In about 40 minutes, the starting gun will sound and 30,000 people from all over the world will run, jog and walk through the five boroughs as part of the world's greatest race, the New York City Marathon.
What makes this marathon so unique? To begin with, the 26.2 mile track is made up of the streets, bridges, and parks of the Capital of the World. The runners will wind through dozens of neighborhoods where millions of New Yorkers will be lining the streets.
And even though the sports world will be watching to see who wins, this race is ultimately remarkable, and inspirational, not because of the tremendous competition at among world-class runners, but because of the thousands of other stories of people meeting their personal challenges by running more than 26 miles.
For some of those people, it's the first time that they've ever taken part a marathon. Then there are people like Jimmy Behr, a Staten Islander who is running in his 24th consecutive marathon today. Many entrants-including a former Olympian who will be walking and running in the marathon as his first competition of any kind after receiving a heart transplant last year-will consider it an accomplishment if they finish the race. Others will be shooting for the course record of two hours, eight minutes and one second set in 1989.
The beauty of this event is that everyone-including men and women of every age, race, religion, national origin, and profession-is on the track together, challenging one another and challenging themselves to do their best. That's the most fitting metaphor for life in New York City that I can imagine.
I want to wish the veterans, the novices, and everyone in between the best of luck. And I want to thank all the spectators who come out to support the participants. Your encouragement is critical to all the runners, and an impressive display of the spirit of the City in and of itself. As one runner said in 1991, "It didn't matter who you were or where you were from. They were rooting for you."
From Gracie Mansion, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.