Runners on the bridge entering the Bronx. Photo: Lori Freshwater
Runners on the bridge entering the Bronx on the Willis Avenue Bridge. Photo: Lori Freshwater

Kim Kennedy said she was supposed to work on the day of the New York City Marathon. Kennedy, a trauma nurse at Lincoln Hospital, had the flu as well. But neither of those obstacles prevented her from coming at 8:30 on the morning of the big race to welcome the runners to the borough.

Kennedy was one of scores who came out to see the runners as they came up from Brooklyn, making their way through Mott Haven via the Willis Avenue Bridge before veering west into Manhattan.

“Welcome to the Bronx! “You are in the Bronx! Welcome! Push it, push it!” Kennedy bellowed repeatedly for each new group of runners. Her voice started to crack by lunchtime.

It was perfect marathon weather, with highs in the 60s and clear skies. Singer/songwriter Smolsky sang, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, playing everything from Purple Rain to Let it Be as runners crossed the bridge into the Bronx. “This is a song I wrote especially for today,” he said after singing a folksy yet upbeat tune he called, Run.

Four firefighters stood in front of an NYFD truck near the bridge cheering the runners, who yelled back, “Thank you!” The firefighters responded, “No — thank you!”

Some spectators came out to support runners who participated to draw attention to specific causes. One contingent came decked out in green to support Mexican national Antonio Tizapa. Tizapa’s son was one of 43 young men studying at a teacher’s college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero who disappeared in September 2014, reportedly abducted and executed by Mexican police for protesting wages and conditions. Tizapa hoped his participation in the marathon would raise awareness about the case and “gain public support on the larger issue of disappeared persons in Mexico.”

The New York City Marathon has grown from a Central Park race with 55 finishers to the world’s biggest marathon, with nearly 50,000 finishers in 2015.

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