About the New York City Marathon
Your starting gate is the longest suspension bridge in the Americas. Suddenly you’re in Brooklyn. A massive borough, it turns out. To your left, glimpses of the most iconic skyline in the world. Then it’s Queens. Just over halfway, you enter Manhattan via the Queensboro bridge. Up you go into The Bronx, then back down through Harlem and, via Fifth Avenue, to collapse on the meadows of the world’s most famous park. You’ve delighted two million spectators.
Every marathon is special, but this one is in New York City.
What started as a humble race looping repeatedly around Central Park – only 127 runners participated in the inaugural event, in 1970 – has evolved to become the world’s biggest marathon. Today, it inspires more than 50,000 runners to course through the city’s five boroughs.
Among the World Majors, the NYC Marathon is on the harder, slower side. The field narrows considerably at each of the five bridges and, as anyone who’s raced it will advise, don’t skip hill training. The morning’s start logistics (getting to Staten Island) also leave little room for a good night’s sleep. Still, the race has been home to three world records: Beth Bonner’s in 1971, and Grete Waitz’s back-to-back-to-back feats in 1978, 1979, and 1980. No man has ever set a world record in the race.
While 2023 marks the 54th year since the first event, November’s race will be only the 52nd edition. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy spoiled the festivities. In 2020, it was the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, when the starting gun rings out from the eastern peak of Staten Island, the city and its runners will come together to write another chapter in the storied history of the New York City Marathon.
UNSEEN is where running and art converge, shining new light on the interlacing stories of marathoners and photographers on race day.
It’s an exploration of the runner as artist and, often, vice versa.
Preparation. Execution. Struggle. Euphoria. The drama of crossing the finish line and getting the perfect shot are often one and the same.
To showcase these triumphs, we collected deep cuts from the hard drives of photographers who’ve shot the NYC Marathon.
The running community was born in New York City and has deep roots. Its vibrant culture is very much alive. From the iconic New York City Marathon to countless local races and events, the city pulsates with the rhythm of runners pounding the pavement. It's a place where people of all backgrounds and abilities come together to embrace the joys of running, forging connections and conquering the concrete jungle one step at a time. The energy, determination, and camaraderie of NYC's running culture continue to inspire both residents and visitors, making the city an epicenter for those who love to run. This year Bridge Runners are celebrating 20 years of running in the city that never sleeps.
Our annual exhibition and magazine bring these visual stories to life on race weekend and in print.
Aisha McAdams is a documentary photographer who travels the world to capture the intersection of sports and humanity. She recently published We Appreciate Your Interest, However (2021). Her work is driven by stories found within sport and recognized for its intimacy.
I am a photographer from Montana, living in Southern California. I have a passion for capturing the emotions within sport and have made it my career doing so.
The energy around the NYC marathon is incredible. I’ve been able to shoot it 2 or 3 times now and am always focused on the individual. There’s something really intimate about having a front row seat and being able to freeze time with an image during the moments of competition.
After studying and making films for over a decade, I put my film camera away for almost 15 years. Then once I began running marathons in 2019, I realized that I could pick up a still camera as a hobby and just document my friends while they trained. Guess I never looked back.
It's a privilege to have a front row seat to the most vibrant running community in the world. My passion has always been to document the hard work, ups/downs, and community love that is going on in the scene each day.
I became a photographer over 11 years ago. I started out with street photography first. I would walk around NYC with friends on weekends from sunrise to sunset learning from them how to operate a camera. I bought my first camera from my barber for $300.
I took that same camera body to the 2012 US Olympic Trials and rented a lens that retailed for over $20K. Probably the dumbest thing I could have done but I just wanted to give myself as many opportunities as possible.
I made a promise to myself that I wanted to run a marathon before turning 30, so in 2016, I ran my first marathon. With no training I finished the NYC Marathon. Shortly after, my boy Fred heard I completed the marathon and invited me to come out on a run with Black Roses. That was my introduction to the crew scene.
Little by little, I became more involved with the running community - at first locally and eventually globally. Running and photography became so intertwined for me. Friends in the community started sharing my work. Soon strangers started sharing. Each job I signed up for led to another. Some really big opportunities like shooting the world championships at Budapest, Doha and the Olympics started coming my way. I started believing in my growth and my talent, but I still couldn’t help my disbelief each time. I felt lucky and so grateful.
My favorite job has been to cover the finish line for the elites and making my way back to the cheer zone to photograph the community for each of the Abbott World Majors.
Being born and raised in Queens and having this platform have allowed me to show the world NYC through my lens(es) and why I love this city so much.
If it wasn't for the running community, in NYC and beyond, I would not have the career I have today. Photography has infinite reach and power.
Photographer / Runner born and raised in Florida, currently living in Los Angeles. I found running in middle school and the sport changed my life.
I only have one experience with NYC marathon and the energy of the weekend is undeniable. I spent the entire day at the WRU Crew cheer zone at mile 23. If I ever run another marathon NYC is on my short list.
Joe Hale is a 23 year old freelance photographer based in NYC. Coming from a competitive running background, Joe picked up a camera in college when he wanted to stay involved in the sport but his performances on the track weren’t gonna get it done.
The NYC Marathon was his first introduction to the NYC running community. First year he shot it was 2018, and has photographed every year since.
The images he chose are a testament to the hard work and determination it takes to get through the marathon, while also showing the diversity of people who are drawn to this race to compete against their goals.
My name is Kyle. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California and lucky enough to still call it home.
I’m a photographer, an outdoorsman, and an athlete.
Growing up outdoors, riding bikes, playing sports, climbing, backpacking, and traveling. I was lucky enough to be immersed in many cultures and inspiring environments. I love to meet new people, build new relationships, and explore the world around me.
Photography has allowed me to capture these moments and so much more. Enabling me to see the world through a new lens encourages me to interact with my surroundings and discover the world around me.
Mike Sun likes to capture the quiet mundane moments that might happen in between the epic ones. The little things that when added together make for an interesting story.
“Super cliche, but New York really is a photographer’s dreamland. The energy, the people, the city feels like a breaking wave, and when you get in the right photo-groove (for lack of a better term), all you have to do is just ride the wave and everything feels amazing.
The 2022 New York City Marathon took those feelings to another level for me. It was my first time experiencing and documenting a marathon and I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience. You could feel the struggle and focus of the runners, the anxiety of the people cheering. There was a connection between the city and the people running through it. It made me glad to be human.”
Shot by Paulsta for OMRC
Designed by Ross Bryant (@sosevennyc).
I’m drawn to the movements of life unfolding. It’s why I prefer to run in urban environments over beautiful trails or countrysides. Seeing people living, going about their day to day, doing their own thing, propels me forward in my miles and my photography. I’ve naturally gravitated to the running communities here in New York because of the energy, personalities, and individuality that are reflection of the city itself. Like them, I try to reflect that energy in my photos.
Quentin is a street photographer from Wollongong Australia, now living in New York City.
Since his first run with OMRC back in March of 2021, Quentin has found a new source of joy and inspiration from running.
The transition from street to sports photography has allowed Quentin to share his art more directly with the running community.
“Everyone runs and races for their own personal reasons and to be able to capture a special moment in time for them, that feeling is just priceless.”
“We look after a group of talented young girls in terms of their schooling, their training and mentor them through their teen years into hopefully, strong powerful young women!“
Rahab started her journey as an athlete in camp, but unfortunately, injuries kept her sidelined quite a lot. She expressed an interest in photography and always wanted to take photos of the girls on my phone. To keep her involved and continue our empowerment mission, we got her a camera and have Chris Cooper teach her how to take photos and edit. She’s really found her home behind the camera and loves to see which photos we pick out for the Unseen Gallery!
Mary ngugi: 2023 New York Marathon let’s see. I know I’ve trained well, I’ve given my all, made my sacrifices leaving my family behind again and I just hope that I do them and myself proud come Sunday.
Sean Henry Lee
I bought my first camera in 2020. But explored it timidly and in automatic mode until the middle of 2022. From 2020 to 2022 I used to shoot a lot when traveling and then put it away for a couple of months again when coming back home. But in 2022 I brought together two passions: running and photography. This was the turning point: the best match ever.
NYC was my first major as a photographer - Nov 22. Over 50 50,000 souls spreading love and smiles for 26.2 miles and beyond the five boroughs. A few hours of experiencing life as it was supposed to be.
There is this place where the magic happens. There is this place where time passes in a different way. Where you don't really care about what's going on around you. You're just paying attention to the powerful emotions evolving your own soul during a 26.2 miles journey.
There is this place where everything gets together and turns into just one feeling. Smiles and tears. Silence and noise. Sweat and blood. All those things turn into peace of mind, even when the mind is not 100%.
There are so many stories that fit into 26.2 miles. And I realized that bringing to light the unrevealed details and stories with my camera makes more sense to me than bringing home my own medal.
After the finish line, we all wanna feel time going by on a different rhythm again. We all wanna be in that magical place again. And that's why, at some point, the same question is going to fill each one of our souls and bodies: 'What's next?!'
Yes! The ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. To me, the perfect definition of 'the calm before the storm'.
Running and photography intersected for me at 14. I was assigned by my High School Newspaper to capture a cross country practice. So naturally I ran with a camera for the entire practice, how else would one shoot XC? Within a few hours I had the photos, and a new spot on the XC team.
Running and photography have unlocked all the doors of my personal and professional life. I met my wife, started a content agency, and continue to work for dream clients because of my ability to run and shoot.
The NYC Marathon is the culmination of the running year. The city comes alive to lift up 50,000 runners. For me it's a chance to seek special moments, fleeting light, and capture the best day of the year.
Ash's path into photography was quite unique, emerging from his passion for running. During his college days, he embraced the world of running and found himself introduced to Run Dem Crew, a London-based running community predominantly comprised of individuals from the creative industry. Within this supportive community, Ash embarked on capturing the journeys of fellow runners, sharing these images on social media. As time passed, his photographic talents gained recognition and admiration, thus led him to work with brands like Nike and Adidas on small campaigns and his career has progressed since. His career has since flourished, now focused on capturing images of some of the world's best athletes.
A decade on, Ash’s still running and part of the Bridge The Gap running community. He is currently chasing the World’s Six Majors.