The Thrill and the AgonyThis week in sports by Chas Walker

Diddy runs the City

“Every child needs a high quality education and proper health care in order to prepare for the ‘Marathon of Life.’” Thus begins NYC rapper P. Diddy’s manifesto about why he chose to run the ING New York City Marathon Nov. 2. Diddy was out to raise money for the NYC public schools and several charities that serve with New York’s poor children, as well as to raise awareness about challenges faced by low-income children.

Asking fans to “diddy-cate” money per every mile of the 26.2-mile course, the rapper-cum-runner aimed to raise over $1 million.

In an accelerated two-month training program, Diddy ran under the guidance of three-time NYC Marathon winner Alberto Salazar and with a pair of stabilizing sneakers custom-built by sports scientists. He commented along the way that the challenge of training was “changing [his] lifestyle: cutting back on being out late, partying, working in the studio late, changing my diet.” But he made it to the finish line in 4 hours and 14 minutes – 15 minutes faster than Oprah Winfrey’s celebrated 1994 Marine Corps Marathon.

And while finishing the marathon is certainly an accomplishment, winning it is something else entirely. The women’s division was won by Margaret Okayo of Kenya in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 31 seconds, besting the course record she set in 2001 of 2:24:21. The men’s title was taken by another Kenyan, Martin Lel, in 2:10:30.

Over 34,000 runners began and finished the marathon, in large part thanks to the cheers of over 2 million fans who lined the streets of New York to see the runners through. The five-borough race begins on Staten Island at the Verrazano Bridge, passes through Brooklyn and Queens, then crosses over to Manhattan, shoots up briefly into the Bronx, and finally zips back down into Manhattan alongside Central Park.

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