her fellow teammates Jane Rait-Parks(center), and Scott Parks (right) at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. Photo by Raz Robinson
by Raz Robinson
For many of its’ participants the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon is a test of strength, but for a group of Canadian spectators it’s an opportunity to greet friends from around the globe and share in their love of running.
As the sea of runners made their way through Williamsburg, from the side of Bedford Avenue today, Tracy Spatteri and Jane Rait-Parks of Ottawa Canada frequently put their conversation on hold to bellow “Yeah Canada!” every time a participant sporting the maple leaf ran by.
Both Women made the seven-hour drive from Ottawa to support their friends and family running in the marathon.
“There’s 50,000 people running here today, the city loves it, and it’s just the best,” said Spatteri, 44. “It’s amazing, 120 countries represented, and it feels like we’re all just one big happy running family today.”
Spatteri and Rait-Parks are part of a larger international running team they helped put together after last year’s marathon. The team refers to themselves as the Dungog Dashers. They take their name from Dungog, a country town in Australia where one of the groups’ originators lives.
Spatteri clung tightly to a small open umbrella, covered in Canada’s red and white and adorned with pictures representing each nation in the group. As the pictures hanging from the sides of the umbrella become a mess of tape and paper in the wind, the groups’ wide reach became evident.
“The team is from all over, we all met at the marathon last year,” said Rait-Parks. “We’re here just cheering, and running, and supporting each other… we came back together on Facebook after last years marathon and have just continued our relationship since then.”
The Dungog Dashers, inside of the marathon, are just a microcosm of international spirit. Rait-Parks emphasized how events like the New York City marathon are good for the world.
“I think it’s pretty neat that people from around the world are all doing the same sport together. It’s good for world unity I’d say,” said Rait-Parks. “Running is the most basic sport you could ever do right? You start out in one place and you get to another place. It doesn’t take anything fancy, It’s natural. No crazy equipment’s involved, and it knows no socio-economic boundaries; and that’s why it brings people together.”
Justin Wood of Manhattan, wears his sombrero for the third year in a row during the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday. Photo by Evgeniya Zolkina
By Evgeniya Zolkina
Justin Wood knows that the best spot to cheer on 2014 TCS New York City Marathon is near mile 17 in Spanish Harlem.
“People still have energy, and they can still receive all of that support,” said Wood, 29, about today’s runners. The Manhattanite joined his friends at 103rd Street and First Avenue, donning a giant sombrero on his head.
A runner gave him the hat when the 2011 marathon was canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Now, Wood wears the sombrero every year.
“It’s a symbol of the triumph of people who’ve spirited bad situations,” he said. “It`s also very identifiable, so it`s a great thing to wear when I`m cheering on the race.”
Wood is a marathon runner himself. What started as a bucket list challenge became his passion for years. He completed eight marathons, each requiring three months of intense training and dieting. Today, Wood opted for the cheering line.
“I won’t pay for the race again. It’s too much money,” he said. “It’s $250 if you’re not a member of Road Runners. It’s about $10 a mile or about $1 a minute for me. It’s not worth it.”
Cow bells and kazoos sounded around bright posters and costumed supporters who came to watch 40,000 people who signed up for 26.2 miles of leg work.
“Go Scott! Go Scott!” Wood shouted. “That guy went to my high school in Nebraska.”
Wood estimated that he knew around 50 people in the race. The NYU graduate student leads group runs in his spare time.
“I love marathon day, and I come out here and I cheer for hours and hours,” Wood said. “It’s just good to give people the support when they need it.”
While many spectators sipped on their morning coffee, Wood predicted the crowd’s energy would pick up later in the day.
“It will be madness, elation, celebration, just a full spectrum of motivating runners, and that’s what I love about marathon day,”he said. “The spirit of the city comes through.”
Pat Corsilli, 64, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, proudly shows off the hats and gloves she collected from warm runners at 2014 TSC New York CIty Marathon. She will give the clothing to people in need. Photo by Virginia Gunawan.
All that was left from the chilly 2014 TSC New York City Marathon in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, by 11.30 a.m today, was the amount of clothing thrown off the bodies of the runners.
After running two miles across the Verrazano Bridge, they started to strip off their gloves, hats, and jackets.
Standing on the side of 92nd street, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Pat Corsilli, 64, loudly cheered as the runners ran past her discarding their layers as the sound of beating drums, courtesy of a drum filled the streets. But while waiting for the next wave of runners, she went to middle of the street and collected the clothing the runners threw off their now warmed up bodies.
“If you could give me the hats and the gloves, I’ll give you this jacket,” said the Dyker Heights, Brooklyn residence to another clothes collector. “I don’t need this (jacket).”
Corsilli was not the only spectator who collected thrown clothing along the marathon course. But she was specifically looking for hat and gloves because she has a mission.
“I give them to people who want to shovel the snow,” she said.
During the winter, many Mexican immigrants would come knocking on her door and offer to shovel snow off her driveways.
“I’d say, I shovel my own snow, but if you need hats and gloves, you can help yourself,” she said.
She didn’t want any jackets because hats and gloves are easier to store and those are the most needed by the people who knocked on her door, she said.
Today, she collected a big bag of hats and gloves. She said she would then sort paired gloves and decent hats, wash them, and put it in a basket in front of her door.
For her the marathon has been exciting and she has been an enthusiast spectator for 16 years.
“You know today is the marathon when you can hear the helicopter hovering above your head,” Corsilli said.
But she has only started collecting hats and gloves three years ago. The idea came from the real estate agent who helped her find her current house in Brooklyn. The agent volunteers at her church’s clothing donations and Corsilli thought it was a great idea to help those who need them.
“These are wearable, why do we want to throw it away?” she said while rubbing off the autumn leave of a Union Jack glove.
As the last runner passed and the drummers stopped playing, sweeper trucks came along. Whatever clothing was left on the street would be swept away and considered garbage.
Patrick Hays and wife Rosina Hays of Bensonhurst Brooklyn cheer 2014 TNC New York City Marathon runners on just before mile six. Photo by Megan Jamerson
by Megan Jamerson
A sense of humor can come in handy when running the 26.2 mile TCS 2014 New York City Marathon course.
Standing on the corner of 39th Street and 4th Avenue, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn this morning, Patrick Hays’s goal is to help runners keep a smile. He held a sign that read in bright red letters “Want to finish fast?” Below it were simple to follow subway instructions on how to take the train from 36th Street to Columbus Circle. He explained this would deliver you a short jog from the marathon finish line.
“It’s not sanctioned, it’s just a suggestion,” said Hays of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn laughing. “There’s a question mark at the end.”
Runners are taking notice of his clever suggestion, and Hays is getting a number of smiles, out of breath laughs and high fives.
“I know they appreciate it,” said Hays of his sign.
Hays knows because in 2010 he completed his first New York City Marathon. Today he is standing on the same corner his family occupied to cheer him on four years ago. Every year since then he and his wife now return to encourage runners. According to Hays, there is a very simple reason for camping out just before mile six.
“Because the runners are happy here,” said Hays, 52. “You don’t feel the discomfort in your feet and knees. You’re just happy.”
In his personal marathon experience, training was the hardest part. Race day was all about having fun, and the crowds were what made the experience complete for him.
“Brooklyn was the best part,” said Hays. “People are just yelling “Yeah”! It carries you all the way through. I don’t even remember running.”
Just then, Hays paused to yell at a male runner wearing a Scotland sweatshirt and kilt. As a sidewalk spectator, seeing people represent their different cultural backgrounds and countries is his favorite part.
“We try to learn to say good luck in a couple different languages,” said Hays. “Then you get to yell at all kinds people, which is the best part.”
Hays and his wife are not alone cheering on the runners who still have 20 more miles ahead. The street is crowded with sidewalk bands, people hanging out of apartment buildings waving flags, and a nearby church holds a cookout. For Hays there is something very unique about the marathon, and one thing in particular stands out in his mind.
“Where else are you going to find 40,000 people insane enough to run 26 miles,” said Hays.
Hays, who trained for the cancelled 2012 marathon due to Hurricane Sandy, said he feels a little bit of that runner’s insanity beginning to creep back in.
“I was just telling my wife I want to do it again,” said Hays. “Every time I come out I get the energy.”
But it will not take him long to figure out if the excitement will last and he is truly committed to racing in 2015.
“If in two weeks from now I’m still sitting at the kitchen table stuffing my face then it’s not happening.”