More than half of the marathon applicants were selected to run the world's largest marathon via lottery. Why did so many people have their hearts set on running this particular marathon? Because it's the 2010 ING New York City Marathon--a global event staged in one of the world's most famous cities. The ING New York City Marathon is scheduled for November 7.
He pounded the pavement for 26.2 miles through five boroughs and over five bridges in front of 2 million screaming spectators. He traced the steps of legends like Rodgers, Salazar, Waitz and Loroupe, all multiple-time winners of this world's largest marathon, and hundreds of thousands of others who are all part of the ING New York City Marathon's rich history.
Ryan Spinney tackled the hills of Central Park and crossed the finish line at Tavern on the Green--blocks behind race winners Marilson Gomes dos Santos and Jelena Prokopcuka but ahead of the world's greatest cyclist Lance Armstrong--in 247th place among 37,869 finishers in the 2006 ING New York City Marathon.
And then in a New York minute, Spinney, who had just run a personal-best time of 2:46:09, put a cherry on his ice cream sundae of a day in New York City.
"We want everyone to walk away from the ING New York City Marathon with lasting memories of their day in New York City," said Richard Finn, the event's director of media relations. "For many, the marathon is like a milestone event in their life, like getting married."
Or getting engaged.
About 45 minutes after finishing the marathon, reuniting with friends and family members, and retrieving the engagement ring from his dad, Spinney--on the outskirts of Central Park, with thousands of runners still streaming across the park's finish line--asked his very surprised then-girlfriend/now wife Kristin, to marry him.
"I got down on one knee, too," said Spinney with a laugh, not an easy task after running 26.2 miles. "I am proud of that."
And why pop the question after running the ING New York City Marathon?
"We thought it would be a cool idea to have everyone get together for the marathon and make it a celebration. It's such an amazing race and special day in New York City," said Spinney, a high school teacher from Massachusetts who was married last summer. "And we wanted to make it (the engagement) an event."
Anyone who has ever run the ING New York City Marathon will have a story, perhaps not one involving "popping the question," but an unforgettable personal tale of the journey with the masses through this world-class city.
"The ING New York City Marathon is one of the races that everyone should do at least once in their lives," said John "The Penguin" Bingham, noted author and Runner's World magazine contributor, who ran the race in 2003. "It's a true global, international race. It's a great day to show off the city's boroughs. And you run through parts of the city that tourists may never get to see. I remember running through Harlem and little kids were handing me Halloween candy. It's a special event."
The ING New York City Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors with Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin. On November 7, about 40,000 runners are expected to gather on Staten Island for the start near the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Minutes after the cannon fires to signal "Go!" both levels of the bridge are flooded with runners, a sea of humanity and one of the most spectacular images in all of sports.