The New York City Marathon was a personal memorial for some of the thousands of runners who made their way through the five boroughs during the city’s famous footrace Sunday.
Althea Vega, 47, started running the 26.2-mile race a few years ago in honor of three close family members.
“It’s more personal,” said Vega as she waited to board the Staten Island Ferry before the start of the race. “I run in honor of my brother, who passed away of leukemia; my mother, who also passed away six months after my brother passed away; and then my dad passed away last year after I graduated from grad school.
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“I have my angels, my family, who guide me,” she added.
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Some runners were hard to miss.
Ronald Reader, 72, and Fred Rodriguez, 52, were dressed up in costume as the Blues Brothers, in matching black suits and fedoras.
“I think I’ve done 20 (marathons) with the suits on,” Reader said.
“This is our 18th in New York,” Rodriguez added.
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The Long Island residents have figured out how to maximize their unconventional getup, starting with slicing the linings out of their jackets.
And the perfect 60-degree weather made it easier.
“You would think it’s hard, but it’s easy as its not hot out,” Rodriguez said. “We only wear them one day a year, and we don’t train in them.”
On their way in to board the ferry, the Blues Brothers stopped to chat with James Lu, a 78-year-old Japanese immigrant sporting a flowing white beard and proudly waving both American and Japanese flags.
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Lu has run in every New York City marathon since 1998.
“People say ‘I’m so old! I’m so old!’” Lu said. “No! I’m young, you see? I’m 78, but I feel like I’m 18.”
His training advice is pretty basic.
“You just have to run,” Lu said. “Do chin-ups, pushups, muscles, muscles. Your body’s strong, your brain’s stronger!”
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Across the terminal, JPMorgan Chase sports marketer Nubia Murray, 32, was warming up ahead of her second marathon.
“I actually got engaged on Friday, so I’m running for my ring,” Murray said. “That’s really what’s going to get me through these next five hours...I get to go put on my engagement ring, have a glass of champagne and celebrate with my fiancé.”
Murray said she had no idea her boyfriend of 10 years was going to propose to her, though she was glad he hadn’t waited to do it Sunday.
“He felt I would be a bit too discombobulated after,” she laughed.
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As for the winners, Kenya’s Mary Keitany finished in 2:24:26 to lay claim to a third consecutive top women’s spot. A feat that hasn’t been achieved since Norway’s Grete Waitz won five straight from 1982-1986.
On the men’s side, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea finished first in 2:07:51. The defending champion, Stanley Biwott, stopped before the 15K mark due to injury.
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