NYC Marathoners Share Their Secrets for Overcoming Obstacles

November 2, 2014 Updated: November 2, 2014

NEW YORK—Runners hid behind each other Sunday as the wind blew through the Verrazano and Queensboro bridges whisking hats away.

The faces ranged from grimaces to narrowed eyes and gritted teeth, each displaying determination to get through the 26.2 miles that spanned all five boroughs. 

The wind didn’t help matters.

“As you lifted your leg this way, your leg would swing that way,” described Theo Morrison, 39, a photographer from Jackson Heights, Queens, who ran for charity Sunday at the suggestion of a colleague. 

“I feel like I need leg surgery now,” Morrison joked. It was his second time running a marathon.

Sunday morning saw both amateurs and Olympians strain their bodies and minds through New York City’s 44th annual marathon.

Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany took home gold, each earning $100,000. Kipsang also won the $500,000 World Marathon Majors bonus thanks to the New York victory. 

Kipsang’s time was 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds while Keitany’s was 2 hours, 25 minutes and 7 seconds. Both had to pace themselves on the windy course. 

American and reigning Boston Marathon champion, Meb Keflezighi, took fourth. 

Buzunesh Deba, a Bronx resident of Ethiopian descent, was ninth in the professional women’s race. Deba was seeking to be the first New Yorker to win the race in 40 years. 

Wilson Kipsang (L) from Kenya leads the male group at the 14.5-mile mark of the New York City Marathon in Queens, New York, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Kipsang is the gold medal winner this year. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)
Wilson Kipsang (L) from Kenya leads the male group at the 14.5-mile mark of the New York City Marathon in Queens, New York, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Kipsang is the gold medal winner this year. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Why We Run

Caught still panting and cooling down from exertion in the baggage claim area, many runners answered half-jokingly that they weren’t sure just why exactly they liked running. 

“A strain of masochism, certainly,” answered Meghan Houser, 25, an editorial assistant and Harvard grad who lives on the Upper East Side. 

When she made it to the finish line, she felt both physically tattered and “psychologically fantastic.”

It might just run in the family, though. Houser said that her dad used to do the marathon, which inspired her to sign up.

“Actually it’s funny. My parents’ first date was coming to a marathon back in the day,” said Houser, who had also run the Philadelphia marathon last year.

When the going gets tough, she recalls a quote from Queen Victoria, who once said, “We’re not interested in the possibilities of defeat.”

For John Nelson, a 56-year-old pharmaceutical business consultant and former U.S. national gymnast, it’s all about discipline. 

“You don’t have a choice. You either give in or you press on,” said Nelson, who’s run the marathon 16 times. “Because this race will crush you, any marathon will.” 

The windy weather was not the worse the marathon has seen, according to Nelson, who’s run the course in unbearable heat and cold.

“It was brutal,” Nicola Holdsworth, a 27-year-old speech language pathologist, said of the winds. “I always tell myself mind over matter, mind over matter. You got to be a little stubborn.”

Spectators watching from the sidelines were inspired by the intense resolve that many runners showed.

Brandon Lee, a philosopher who lives in New York and came to watch his friend run, commented, “It’s pretty incredible. It shows the strength of the human spirit.”

Good Vibrations

Despite the gusting winds of over 30 mph, most runners managed to enjoy the course. The crowds cheering them on encouraged them. 

Lauren Breihof, 25, who works at sports company Brooks Running, said that back in Seattle where she flew in from on Friday, she would run miles without cheers. 

To see a community supporting her, was moving and helped her complete the course even with the fierce winds. 

“I felt elation, especially in the earlier parts of the marathon,” said Morrison. “There were good vibrations.”

As someone who lives in DUMBO, Brooklyn, Jotham Burnett, a 34-year-old business consultant found pleasure in running through the middle of First Avenue and over the Verrazano Bridge.

“I pretend that I’m running in the Olympics,” said Burnett, who’s run about 10 or 15 marathons and notes that his recovery time decreases each time he runs another. 

With 50,881 runners and wheelers, the marathon was at its biggest ever. 

Forty-year-old Endo Norrikazu from Japan said, “It’s a very hard course, but I enjoyed it so much. There were so many people.”

He declared it to be his all-time favorite marathon.

Epoch Times reporter Petr Svab and The Associated Press contributed to this article.