Wednesday, October 29

By the Numbers

“It’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, because it’s on such a huge, epic scale,” says Alberto Salazar, who won the New York City Marathon three years in a row during the 1980s. The 40,000 registered runners were selected from more than 100,000 applicants for the 38th running of the 26.2 mile event through each of the city's boroughs this Sunday. They will huddle together at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island several hours ahead of the start. There, they will spend a good deal of their time standing in line at the 1,515 portable toilets. Finally, at 9:40 twin 75-millimeter howitzers will announce the official wave start of this, the world’s largest and most extravagant ceremony of endurance. More than half of the runners will have come from overseas. By the end of the weekend, the city will have raked in an estimated $200 million. And the runners will have, as marathon writer Liz Robbins says, “outrun their demons and their diagnoses” on a “day full of epiphanies.”