The New York City Marathon takes place on Sunday, the latest chapter for a venerable, decades-running American institution. Boasting an expected turnout north of 50,000 runners, and a level of international distance-running talent that's second-to-none, it's a truly signature event. And it naturally produces some impressive, evocative images. There's almost always something powerful in the sight of people pushing their athletic limits, after all. So for the big day — assuming you're not busy running, of course — here are 8 cool photos from New York Marathon history.
The New York Marathon was first held back in 1970, and back then it wasn't such a well-attended affair: only 127 people entered the race, and only 55 actually finished the course. It wasn't a borough-snaking tour of the entire city of New York back then, either — it was confined entirely to Central Park. In other words, if you were running the marathon in 1970, you might hve to worry as much about boredom as anything.
Since then, however, it's gained a level of national and international recognition that's made it the most well-attended marathon on Earth. Here's a little look back at some of the faces of past races.
1. Alberto Salazar Wins The 1980 Marathon
Alberto Salazar won three consecutive New York City Marathons, finishing in the top spot in the men's division in 1980, 1981, and 1982.
2. Grete Waitz Wins The 1980 Marathon
Norway's Grete Waitz holds the all-time record for most New York City Marathon wins at nine, and they came in two epic runs – she won three times from 1978 through 1980, then six more times from 1982 through 1986. Here she is notching her victory in 1980.
3. Alison Roe Breaks Grete Waitz's Streak in 1981
But in 1981, Allison Roe toppled Waitz's reign for just one year, ultimately denying her a potential run of ten consecutive wins. Roe is pictured above, along with repeat winner Alberto Salazar.
4. Hustle And Bustle In 1984
As you can see, by 1984 the marathon was already a jam-packed, mass-appeal event. The warm colors, the thousands of people pushing themselves along the bright, sunny track? It's a beautiful image, and more to the point, a beautiful event.
5. Crossing The Verrazano Bridge In 1992
The New York City Marathon always begins at the Verrazano Bridge, and it makes for a pretty impressive sight, doesn't it?
6. Another Angle On The Bridge In 1993
I'm sorry, was that already too much bridge for one list? There's just something about seeing the Verrazano Bridge all teeming with life that feels really representative of the excitement and goodwill the marathon represents.
7. Tegla Loroupe Finishes First In 1994
Now a public advocate for peace and women's education, Loroupe became the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon back in 1994 (her fellow Kenyan Ibrahim Hussein was the first African man to accomplish this back in 1987). Her win has been widely credited with fueling the popularity and excellence of distance-running in Kenya.
8. Rain And Fog Can't Stop The Race in 1997
Leave it to The New York Times' headline from the 1997 marathon to tell the tale: "BRAVE EFFORTS ON A BEASTLY DAY: Rain, Wind and Fog Fail to Stop the Racers." It may have sucked for the runners, sure, but what a beautiful photo.