NEW YORK—It’s Queens native Kojima Toshifumi’s 17th time participating in the city marathon, but he still finds it fun.
“I’m more patient because of it,” said Kojima, 55, a computer programmer. “Because you need a lot of patience to make it through.”
When he feels like he can’t go on, he’s encouraged by the cheers of the crowds, whether it’s fellow Japanese or Americans.
For the upcoming Sunday marathon, New Yorkers and tourists alike will have to summon up every ounce of willpower to finish all 26.2 miles.
In the world’s largest marathon that stretches through all five boroughs, both amateurs and Olympians are invited to attend.
About 140,000 people signed up, but there was only enough space for 50,000 runners and wheelers, said Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners, which organizes the annual event.
Last year’s marathon did away with backpacks, ordering runners to bring clear plastic bags. The heightened security made people feel safer according to social media feedback, said counterterrorism chief James Waters, at a Thursday press conference.
Police Commissioner William Bratton promised even more security this year.
On edge from lone wolf attacks and Ebola, New Yorkers can use the marathon to rejuvenate.
“Twenty-six miles without a red light, when does that happen anywhere?” joked Bratton.
Mayor Bill de Blasio quoted famous marathoner Katherine Switzer, saying, “If you’re ever losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”
De Blasio added, “There’s something about the endurance, the spirit, the ability to do something beyond the human grasp that inspires us.”
Kojima’s colleague at a software company, Bruce Ginyard, 50, also runs. He talks to himself when the going gets tough in the race.
“I’ll say, ‘just one more mile, one more mile,’ for every mile,” he said.
A Herculean Effort
Three-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi said that he gives every race his all and sometimes the result is good, but other times, he struggles. It resembles life’s ups and downs.
Once, he said, he felt like his body shut down. “But I thought, you know what? I want to get to that finish line, no matter how long it takes.”
And another time while running a marathon, he said, “I was taking on the world. I got chills, it was the most gratifying moment.”
Kids can start running too, just a mile or two at a time.
“Perseverance, time management, discipline, and hard work. If we can teach our youth that, we’d have a better society,” said Keflezighi.
Ginyard, whose son was on the track team in school, said, “I encourage him to run. Running helps you take better care of your body and be more aware of what’s going on, what you eat.”
Sunday’s race begins at 9 a.m. in Staten Island, then crossing over to Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and ending in the midst of Central Park.