NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The world once again turned its attention to the Big Apple on Sunday for 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.
The Mayor’s office reported more than 2 million people turned out to watch, as more than 50,000 runners from across the globe pushed themselves to the limit to traverse each of the five boroughs over a whopping 26 miles and change.
The day was dedicated to spirit and pride, and was marked by an unprecedented police presence to protect both the runners and the expected two and a half million spectators cheering them on along the city-spanning route.
“Look at all the wonderful people who came out despite any fears to cheer strangers on,” said Jane Reed of Whitestone, Queens.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Reed made it through a crowd of highly happy people and highly-focused police officers for her marathon-runner son. Her husband and daughter-in-law joined her.
A friend took cellphone video as Dave Reed’s family called him over under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The family said they would like to high-five police officers for being so visible and making them feel secure right from the very start of their day.
“Came into Penn station this morning; never felt safer,” said John Reed.
“I think it’s probably one of the safest places to be right now,” said Kyra Reed.
The enhanced security was in response to the truck attack in Lower Manhattan on Halloween, where eight people were killed when accused terrorist Sayfullo Saipov sped down the popular bike path near the West Side Highway, mowing down innocent cyclists and pedestrians.
“Our strength will be on full display Sunday at the marathon,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the wake of the attack. “We have people here from all over the globe. My message is we will keep them safe.”
And indeed the city’s strength was on full display. From the rooftops to the roadways, the police presence was visible. Officers in plain clothes were also at every step along the route that took the runners through the city’s five boroughs.
“We have hundreds of counter-terrorism trained officers on the route, radiation detection devices on their person, and a substantial number of explosive detecting K-9s on the route,” NYPD Department Chief Carlos M. Gomez said last week.
The counter-terror teams also placed sand trucks to prevent another terrorist from using a vehicle as a deadly weapon.
“We’ve added more sand trucks and blocker vehicles, the most we have ever used in any detail in the city,” Gomez said.
They also doubled the number of sniper teams that kept a watchful eye from high above the race course. The only law enforcement authorities in the sky higher than them were the NYPD aviation teams.
New York State Police also doubled the number of working troopers throughout the city Sunday, and the New York National Guard tripled its usual marathon development.
The tight security from the NYPD also brought peace of mind to the Pearsons of Ontario, Canada. They came to support their son, Frank Jr.
The Pearsons were at the Boston Marathon during the bombing in 2013.
“We were in Boston, the other terrorist attack was there also — two blocks from that,” said Frank Pearson Sr. of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“Ever since Boston, the security has been super,” said Barbara Pearson.
They said knowing all that is done to keep them safe makes them eager to return to the Boston and New York marathons.
For the finishers of the marathon, there was a sense of sweet satisfaction. Tim Knott of Great Britain was running his 10th marathon Sunday, but his first in New York.
“The atmosphere is really good,” Knott told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “There’s New York and there’s London that are like carnivals, and all the others are not like that.”
Runner Matt Maroney said he was not worried after the terror attack last week, though he was on edge.
“At the start of the race they fired some cannons or something and they were doing some tests before — and that gave me a little bit of a shock,” he said.
Maroney said once he started, the crowd was amazing. Runners who spoke with CBS2 also said they were vigilant, but not afraid.
“Not at all, not at all,” one man said. “I think this is the safest spot to be right now.”
“You see police cars everywhere, police officers everywhere, you feel safe,” one woman said.
Shrewsbury, New Jersey resident Tracey McGee says she started running nine years ago after the premature birth of her twin boys, Jack and Ryan.
“Once they came home and got healthy I thought you know what, it’s time for mom to go out and relieve some stress, start exercising in terms of running and I just went from there,” she told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
McGee says just last year she managed to complete the Boston Marathon with a stress fracture in her hip. She was told by her doctors she may never be able to run a marathon again.
And yet on Sunday, she stood ready to prove them wrong — a testament to the resilience of the city and the thousands of runners who got to take an up close and personal tour of it Sunday.
For the New York City Argentine community, the marathon was a bittersweet event. Five Argentinians were killed in the Lower Manhattan truck rampage last week.
In the cheering of thousands as the runners came off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, one word was heard louder – “Argentina!”
Noami Molina of the Upper East Side was the one shouting her pride and feeling the heartache from her homeland.
“Five people died, so we are here to support them; the families and everything, to see our flag,” Molina said.
The flag was also draped across Molina’s shoulders as she rooted for athletes she didn’t know.
“It’s very emotional for me because I am very far from Argentina,” she told WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp. “When I saw my flag I’m feeling very happy.”
Molina came to the marathon last year too and felt confident in the heavy security this time around.
And WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman ran the marathon himself. It was his first marathon, and his time was 3:48:20.
“This race is incredible in terms of its energy. Everywhere along the course, there are people screaming,” Silverman said. “You don’t even need to listen to music to pump you up, because there are people shouting things at you; words of encouragement; signs. I think my favorite sign of the day was, ‘You run faster than the MTA.’ Another one, ‘Run like Bob Muller has just unsealed your indictment. Those were two of my favorites along the course.”
By Sunday afternoon, Shalane Flanagan dethroned Mary Keitany and became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977, potentially ending her decorated career with her first major marathon victory.
Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya won the men’s race, holding off countryman Wilson Kipsang by 3 seconds for his first major victory.
American running great and 2009 New York winner Meb Keflezighi completed his 26th and final marathon, collapsing as he crossed the finish.