NYC Marathon returns from pandemic pause for its golden 50th run

The Big Apple is well and truly back! Bill and Hillary Clinton congratulate Chelsea on finishing the NYC marathon as thousands turn out for its 50th anniversary

  • The TCS New York City Marathon is back live for its 50th anniversary on Sunday after 2020’s virtual run, with participants raring to cross the blue finish line painted inside Central Park
  • The marathon went virtual last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 16,000 runners finishing their own 26.2-mile (42.2 km) course in 108 countries
  • The event, which began in 1970, has grown from a local road race in Central Park to the world’s largest marathon
  • About 33,000 participants will cross all five of the city’s boroughs on November 7
  • U.S. women’s national soccer team alumni Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Kate Markgraf and Leslie Osborne are among the celebrities running this year
  • Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber is racing for the seventh time, while two members of British rock band Mumford & Sons are running in NYC for the first time
  • Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara will perform the national anthem and former contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette Matt James, Tyler Cameron, Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark are also running
  • Former President Bill Clinton, 75, was also seen at the Central Park finish, along with wife Hilary and daughter Chelsea, who took part in the race, in his first public appearance since being released from hospital in October

New York City’s famed marathon has kicked-off again for its golden 50th anniversary after a COVID pause, with the number of runners almost halved, and all participants ordered to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. 

The race got underway on Staten Island at 8am EST Sunday, with crisp 45 degrees weather and blue skies forecast for the 33,000 competitors on their five-boro trip which starts at Staten Island and ends in Central Park. 

Organizers shrank the field by nearly 40 percent this year, compared to the 55,000 runners in 2019. Participants were required to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the race, while spectators were encouraged to maintain social distancing.

Albert Korir of Kenya won the men’s race, two years after coming in second. Celebrity participants included Chelsea Clinton, who was cheered on by parents Hillary and Bill in what was the former president’s first public appearance since beating sepsis last month. 

Korir overtook Morocco’s Mohamed El Aaraby and Italy’s Eyob Faniel around the 18th mile and quickly took the drama out of the race’s 50th running. He won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds.  

It was the 27-year-old’s first victory in one of the World Marathon Majors and his first time atop any podium since winning the Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon in 2019. In the NYC marathon’s 2019 run, Korir had finished second to Geoffrey Kamworor in 2019 by 23 seconds.

After completing the New York City Marathon, Chelsea Clinton (left) poses for a picture with her mother, Hillary Clinton and her father, Bill Clinton (right), and marathon director Ted Metellus (second from right) at the finish line at Central Park

Runners make their way across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge during the start of the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in New York. A limited field of 33,000 runners will jog off the Verrazano Bridge and wind its way toward Central Park on Sunday, Nov. 7, as the New York City Marathon returns for its 50th edition after being wiped out in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic

Men’s division winner Albert Korir of Kenya crosses the finish line during the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon in New York

First place mens finisher Albert Korir of Kenya, center, second place finisher Mohamed El Aaraby of Morrocco, left, and third place finisher Eyob Faniel of Italy participate in a ceremony at the finish line of the New York City Marathon in New York

Runners will race through the five boroughs of New York City throughout their 26.2-mile race on Sunday. They will begin in Staten Island at the Verrazano Bridge before making their way to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx before circling back and finishing in Manhattan. The finish line is located in Central Park.

Morocco’s Mohammed El Aaraby celebrates after finishing in second place in the men’s elite race

In the women’s race, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya pulled away at the entrance to Central Park and became the first woman to win a marathon major in the fall after winning an Olympic gold medal.

Jepchirchir, of Kenya, broke away from countrywoman Viola Cheptoo and Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh in the final mile of the race after the trio ran side by side from the Bronx back down through Manhattan.

The 28-year-old Kenyan’s win comes after she took gold at the Tokyo Olympics marathon in August and came back on a short recovery to win a race once dominated by her hero Mary Keitany, a four-time winner in New York who recently retired from the sport.

Jepchirchir’s unofficial time Sunday was 2 hours, 22 minutes, 39 seconds.

In the women’s race, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya pulled away at the Central Park finish line and became the first woman to win a marathon major in the fall after winning an Olympic gold medal. 

First place finisher Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya poses with her trophy during a winners ceremony after crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon

Kenya’s Viola Cheptoo celebrates after finishing in second place in the women’s elite race

Prior to the race, three-time Olympic gold medalist and Ethiopian legendary lung distance runner Kenenisa Bekele said he was ready to ‘make more history’. Pictured: Bekele, 39, in action during the men’s elite race

Meanwhile, Madison de Rozario of Australia won the women’s wheelchair race, holding off past champions Tatyana McFadden and Manuela Schär for her first Big Apple victory.  

The 27-year-old took gold over Schär at this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Marathon by just one second, but she blew away the field Sunday, winning by nearly three minutes at 1 hour, 51 minutes and 1 second. McFadden was second and Schär was third.

De Rozario, who developed transverse myelitis when she was 4, competed at New York for the third time. Her best finish had been fifth in 2017. She’s the first Australian to win the NYC Marathon.    

Marcel Hug of Switzerland won the men’s wheelchair race for the fourth time, pulling away from the field early for his first title since 2017.

The 35-year-old added yet another prize to a remarkable year that included four gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics, including in the marathon. He also won the Boston Marathon last month.

Hug, born with spina bifida, finished second to American Daniel Romanchuk in 2018 and ’19. The latter defeat came by just one second.

Hug finished in 1:31:24, more than 6 1/2 minutes ahead of Britain’s David Weir in second and Romanchuck in third.

Switzerland’s Marcel Hug (left) the winner of the men’s elite wheelchair celebrates with Australia’s Madison de Rozario (right) winner of the women’s elite wheelchair race

Switzerland’s Marcel Hug (center) poses with the Swiss flag on his back after winning the men’s elite wheelchair race with second place Britain’s David Weir (left) and third place Daniel Romanchuk (right) of the U.S.

Athletes in the men’s professional wheelchair division pause before leaving the start line of the 50th running of the New York City Marathon

Athletes in the men’s professional wheelchair division leave from the start line of the 50th running of the New York City Marathon Sunday

Former President Bill Clinton, 75, was also seen at the Central Park finish, along with wife Hilary and daughter Chelsea, who partook in the race, in his first public appearance since being released from hospital in mid-October. 

The 42nd president was admitted into hospital in California last month after a urological infection caused by E. coli developed into sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to an infection. 

Since then, he has fully recovered and has travelled back to the family’s Chappaqua residence in upstate New York, about a 50 minute drive to Central Park. 

However, Clinton’s appearance at the marathon’s golden anniversary comes as a shock to some after it was revealed that he was ‘too unwell’ to attend General Colin Powell’s funeral on Friday

Chelsea Clinton (third from left) is greeted by her husband, Marc Mezvinsky (second from left), her mother, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (center), NYRR Marathon director Ted Metellus (second from right), and her father, former President Bill Clinton (far right) after she finished the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park

Former United States President Bill Clinton, 75, is seen at the end of the race in Central Park

Meanwhile, this year, the starting format was altered, with a fifth wave added to space out runners as they bus or ferry to the starting line in Staten Island and at the finish near 67th Street on the west side of Central Park.

No turning the clock off after four hours this time – the last group won’t take off until noon, four hours after the professional wheelchair division is the first to hit the streets.

‘The classic line of, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’ that wasn’t going to be an option, ‘ race director Ted Metellus said. I’ve been trying to look for new things every year, every day but i don’t know what 

Over the past 21 months, New York’s streets have gone from eerily silent amid a crippling COVID-19 outbreak, to filled with heartache and rage as tens of thousands marched following George Floyd´s murder, and finally to a steady blossoming of re-openings since spring.

Nothing, though, has brought residents out of their homes en masse for a celebration the way Sunday’s marathon is expected to.

Organizers are hoping this year’s race impacts the city similarly to the 2001 marathon, when New Yorkers packed the route less than two months after 9/11.

‘When I think about this year, I will be excited, I’ll be energized,’ Metellus said.  ‘But I also realize how much it means to everybody else in the city.’

Runners cross the Queens section while spectators take pictures and videos of their passing. The NYC marathon will be taking place throughout the day from 8a.m. until 8.30p.m. 

Some other runners took the opportunity to partake in the race, wearing funny costumes. Pictured: A runner wearing an elf costume as the holiday season approaches

Some runners wore costumes the during the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon. Pictured: Two participants running in costumes based off the now-popular South Korean Netflix series, Squid Game

Runners wore costumes the during the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon, as they saw the cheery and humorous side to this year’s race. Pictured: A runner dressed in a hotdog costume

After a forced break in 2020, the New York City Marathon is back on for its 50th edition, and with it the countless opportunities to run it for charity, an industry that has become a staple, and hopes to take off again after the pandemic

A general view of race participants in action during the marathon in Manhattan, as they edge closer to the Central Park finish line

Other Olympic medalists and celebrities also competed in the open division, with the men’s and women’s champions earning $100,000 each.  

There were some gold medals in the non-competitive waves, too: U.S. women’s national soccer team alumni Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Kate Markgraf and Leslie Osborne are among the celebrities running this year.   

Law & Order star Mariska Hargitay, 57, and her husband Peter were also pictured providing encouragement for marathon runners on New York’s Upper East Side

Runners got quite the surprise when they saw one of New York’s most famous and beloved faces cheering them on as they ran up 1st Avenue.

Mariska, Peter and their kids were standing on the corner of 1st Avenue and 96th Street calling out words or support as runners came by.

One shouted back ‘I love you Olivia Benson’, a nod to the character that she has played on Law & Order: SVU for the past 23 seasons.

Shalane Flanagan greets former USWMNT star Abby Wambach after she finished the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park

Mariska Hargitay (pictured in white) was seen supporting runners as she joined other fellow New Yorkers cheering on participants in this year’s marathon

One runn shouted back ‘I love you Olivia Benson’, a nod to the character that she has played on Law & Order: SVU for the past 23 seasons

Hargitay, 57, was joined by her husband, Peter, and their kids on the corner of 1st Avenue and 96th Street

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber was also racing for the seventh time, while two members of British rock band Mumford & Sons were running NYC for the first time. Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara performed the national anthem and then hit the course, while former contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette Matt James, Tyler Cameron, Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark also joined the party.

Television anchors and personalities took on the 26.2-mile course including TODAY Show and Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist running in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Good Morning America’s Will Reeve running in support of the Reeve Foundation. In addition, producer and host of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show Nev Schulman ran in his fourth New York City Marathon. 

Legendary fashion model Christy Turlington marked her return 10 years after running in her first New York City Marathon, representing her charity, Every Mother Counts. 

Additionally, Shoe4Africa had model and actress Kristine Froseth run to support their worthy cause, while ESPN commentator Nicole Briscoe was also involved in this year’s race. 

Christy Turlington Burns raises her arms in victory as she nears the end of the New York City Marathon in Central Park

American TV personality and journalist Willie Geist, who is the co-anchor of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Sunday Today, ran in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Good Morning America’s Will Reeve ran in support of the Reeve Foundation  

ESPN commentator Nicole Briscoe also ran the New York City marathon this year

Nev Schulman is seen lifting his fist in the air while running this year’s New York City Marathon 

Shoe4Africa will have model and actress Kristine Froseth running to support their worthy cause 

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber (center) is seen participating in this year’s 50th New York City Marathon

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