Special Meaning to This Year’s New York City Marathon


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Nov 6, 2011; New York, NY, USA; Elite women runners Isabellah Anderson , Inga Abitova and Galina Bogomolova run up First Avenue during the 2011 New York City marathon. Mandatory Credit: John O

2013 will see the return of a New York City tradition.

There is special meaning to this year’s New York City marathon. One cannot think of this year’s event without mentioning the fact that last year’s event was canceled on account of Superstorm Sandy. It was the first time that the Marathon was canceled in the 40-year history of the event.

The event’s cancellation did create a spat with the New York Road Runners, who initially still did want the event to take place last year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg in addition to several Olympians who regularly train tirelessly to participate in the Marathon also wanted to continue with last year’s race. Common sense ultimately prevailed and running through Gotham’s Five Boroughs took a backseat to getting the Tri-State area back to normal again.

Even though it has not been in the news as much as of late, there are still areas of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that are still attempting to recover from the events of Superstorm Sandy. No marathon can repair damaged homes, businesses, waterfronts, and schools, but it can serve as another reminder of a city and region’s continued comeback from such a traumatic event.

After last year’s uncertainty caused by Mother Nature, seeing the large multitude of runners on the Verrazano Bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island in the opening portions of the Marathon will restore one of the most revered images in both New York City and international sports.

Indeed, this is what sports do so well apart from other aspects of popular culture and why we gravitate towards sport so much. Sports can be relatively trivial, but there’s a reason why sports are such a treasured part of our culture and indeed why we are fans.

Of course, this year’s Marathon also has special meaning given the events that occurred in April when three people were killed and several hundreds were injured at this year’s Boston Marathon. It was a tragic event for the running community, city, and community. Organizers of the NYC Marathon have already promised an increased security presence.

In addition to the beefed up police presence, there will also be a connection visibly seen between the Boston and New York City Marathons. For the final 400 meters of the Marathon, a yellow line will join the traditional blue line that leads runners through the Marathon’s course. “Boston Strong” became a rallying cry this year throughout the city and country.

The Boston Red Sox won this year’s World Series and celebrated with a “Rolling Rally” on the famed Duck Boats throughout Downtown Boston. Their parade route was different from previous routes because it included a pause at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. They sang “God Bless America” and Jonny Gomes placed the custom made “Boston Strong 617” Red Sox jersey inside the Commissioner’s Trophy at the Boston Marathon finish line.

Nov 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox players Johnny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalmacchia hold jerseys in front of the Boston Marathon finish line during the World Series parade and celebration. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

That, far and away, was the highlight of that parade.

Two tragic and sad news events over the course of the past calendar year have directly affected two of the largest sporting events in America—both being marathons. One was cancelled due to a weather event and the other marred because of an attack. Another will take place on Sunday with the return of the New York City Marathon. Such an event is not only sure to unite the running community that has gone through a lot over the past year, but also will unite two cities only a few hours apart in New York City and Boston. It will also serve to unite sports fans and communities in a gesture of resolve that even when things get tough, the enduring strength of sport as well as that of people always will prevail in the end.

Sports is about to do it again as it has done many times in the past—proving once again why we are fans.