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The first New York City Marathon in 1970 had 100 entrants. Sunday’s running will have more than 40,000, and another 60,000 applicants were rejected. How does a 26-mile foot race grow from 100 participants to 100,000 applicants? Simple: marathon fever is contagious.
About ten years ago, I joined a gym and maxed out after a single mile in ten minutes. Two colleagues joined me, and we began to compete to run the fastest three-mile race, then six miles, then half-marathon. I suffered a setback in 2003, and the next thing I knew I was a spectator at that year’s NYC Marathon while my colleagues were running it. I caught the fever, and the three of us ran across the Verrazano Bridge (pictured) together to start the race in 2004.
I am persuasive, and enthusiastic when relating my experiences. As a result, in the past four years, a dozen friends and colleagues have completed a marathon with my encouragement, and now they are all recruiting converts of their own. Last fall, I ran the NYC Marathon for the third time, while three of my brothers joined me in their debuts. This year, one of them is back for his third marathon (he ran a second one in April), and he’s dragging a colleague with him. I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon in three weeks—with, of course, two colleagues who will be running their first marathon.
How is that that I’ve convinced 15 people to complete a grueling 18-week training program so they could then run a 26-mile race? I’d love to sit down and explain it, but be prepared to put your running shoes on at the end. As a prelude, read our article today, “Reasons to Run.”
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