Euphoric pain. That’s the emotion some 50,000 people experienced after running through the five boroughs on Sunday in the TCS New York City Marathon.
Crossing the finish line in Central Park, runners roared with excitement and flexed with elated pride, some even kissing the finish line itself. Others collapsed to the concrete ground, passing out and needing to be wheeled away while grimacing in agony. This is the duality suffered by participants from all 50 states and 150 counties when making the 26.2-mile trek.
The race began at the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, with runners headed into South Brooklyn and then past the Barclay’s Center hitting mile eight.
Thousands of spectators lined the streets along Fourth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, holding signs and cheering on the leagues of runners passing by.
Lilah Raptopoulos, a Brooklyn resident, planned to run the marathon but was benched due to an injury; however, she made sure to show up for her boyfriend, who was participating in the event.
Raptopoulos is a firm believer that marathon day is the “best day in New York City.”
“It’s so emotional,” Raptopoulos said. “You get to feel like everybody is rooting for the same thing. Everyone is on the same team. It’s really beautiful.”
For Jennifer Warmath, the marathon has cultivated a sense of community, which is why she keeps coming back every year to support the athletes.
“It feels like a really beautiful moment where everyone comes together regardless of your background or what you do,” Warmath said. “[I’m] just impressed with this physical feat that all of these people are able to accomplish. And just the crowd cheering on strangers, and it feels really good.”
After garnering some momentum, the runners entered Queens, until they reached the Queensboro Bridge, where they crossed into Manhattan hitting 20 miles, making their way north to the Bronx and then back down into Manhattan through Harlem toward Fifth Avenue, culminating on 68th Street in Central Park.
Anna Dracheva, who hails from Dubai, told amNewYork Metro that the New York City Marathon has a reputation for being difficult. With this in mind, she says she spent the entire year preparing to make her first run.
“I really was prepared for something tough. I was expecting really steep hills on some of the bridges. That’s how it went more or less,” Dracheva said, adding that she was surprised by the fans who kept her motivated. “Thanks for the huge support, I haven’t seen anything, anywhere else similar to that.”
Dracheva described her first time participating as incredible and insisted others make the attempt.
“After you have done the New York Marathon, it’s probably hard to find anything comparable,” Dracheva said.
Native New Yorker Fausto Bonilla ran for more than just himself. A five-year cancer survivor, Bonilla says he lost his mother and grandmother to the disease and chose to take part in their honor. After crossing the finish line, he fell to his knees and wept thinking of them.
“It’s heavy. I had really bad cramps, I was struggling mentally but the only thing that went through my head I was thinking: this is for grandma, this is for mom. This is for those that can’t run,” Bonilla shared. “Hopefully it will motivate somebody at some point because you know what, I beat cancer.”
Bonilla added that he ran on behalf of the Ulman foundation, an organization that aided him during his battle with the disease. While runners passed by him as he spoke, Bonilla choked up, marveling at life and the marathon itself.
“I don’t care if this is your first marathon or this is your 20th, we just did something as a team, collectively, all of the people here and that’s very motivating to me,” Ulman said.