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NYC Marathon: Embracing community

Dave Silverstein dances as rock band The Tash Brothers perform behind him in Bay Ridge on Nov. 1. Photo by Rhea Mahbubani

Dave Silverstein dances as rock band The Tash Brothers perform behind him in Bay Ridge on Nov. 1. Photo by Rhea Mahbubani

Motivated by the desire to encourage runners, Dave Silverstein danced for two hours on the sidewalk along Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Sunday.

“It’s a beautiful thing for people to be running with disabilities and with goals such as raising money for charity,” said the 55-year-old Flatbush resident, who danced to the beat of The Tash Brothers, a local rock band that has been performing at the New York City Marathon for about 18 years.

“It’s a great moment when the runners cross the band,” Silverstein said. “Rain or shine, we keep the runners going. They can’t only run on cookies and bananas.”

An estimated 42,000 participants of the 40th New York City Marathon stepped off the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and barreled through Bay Ridge early Sunday morning.

Droves of residents and local business owners gathered on both sides of Bay Ridge’s Fourth Avenue to cheer on the athletes. The crowd did not seem to mind the damp, cold weather. Instead, they whistled, clapped and urged runners with signboards reading “Go Runners” and “You are all winners.”

Manoj Ramachandran of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Photo by Rhea Mahbubani

Manoj Ramachandran of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Photo by Rhea Mahbubani

Manoj Ramachandran of Bay Ridge was one of the first to arrive in support of his friends and colleagues who were running. Despite being dressed in worn shorts and flip-flops, he was not deterred by the chill.

“This is a huge event,” said Ramachandran, a marketing consultant from Wall Street. “There are people here from all over the globe, and it’s important to show local support.”

A few feet away, children reached out to high-five runners while others shouted out names and countries from runners’ clothes. All the runners acknowledged the crowd, whether they ran by in Halloween costumes and bright pink leotards, or walked by, stretching cramped muscles.

Originally from Bangalore, India, Ramachandran believes people tend to encounter prejudices associated with being an “outsider” in smaller cities in the United States. In New York, however, people “embrace you into their community from day one” because, Ramachandran said, everyone here is a “transplant from another place.”

“For this reason, the marathon is part of what New York City stands for — ambition, opportunity, multiculturalism and diversity,” Ramachandran said, as a runner, grinning widely, made a beeline for the audience, flung her arms around a friend and dashed away. “It’s a great thing to watch people coming together from different walks of life, age groups, nationalities and different levels of ability.”

Two bands, only three streets apart, belted songs from loudspeakers while different colored clothes rained down as runners discarded scarves, gloves and sweaters.

Ramachandran left the marathon inspired more than ever before.

“I will definitely run next year,” he said.

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