|Monday, November 3
Koplowitz grinds out 16th NYC Marathon
NEW YORK -- Zoe Koplowitz completed her New York City Marathon mission Monday, reaching the finish on crutches more than 27 hours after the first runner crossed the line.
"I'm overwhelmed," Koplowitz said after sinking into a chair in Central Park. "I'd give my kingdom for two Advil."
Koplowitz, who has diabetes and multiple sclerosis, was the last marathoner to complete the race, finishing in 29 hours, 45 minutes. This was the 16th NYC Marathon she has finished. The 55-year-old New Yorker has also finished marathons in Boston and London.
Diagnosed 30 years ago with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system, Koplowitz used the two purple crutches to help get through the race.
Her time hardly mattered.
"I think that's really the ultimate lesson, you just keep going until you get it done," she said. "You do what it takes."
The first woman to cross the line, Margaret Okayo of Kenya, finished in a record 2:22:31 on Sunday. Okayo and countryman Martin Lel, the men's winner, were up early Monday and officiated at the posting of the marathon results. Then it was off to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. After that, they were given keys to the city.
"The marathon's special character is derived from the blending of elite athletes and athletes with disabilities, with the almost 35,000 other competitors," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "I applaud their dedication, determination and drive as well as the support of the more than 2 million spectators who lined the course."
Meanwhile, Koplowitz made her way through the course. She started at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, more than four hours before the rest of the marathoners. She stopped every mile to stretch and, because she has diabetes, she tested her blood sugar every two hours. She took breaks but didn't sleep.
She said she was at mile seven or eight when the professional runners overtook her. Whenever that happens, she stops to watch them pass.
"The ultimate gift is being both a spectator and a participant," said Koplowitz, who hopes to make it through 20 NYC Marathons. "Every year this becomes a far more precious experience."