As the first wheelchair runner dashed thru the corner of 59th and 5th Avenue, the crowd burst into cheers. They were watching was the first participant of the 2021 New York City Marathon enter the last mile of the 26.2-mile race.
Roy Lalime was excited. He has stood at this corner since 8 a.m. today waiting to cheer. He is a big marathon fan.
“I came to New York City for a concert on Friday and found out that the marathon happened to be today,” said Lalime. “I postponed my flight today back to Florida to Tuesday to watch this marathon.”
Lalime ran the New York City Marathon in 1999, one of many finish lines he has crossed.
“I’ve run 57 marathons and that was the only one I didn’t want to end,” said Lalime. “The crowds were so great and New York City was the best experience ever for a marathon. This city is so beautiful and friendly.”
He said it’s much harder to get into the NYC marathon now than he did in 1999. Back then it was first-come-first-serve and runners didn’t need to prove their capability, he said. Now, one has to have a certified half-marathon or full marathon course finish to be qualified to run the course.
“Many of my friends and people I know who watch marathons always have the impulse to run a marathon after watching a race,” said Lalime. “But when I follow up with them months later, they would find different excuses and give up. It normally takes a year of training and it’s really hard. I get up early, work full-time, and I run.”
Lalime recalled the thrill of getting close to the finish line.
“By the time you get to it, you go through it, you finish, and you complete. There is no other feeling better than the accomplishment. These runners are amazing and they deserve it.”