The New York City Marathon will celebrate its 40th running this Sunday, November 1st when tens of thousands of runners from across the globe will enjoy the sights, sounds, and outrageous crowds of the city’s five boroughs.
What many of these athletes won’t know is that this unparalleled look at New York is thanks in large part to Fred Lebow, the avid runner and Romanian immigrant that founded the New York City marathon in 1970. In honor of the U.S. bicentennial, Lebow had the guts to take the 1976 marathon from Central Park to the streets of New York City. The inaugural street-course ran through all five boroughs at a time when many of these neighborhoods were unimaginably dangerous. When the starting gun went off that fall morning, skeptics swore that some might not come back alive.
Yet, 26.2 miles later, Lebow and his fellow runners had united a city and ignited the distance running craze.
Filmmaker Judd Ehrlich captured Fred Lebow’s incredible life, which is in large part the history of the New York City Marathon in Run for Your Life. The movie, which premiered last year, depicts the determination of a slow but dedicated runner who fell in love with the sport and decided to share that passion with the world.
Good luck to all of those runners who will become a part of Fred Lebow’s legacy this Sunday. May each of you find his inspiration and love of both the city and the sport on the streets of New York.