As we begin coverage of the NYC Marathon, I thought I would share some deep thoughts on the Big Apple. These are mostly 1970s and 1980s…
1. The NYC Marathon ran, 1970 to 1975, in Central Park. Five loops around the park and in those years, with winners in 1970 of Gary Muhrcke in 2:31.38. Muhrcke would go on to build the Super Runner’s Shop, an iconic brand of running retail in NYC.
2. Entry fee in 1970: $1!. When entry fees hit $15 in many events in the late 1970s, the running community got upset!
3. Tom Fleming won in 1973 and 1975. The late New Jersey running icon was a fine coach, competitor and father. Tom Fleming took 2nd in Boston during his career.
4. Beth Bonner was the first women’s winner in 1971 ( Norm Higgins took mens in 1971 in 2:22.54). Bonner (2:55.22) and Nina Kusick were first two women to offically break three hours. rrrr
5. Bill Rodgers won NYC four times ( 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979). Rodgers went 35-3 in 1978. After his first win in 1976, he had to get money from Race Director Fred Lebow to get his car unlocked by NYC Finest (he had parked in an illegal parking spot). Bill Rodgers had placed 40th in 1976 Olympics with a sore foot. His first NYC marathon gave him a win over rival (1972 Olympic champ, 1976 Olympic silver) Frank Shorter.
6. When Grete Waitz won her first NYC in 1977, it was a new WR of 2:32:30! She won by nine minutes! Grete Waitz was one of the finest athletes of her era, and she had not trained past a 20k distance. It was not a pleasant run for Grete. She would go on to win nine NYC marathons. In 1977, Jack Waitz, her husband, had to ask Fred Lebow, race director, for cash for a taxi to airport. The following week, Grete Waitz ran a cross country race in Frankfurt. In 1977, Grete Waitz, ran 54 races!
7. The Five Boroughs marathon was to be only a one time affair. In the second finest sales job in Manhattan history, Fred Lebow convinced the city fathers to build on the 1976 success!