Runners battle heat and humidity at this year’s New York City Marathon


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Emily Shafer, News Editor

The New York City Marathon was back this year with its first full race in three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 6, approximately 50,000 runners ran through the five boroughs, though only 47,743 runners were able to make it to the finish line. The abnormally hot temperature and humid conditions for a November run threw off even professional runners that collapsed on the sidelines before they could finish.

The New York City Marathon was first introduced in 1970 and was only ran in circles through Central Park until runners passed 26.2 miles. Today, it spans all five boroughs, starting in Staten Island, continuing through Brooklyn and into Queens, over the Queensborough Bridge into Manhattan, up First Avenue into the Bronx and back down Fifth Ave into Central Park. 

The marathon was broken up into multiple waves, allowing professional disabled athletes to start first at 8 a.m., followed by professional men and women at 8:40 a.m. and 9:05 a.m., respectively. Following the professional athletes were five waves of non-professional runners, with the last wave starting at 11:30 a.m.

Runners from Kenya won both the women’s professional race and the men’s, with Evans Chebet coming in first after leader Daniel do Nascimento from Brazil collapsed six miles from the finish line in the seventy-degree heat. Chebet also won the Boston Marathon earlier this year, becoming the first man to win both in the same year. Sharon Lokedi was the women’s winner, who ran the 26.2 miles for the first time in her professional career. 

In the wheelchair division, Marcel Hug of Switzerland, also known as the “Swiss Silver Bullet,” won his fifth NYC Marathon and broke the previous course record which was set in 2006. Susannah Scaroni, representing the United States, won in the women’s wheelchair division and broke the women’s course record one year after she was hit by a car while training.

Celebrities also braced the unusually hot and humid weather on Nov. 6, with Hilary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, running her second NYC Marathon, actor Ashton Kutcher running for the first time and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Ellie Kemper taking to the streets as well. Many other celebrities also ran, such as news hosts, Olympic skiers, YouTubers and various actors.

Non-binary runners were allowed to register in their own category instead of having to choose between the men’s and women’s categories, and winners were awarded prize money for the first time this year. Jake Caswell was the winner this year and won $5,000. This category was introduced last year when only 16 runners finished. This year, 62 non-binary runners registered and 45 finished. This category was also introduced in the Chicago marathon for the first time this year.

Despite many runners not encountering problems, many recreational and even professional runners suffered heat-related injuries, were treated by medical professionals, were rushed to the ER or simply did not finish. Though there was an increased number of hydration stations, mist stations and medical personnel placed throughout the race, and even a warning at the beginning of the race, many runners suffered from dehydration and illness in the excessive heat.

Though this was the hottest NYC Marathon since the race date was changed in the ’80s to November instead of October, many runners still outperformed and broke records that they had been training for all year.