While most fans standing at the finish line of the New York City Marathon kept their eyes steadfastly fixed on the runners, Terguame Haddis and Selome Argaw, both 28, couldn’t keep their eyes off each other.
“We got married last week,” said Argaw, beaming. She and her husband cuddled in the chilly fall weather in Central Park as the annual marathon unfolded Sunday.
With a recent matrimony to celebrate, the couple from Ethiopia was only more ecstatic when their nation captured the coveted crown in the female division of the race. Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu, 37, finished the 26.2-mile contest ahead of tens of thousands of competitors. She is the first Ethiopian female to win the New York City Marathon in its 40 years of existence.
“We won,” Argaw said with pride. “We won the women’s division.”
After standing at the finish line for three hours, the newlyweds were astounded by the athletes’ completion of the grueling 26.2-mile run. They admit their own exercise schedule is not nearly as demanding.
“I used to run when I was a teenager,” said Haddis, laughing. “But not now.”
His wife shared his sentiments.
“To see someone running for a continuous two hours, it’s not imaginable,” she said. “I can’t even run for twenty minutes.”
Although Argaw doesn’t do much running herself, she came to the race’s edge in Central Park on Sunday prepared for a win, clutching an older version of the Ethiopian flag.
“I brought it from home,” she said, displaying the red, yellow and green-striped flag. “It’s the only one we had.”
Official flag or not, the newlyweds were certainly brandishing the right colors as Ethiopia’s Tulu beat out last year’s victor Paula Radcliffe, of England, for the win. The laurel wreath given to the winner, following marathon tradition, will only bolster Tulu’s already impressive running career.
In 1992, she became the first African female to capture an Olympic gold medal. Her record-setting wins have inspired Ethiopians such as Haddis and Argaw, who value the opportunity to see their athletes compete in the United States.
“She’s one of the greatest runners in Ethiopia,” Haddis said. “To see her winning here in New York, one of the greatest cities in the world, I think it’s really beautiful.”