Commentary: New Yorkers Welcome Back Their Marathon

Two Kenyans lead the pack as the New York City marathon draws more than 50,000 entrants.

I found myself riveted Sunday morning to the ending, even though I’m not a marathon man. But I wanted to watch something that had been missing in American sports since 2011 because of a disaster that forced New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel his city’s marathon.

Yes, people disagreed over whether he should have called off the 2012 New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but Bloomberg had little choice, even in his tough-guy city that prides itself on never quitting.

But New Yorkers would not have Sandy to fret about this November day. They could line the streets along the five boroughs and enjoy the sight of men and women pushing themselves to the limit, going as far as their bodies and their minds could take them.

For marathons are as much about the mind as they are about the body. Of course, those of us who haven’t run one might never know it. We sense it, but we can’t know it for certain. We also hear our friends who do run marathons talk about the mind games 26.2 miles play.

So there I was in front of the TV set, watching a Kenyan male and a female lead the 50,740 elite runners, celebrities and weekend runners who began at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge across the finish line in the heart of the Big Apple.

Bloomberg was there for it. So was I.

Not there in person, though I wish I had been. I was there in spirit, because I know what canceling the race last year meant to a people, to a city and to a country.

Americans are a hardy lot, as we discovered in Boston earlier this year when madmen planted a bomb in the middle of that city’s marathon. We still ache from the carnage we saw; we still try to figure out how hate can run so deeply in a world where reason should reign.

We know that’s not the case. It isn’t because reason remains in short supply, a fact we found out when politicians shut down our government services for 16 days last month.

No one or no storm would shut down the New York City Marathon this time. No one would create the chaos that turned a street in Boston into triage station, blood and guts replacing sweat and tears.

Normalcy returned to our shores. For once, we could root for an outcome that we could applaud. Not that the winners Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo are names we recognize, though perhaps we should.

But their victories Sunday are symbols of normalcy, and that alone should be enough for anyone who wishes that our world didn’t need bomb-sniffing dogs, 1,500 surveillance cameras and police barricades everywhere we turn.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

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