It was a clear and crisp morning of 50°, and except for a stiff northeasterly breeze, just right for running long distances. For the 4,823 starters in the New York City Marathon last Sunday the long distance was grand tour of 26 miles and 385 yards over five bridges and along the streets of all five of the city's boroughs before winding up in Central Park. And if the field was the largest ever to take part in a marathon, it also was a field with class. Heading up—and in some cases mingled in with—entrants from most of the states and 27 foreign countries were world class marathoners such as Bill Rodgers of Melrose, Mass., who had won the event last year, 1972 Olympic champ Frank Shorter, a bit lame but running for the love of it, Finland's Lasse Viren. Jerome Drayton of Canada, winner of this year's Boston Marathon, Ian Thompson and Chris Stewart of England and Kenny Moore and Don Kardong, the fourth-place finishers at Munich and Montreal. "It is the best marathon field ever assembled." said Shorter.
And away they went, up and over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the start on Staten Island, rolling down into Brooklyn, twisting through Queens on the way to the Bronx. A knot of 19 runners moved into the lead, and finally two men merged from it, flickering along a jammed aisle of cheering spectators. They were Rodgers and Garry Bjorklund of Minneapolis, a 10,000-meter finalist in Montreal. Then Rodgers broke away and ran free for the final six miles. He came home in 2:11:28.2, the world's best time this year, followed by Drayton and Stewart. Behind them the hordes kept crossing the line for hours. Shorter, who had been forced to surrender to a pulled hamstring after 19 miles, best summed up the race. "Rodgers ran the 26 miles faster," he said, "than anybody could have made it by taxi-cab on a normal New York day."
After crossing the Verrazano Bridge (below), the leaders rolled on against a backdrop of skyscrapers.
Wheeling for home, Rodgers ran the last six miles alone.