I recently finished reading "A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Street of New York." by Liz Robbins. Ms. Robbins has been a sportswriter for seventeen years—the last nine at the New York Times—she has covered marathons, the Olympics, tennis, and the NBA.
In "A Race Like No Other," Ms. Robbins tells the story of the 2007 New York City Marathon, which happened to be my first marathon. I finished that race in 4:21:57. The book intertwines the stories of the elite runners and "ordinary" runners with something to prove. We learn about Pam Rickard, a recovering alcoholic from Virginia, Harrie Baskt, a cancer survivor from Riverdale, New York, and many others. We are introduced to ordinary New Yorkers like Carmine Santoli who has been overseeing the same aid station in Brooklyn for 27 marathons and NYPD Officer John Codiglia who has been shouting words of encouragement to runners on the far corner of 7th Avenue and Central Park South. Lastly, we meet the likes of Percy Sutton, Ted Corbitt, and Fred Lebow who laid the foundation for what the New York City Marathon is today.
Ms. Robbins does a great job describing everything that makes the New York City Marathon the best race in the world. I could not put this book down. I found myself wanting to learn more about Paula Radcliffe, Martin Lel, and who knew that Hendrick Ramaala was the "class clown" of marathoning. He takes such a loosey goosey approach to competitive marathoning.
The New York City Marathon is a race every marathoner needs to run at least once. If you need convincing read this book.
P.S. I also recommend listening to Brandon's Marathon Podcast Episode 60 where Brandon interviews Ms. Robbins and to the Runner's Roundtable Podcast Episode 56 where Joe talks with Marci (who is also mentioned in Ms. Robbins' book) about this year's New York City Marathon.