More than 40,000 people of all shapes and sizes are taking part in this year's New York York City Marathon. While the field features several elite athletes, the vast majority of entrants are average Americans running for the love of the race (and maybe to drop a few pounds, too).
The New York City Marathon is considered to be the world's largest and, since its founding in 1970, has become one of the most popular. Over 2 million spectators line the streets, bridges, and roadways of New York to watch the racers run (and let's face it, sometimes walk), while another 315 million watch on TV.
Below you'll find some fun facts and trivia about the marathon. While it may not be as impressive as actually competing in the event, you can be sure that knowing these will make you the most popular person at your marathon party!
1. Some Celebrity Marathoners Are Actually Pretty Good. While the likes of David Lee Roth (6:04:43) and Mike Huckabee (5:33:39) did about as well as you'd expect them to do, some celebs who've tried their hand at marathon running have put in some respectable times. William Baldwin (3:24:29), Meredith Baxter (4:08:30), and Anthony Edwards (3:55:40), who's running it again this year, have some of the best celebrity times in the New York City Marathon. Of course Lance Armstrong blows these times out of the water with his 2:46:43 finish, but we're going to say that he's in a slightly different category than everybody else.
2. Three People Died During The 2008 Race. Carlos Jose Gomes, Joseph Marotta, and an unidentified third runner died while competing in last year's race. Both Gomes and Marotta completed the marathon and died on the other side of the finish line. The third man died 11 days after the race from a heart-attack he suffered while running.
3. An Eight-Year-Old Ran The Marathon In 3(!) Hours. In 1977, Wesley Paul, a child from Columbia, MO became the youngest person ever to complete the New York City Marathon with an incredible time of 3:00:37. In the early years of the race several children competed, but the institution of a mandatory minimum age of 16 in 1981 (later bumped up to 18) changed that.
4. The Founder Of The New York City Marathon Was Born In Transylvania (Halloween Cross-Over Fact!). Fred Lebow was a runner, garment worker, and survivor of Nazi-occupied Europe. Born in Transylvania, Romania, Lebow escaped to the United States in the 1960s, making his way through Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands and Ireland. Once here, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and became something of a "king of knock-offs," an expert in making cheaper versions of expensive clothes.
5. The Closest Race Was Won By One Second. Runner Paul Tergat barely beat out Hendrick Ramaala in the 2005 marathon, proving the old adage that "every second counts."
6. The First Marathon Cost $300 Dollars To Organize. Lebow invested $300 dollars of his own money to fund the first race in 1970. To put that in perspective, the entry fee for the average person is now $171 dollars, and $231 for international entrants.
7. Sometimes The Best Isn't The Best. Alberto Salazar, the winner of the 1981 race, thought he'd set the record for world's best marathon time with a fantastic 2:08:13. Little did he know that race organizers had mismeasured the length of the course, accidentally leaving it 148 meters short of a full marathon. While Salazar won the New York City Marathon a total of three times and is considered a legend in his field, he has never stopped believing that he broke the record in the 1981 race.