Jessica Duran, who completed the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in 10:00:12, proudly displayed her medal near the finish line (the timer pictured reset after 10:00:00). This was the 35 year-old Bronx-born Staten Island resident’s first marathon. Picture by Eli Kurland.

 

With tears streaming down her face, Jessica Duran fulfilled a life-long dream by crossing the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon’s finish line. She completed the event with the closest time to exactly 10 hours, coming in at 10:00:12.

But race time mattered little to Duran or her husband and three daughters, all locking into a group hug the moment both her feet stayed planted on the ground.

“I didn’t have any expectation but I knew I had to finish,” Duran said. “I needed to show my little daughters that if I can do this, they can do this. I did it because of them. I didn’t think I was able to fulfill this dream until God and my heart took me to the finish line.”

Duran, 35, was born and raised in the Bronx but lives in Staten Island now. Completing her first marathon in New York City elevated this experience even higher for her, especially since it began in Staten Island.

“Your first marathon has to be in New York City,” she said. “There’s nothing like it. I cross the Verrazano Bridge (connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn) every day to go to work and now I’ve ran it. My husband’s from Brooklyn and the vibe there today was fantastic. And when I got to Queens I saw my dad, and I had a moment. He just told me, ‘Keep going. Keep going.’”

And she did. But she almost didn’t.

Thirteen miles in, at an emotional low point in her run, Duran noticed a “sweep bus” picking up runners who decided not to continue. These buses follow the marathon at a pace meant for the slower runners, so it hurt her self-esteem to be in the presence of one. Cold and hungry, she seriously debated quitting.

“But I had to accomplish what I’ve wanted to accomplish for a very long time.”

Duran pressed on.

“I doubted myself for a split second but seeing my family and friends – their support for my crazy idea I could do this – a girl who never finished college, a stay at home mom whose priorities are her kids – this is her and her children’s moment.”

She plans to run another marathon in July.