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  • Writer's pictureMark Lewis

Be Inspired

The New York City (NYC) Marathon occurs once a year on the first Sunday in November and is the largest marathon in the world. In 2017 over 50,000 people from more than 100 countries participated in the race. For anyone unaware of how long a marathon is, it's 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. Regardless if participants have been in multiple marathons previously or were participating in their very first marathon or somewhere in between, finishing is no easy task. While I am not a runner, I am an avid mountain biker and I understand what it means to persevere when you feel like you have nothing left to give. In any endeavor of the magnitude of a marathon, participants have to dig deep inside, many of them on more than occasion, in order to achieve their intended goal. And speaking of goals, each participant had their own and many of them identified that goal externally on their jerseys. You saw signs of people running to benefit cancer research, for example, because they knew someone who had the disease, while others were running to benefit other organizations and causes. The elite runners were focused on winning the event which, while possibly not their only reason, did come with a cash prize and international notoriety.

Before I write more and display photos from the race of 2017, let me briefly touch upon a bit of history of the NYC marathon. The first NYC Marathon occurred in 1970 and was held entirely in Central Park and had only 127 entrants! Over time the race grew in popularity and in 1976 over 2,000 people entered and the route was expanded to include all five boroughs which make up NYC. Picture that; a race this challenging containing 127 participants increasing to over 50,000 participants in just over 45 years is nothing short of remarkable. For more information on the history of the NYC marathon click here .

The Morning Of

I must admit that I didn't plan on photographing the marathon until the night before. I’ve watched the event on television in the past and I have also been a live spectator multiple times to cheer on the runners as the race passes through my Brooklyn neighborhood, but I had not attended it recently. That morning I went to the gym first thing and on my way back home I saw the police setting up the barriers for crowd control. On the walk home I decided to come out and support the runners again as well as create my own images.

It was a cloudy day and a misty rain was scheduled in the forecast. I thought that the inclement weather could also add to the event. I made my way to 4th Avenue and staked out a pretty decent location from which to photograph. Unfortunately by the time I arrived, the elite women runners had already passed by my location but the elite men runners and the remaining thousands of other participants were still to come. At the time I wasn't bothered by missing them as once I made up my mind to photograph, I wanted to capture the overall emotion and energy of the event itself and wasn’t focused on one specific person or group. After I got home and realized an American woman had won, I wished I had been there earlier to get images of her along the way but in any event I was satisfied overall with what I created. When I write about emotion or energy you might ask what I am referring to. Photography for me is about telling stories and making a connection with the viewer and capturing this event was no different. Additionally, I've had friends who have personally run in previous marathons and I have witnessed their dedication to training on Social Media. Courtenay, Caleb and Bryant, I'm talking about you. In this case and based on where I was situated in the race course, I planned to focus on the spectators cheering, the intensity of a runner’s face, a runner interacting with the crowd or law enforcement patrolling just to name a few. I wasn't sure what else I would capture but I had some of those general themes in mind.

Not long after I got situated I felt the intensity starting to build. More spectators arrived and I could see the flashing lights in the distance. Some in the crowd knew participants in the race and had signs while others just came out to cheer everyone on in general. I was determined to create some images that captured the soul of the marathon.

The Motorcade & The Elite Runners

The next several images focus primarily on the runners and include group as well as individual shots from different angles.

And Here Come The Masses....

NYC Marathon Spectators

The next set of images include NYC Marathon spectators. It was evident that the spectators lining the streets played an important role in providing motivation to the runners. Many would come by and slap the hands of the spectators including both the old and the young. The spectators were quite enthusiastic and kept encouraging the runners non-stop.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post and view the accompanying images. I hope they provided you a glimpse into what I experienced at the NYC marathon and that you are willing to go out and work to accomplish a goal you've had for yourself but haven't yet fulfilled. Now is the time for you to be inspired and just know that there will be people in your corner helping you to succeed!


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