NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York City Marathon is technically a competition.
For most of the 50,000 runners however, this race was not about prize money or sporting glory.
“First marathoner in the family so, mom wants to do it next year,” Natalie Macario said. Marcario ran to push herself physically. Others to raise money for personal causes.
Some like Irene Amato were inspired by late family members. “It was definitely a higher power than myself, it was the universe and my mother pushing me to do it and I did it,” Amato said.
The experience was so captivating people forget how cold it was or how long they stood.
All across the five boroughs, spectators rang bells, waved posters, and big cardboard pictures, screaming until they were hoarse.
“It’s just exciting to see everyone cheering everyone on. There’s no negativity, no anger, just supporting people who worked really hard to do something,” Laura Hoferer said.
A lot of the families came to cheer one person, but ended up staying for hours to support complete strangers. They say the energy is just that contagious.
“We would stand screaming while waiting for her, we’re so proud of you, you’re killing, to perfect strangers to 3 hours at a time, it was amazing,” another spectator told CBS2’s Christina Fan.
Participants from all over the world came to take on the grueling 26.2 mile course. CBS2’s Marc Liverman spoke to one runner who traveled from Australia.
“The crowds and the atmosphere, all the way along, it’s just one big party for 42 kilometers, and to finish in Central Park is pretty special,” he said.
The marathon started on Staten Island and goes over the Verrazzano Bridge into Brooklyn. From there, it heads to Queens, then over the 59th Street Bridge, up the East Side and into the Bronx before ending in Central Park.
One man said the spectators make the New York City Marathon unique.
“It’s because you have this energy, this power you feel when you run. Even when you arrive after the Queensboro Bridge and you’re going down First Avenue and you think, ‘I just have to walk,’ you can’t because the crowd, wow! ‘Go, go!’ You can’t stop,” he said.
“The energy here in New York is just so amazing. I mean, 70,000 people running 26.2 miles is kind of crazy and they all just do it with a smile, so it’s kind of fun,” said a woman who previously ran the marathon in 2003. “It’s crazy because it’s continuous and everybody just keeps cheering for you, and it’s, I don’t know, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I can do this. OK, I can do this. They think I can do it, [and] they’re complete strangers.'”
Watch: Thousands Turn Out For New York City Marathon —
The runners weren’t the only people up bright and early for the marathon. Some volunteers arrived at 3:30 a.m. to set up and prepare.
They say it’s exciting to be part of the event and help out the participants.
“When you’re a marathoner and it’s cold out in the morning, you can tend to forget the clear plastic bag, you tend to want to get through, get to your corral, it’s a little bit chaotic, a little. But then once you get in, the adrenaline starts pumping and you’re ready to go,” one volunteer said.
“I think [the volunteers] being here is a super positive for everybody. They’re taking their time away on a Sunday from families or whatever else they’re doing and they’re just so positive. It’s great,” one runner said.
Keeping runners and spectators safe is the top concern for the NYPD.
The department says running such a massive security operation is a group effort.
“Planning for large scale events like this is what the NYPD does better than any other police department in the nation and we certainly don’t do it alone. There are our law enforcement partners at the local, state, and federal levels as well the New York Road Runners Club. We couldn’t ask for a more receptive, safety-conscious group of professionals to work with,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Thousands Run In 2019 TCS New York City Marathon
Joyciline Jepkosgei had never pushed her powerful legs over 26.2 miles, but it hardly showed Sunday — certainly not as she drove away from marathon veteran Mary Keitany.
Jepkosgei upset the four-time New York City Marathon champion to win the women’s race, a historic debut that left her seven seconds off the course record.
Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya won the men’s event for the second time in three years.
After pulling away from Kenyan countrymate Keitany with about three miles left, Jepkosgei crossed the finish in Central Park in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 38 seconds, the second-best run in course history.
The 25-year-old Jepkosgei holds the world record in the half-marathon but had never run this distance. She looked pained climbing the final hill but strode confidently over the final line.
It was too much for Keitany, a 37-year-old who collapsed after finishing 53 seconds later. She had won four of the previous five NYC Marathons.
Jepkosgei is the youngest New York winner since 25-year-old Margaret Okayo in 2001. She also won the New York City Half-Marathon in March and is the first runner to win both events.
Kamworor made it a Kenyan sweep moments later with a final time of 2:08:13.
He pulled away from countryman Albert Korir in the 24th mile. Korir finished second, and Ethiopian non-elite runner Girma Bekele Gebre was third.
Defending men’s champion Lelisa Desisa dropped out after seven miles, perhaps hurting following a grueling victory at the sweltering world championships last month.
Desisa, who is from Ethiopia, was in 17th place at the seven-mile mark before leaving the course. It was 45 degrees F at the start of the men’s race, ideal for marathoning.
The 26-year-old Kamworor finished third last year after winning in 2017.
He was greeted at the finish line by training partner Eliud Kipchoge, who completed the first sub-2 hour marathon last month — a feat accomplished under conditions so tightly controlled it didn’t qualify for the record books.
Kamworor, also the world record holder in the half-marathon, is the 10th multi-time winner.
American Desiree Linden set the pace for the women early and was the top U.S. finisher at sixth. The 2018 Boston Marathon winner hasn’t decided whether she will push on to the Olympic team trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29.
The 36-year-old wants to gauge her recovery before deciding whether to pursue a third Olympics.
“Right now’s not the time, just based on how my calves and my feet feel,” Linden said, half-joking.
Kellyn Taylor, an American putting her firefighting career on hold to pursue the Olympics, finished seventh.
Sara Hall, another U.S. Olympic hopeful who has taken on an unusually heavy race schedule, dropped out in mile 18 after running the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 29.
Manuela Schär of Switzerland won her third straight women’s wheelchair title, giving her eight consecutive marathon major victories. After rolling ahead of the record pace for much of the race, Schär crossed the finish about a minute off the mark at 1:44:20.
Daniel Romanchuk of the United States repeated as men’s wheelchair champion in another tight finish over Switzerland’s Marcel Hug. Romanchuk held off Hug by one second for the second straight year, crossing the finish line 1:37:24 England’s David Weir and American Aaron Pike were also within 10 seconds.
Last year, Romanchuk became the first American and youngest competitor to win the men’s division as a 20-year-old. He followed with victories this year at the Boston and London marathons. Hug took the New York title in 2016 and 2017.
Organizers were expecting around 52,000 runners to complete the marathon a year after a world record 52,813 crossed the finish.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)