Olympic stars survive NYC Marathon

NEW YORK -- Apolo Anton Ohno crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon in 3:25:14 -- not bad for a guy who is used to full-gas efforts of a minute or two. Sweating but steady-legged in the afternoon sun, Ohno said he was more than satisfied with his run.

"I've always thought speedskaters were the most fit athletes in the world," said Ohno, the short-track star whose eight Olympic medals are the most for any American athlete in the Winter Games. "I did a pretty good job representing."

Ohno said he had some cramping problems, but still ran a negative split, logging 1:44:17 at the halfway point. Beyond the finish line, he got a congratulatory bear hug from 2010 NYC marathon finisher Jared Fogle, the iconic spokesman for the Subway chain that sponsored Ohno's team.

"This was tough, this was really tough," Ohno told me. "You know, my body was designed for pure sprinting."

Ohno, who raised $26,200 for the Special Olympics with his effort, said the race is "one off the checklist" of new challenges he's seeking out while he decides whether or not to compete in Sochi in 2014.

"I need a little time," he said. "I'm taking a long break."

Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch wiped away tears after hugging her husband, former Arizona Diamondbacks (and current free agent) pitcher Casey Daigle, and draping her finisher's medal around the neck of their 5-year-old son, Ace.

She said the marathon was the only sporting experience she's had that compares with competing in the Summer Olympics, where her pitching helped lead the U.S. team to gold (2004) and silver (2008) medals.

"Just running the streets was absolutely everything and more than I possibly expected," Finch told me. "It was incredible to see everyone running for a reason, all the charities, the people in wheelchairs."

Finch was one of those running to benefit someone else. She started dead last in the largest field ever (47,107), knowing her sponsor, Timex, would donate $1 to youth programs operated by the marathon organizers, the New York Road Runners, for every person she passed.

Thus, Finch's finishing time of 4:05:26 really took a backseat to the roughly 30,000 people she dropped, although she was pleased to have bested the 2010 Timex-sponsored runner, retired NFL wide receiver Amani Toomer, by eight minutes.

"I soaked it all up," said Finch, who gave birth to her second son, Diesel, in June. "I understand why people do it over and over and put themselves through this incredible pain to experience it.

"It's so empowering. And to see the generosity of people on the streets and the excitement, I think it overwhelmed me, how it just united the community and the world."