The 2019 TCS NYC Marathon could not have had a better setting, with partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid- to high-40s, a calm breeze, and a highly enthusiastic, growing-by-the-minute supporting cast of media, security, and race volunteers. “This is perfect weather, 45–50 degrees…my favorite way to run,” said retired U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi, who won the race in 2009.
Over the next few hours, there would be six races altogether, including two for kids. In the pro events, wheelchair racer Daniel Romanchuk defended his title; Manuela Schär won the women’s wheelchair division for the third year in a row; Joyciline Jepkosgei took first in her marathon debut; and Geoffrey Kamworor won the men’s race.
Romanchuk (above left) won in 1:37:24 with an all-out sprint at the end! It was a four-way sprint among Marcel Hug (second), David Weir (third), and fellow U.S. racer Aaron Pike (fourth). When asked about the tight finish, Romanchuk said, “Most of the time it actually does come down to a sprint. There really are only two marathons that I remember not coming down to a sprint.”
Shortly afterward, Switzerland’s Schär (above right) crossed the line first in the women’s wheelchair race in 1:44:20, a full four minutes ahead of the next finisher, five-time champion Tatyana McFadden of the U.S. Schär started off strong and never looked back. So when did it register that she had won? “In my case I didn’t really ever know,” she said. “I couldn’t tell if they were seconds behind me or if I was largely in front. I didn’t really know for sure until the end.”
The big surprise of the day came in the women’s race, with Jepkosgei of Kenya (below right) finishing seven seconds off the course record in her first marathon ever (2:22:38). The 25-year-old also was the youngest woman to win the NYC marathon this century.
Jepkosgei and countrywoman Mary Keitany, who had claimed four NYC titles in the last five years, were neck and neck until the 22nd mile. After that Jepkosgei really started to pull away from Keitany, and it ended up staying that way.
The first U.S. woman to finish was Desiree Linden. She was sixth, though at one point she had a 13-second lead.
Kamworor, who is also from Kenya, was first in the men’s race (2:08:13), closely followed by Albert Korir ( 2:08:36), and Girma Bekele Gebre (2:08:38). The men’s race, unlike the women’s race, had lots of people grouped together towards the end. The men had 12 people all within a two-second span at Mile 17! The first American to finish the men’s marathon was Jared Ward, who placed sixth (2:10:45).
The day started out with the Youth Invitational. The top boys’ finisher, 16-year-old Colman Shaver, ran 1.3 miles in 6:31. Fourteen-year-old Acadia Helfand won the girls’ race in 7:15. At the start of the race, volunteers staggered the kids out so they wouldn’t be really crowded. All 1,000 of the kids then rushed out in groups to be the first to the finish line.
“I felt like I accomplished something,” said nine-year-old Grace Dunchick (below left). “There was a time I wanted to quit, but my legs wouldn’t let me. They just kept going.”
For the first time, there was also a wheelchair exhibition race included in the Youth Invitational.
All of these races have one thing in common: The participants all showed perseverance. In all of those races, the runners were running as hard as they could. Said Linden, who has been running marathons for more than 12 years, “Do all the sports you want; as long as you’re having fun, then keep doing it. It’s all going to help you be a faster runner, and most of all, don’t stop trying!”