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The NYC Marathon Is Back

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 3, 2021 22:13

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The NYC Marathon is back this Sunday. It's a treasured tradition.

The annual New York City Marathon is back this year, after a one-year absence in 2020, due to the Covid pandemic. I've long been a fan of the Marathon, and have watched parts of it in-person many times over the years. Typically I have watched it from either a favored corner in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene, near where my friends live, or at a spot on Fourth Avenue, near the Atlantic Terminal.

The Marathon was first held in 1970, and the route goes through all five of NYC's boroughs. Thousands of men and women run in it each time, and many thousands more either watch in person or catch coverage on TV or radio.

Over the years I've known several people who ran it: my younger brother Ben did four times, my friend Jacqui ran it, as did a few other friends and some of my high school teachers. I've rooted for them, and rooted for all the other runners.

I've long felt that this was one of the most democratic of sporting events: although there are some elite runners with high profiles, the vast majority of runners are people who are "just like us." You can be young or rather old, male or female, of any race or ethnicity or religion or interest group. In a nutshell, if you could practice, and pay the entrance fee, you could run. 

But this year not all the international runners will be able to participate, due to lingering concerns over the pandemic and its spread. This is a shame, but also understandable.

However, I thought more about the Marathon and really, it is not the super-duper democratic event that it seems. You must have the time to train for this, and there are many poor and working class people who don't have the time or means to train. While it is true that you could train with inexpensive sneakers and clothing, and you could run in the streets or even in your own home, not just in a fancy gym, it does cost money to enter the race. Apparently there are 100 "complimentary race entries" this year. But that is a tiny fraction within the pool of over 30,000 spots. (This year the number of spots is much smaller, again, due to the Pandemic.)

Thus, if you are a person who is struggling financially, how can you participate in the Marathon? Many people will just shrug and say, well, that's life. You cannot have everything. True. But this detracts from the image of the Marathon as something for everyone who is willing to try it. And while there are spots for runners with certain physical disabilities (vision impaired, wheelchair bound) they do need the economic means to devote themselves to this.

If you work seven days a week, or have a precarious work schedule, or work multiple jobs, or have other overwhelming time obligations, you will not be able to run this race. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 3, 2021 22:13

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Source: CBS Sports

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