The Irish in the New York Marathon

Tatyana McFadden is greeted by her mother, Debbie, at the finish line of the 2013 NYC Marathon

December / January 2014

After a one year hiatus (the 2012 race was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy) and amidst heightened security, the New York City Marathon retuned to the streets of the metropolis’s five boroughs on November 3. Two million spectators cheered on 48,000 runners, some of whom participated to win, some for fun, and others to raise money for various charities and causes.

There were 387 Irish runners across more than 20 teams. Wayne Reid (32) was the male Irish winner (235th overall, 212 gender place) with a time of 2:48:40. A former Iron Man competitor from Athlone, he is deaf and signs for RTE. Margaret McMahon (47) was the female Irish winner (1,620 overall, 112 gender place), with a time of 3:11:26.

Kevin Armstrong, a sports writer for the Daily News, had planned to run last year, when his mother (“an Irish immigrant fond of taking the long way”) was a patient at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and had a view of the Queensboro Bridge. Following her death in March, Reid dedicated the 2013 race to her and ran with Fred’s Team, which raises money for Sloan-Kettering. Donations this year raised $4.1 million.

Colin and Stephanie Mathers, Irish ex-pats living in Queens, ran for the Rory Staunton Foundation, which promotes awareness of childhood sepsis. Rory Staunton died of undiagnosed sepsis in 2012, just days after receiving a cut while playing basketball at school. The husband and wife team stuck by each other throughout the marathon, finishing at 3:54:11 (Colin) and 3:54:12 (Stephanie).

In the women’s para-athlete wheelchair division, Tatyana McFadden won by a landslide, completing the 26.2-mile course in 1:59:13, three-and-a-half minutes faster than her closest competitor, Wakako Tsuchida of Japan. McFadden, who was born in Russia, suffered from spina bifida at birth and spent the first six years of her life in an impoverished orphanage, walking with her arms. In 1994, she was adopted by Debbie McFadden, who, after visiting Tatyana’s orphanage on business as the commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, felt a strong connection with the young girl and brought her to the U.S. In fourth place was Amanda McGrory, who still holds the course record of 1:50:25, set in 2011.


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