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NYC Marathon Attracts Global Crowd

November 1, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ If New York actually is, as some say, the capital of the world, proof could be found at this year’s New York City Marathon. Over one-third of the 32,000 runners in this year’s marathon were foreign entrants, according to race organizers.

``It adds to the lively nature. It makes it more of a world class event when you have international representation,″ said Steve Boland, a spokesman for the New York Road Runners Club, which stages the race. Boland said 11,000 runners from 94 different countries decided it was worth the trip to run the 26.2-mile course through the city Sunday.

The race was won by John Kagwe of Kenya, while Franca Fiacconi became the first Italian to win the women’s division.

``There are a lot of hills, especially in the last four miles. ... (International runners) can really prove themselves here,″ said Edgar Cuesta, one of hundreds of volunteer translators for the race. Cuesta came from Bogota, Colombia, to help translate for runners.

Chilean runner Victor Belmar, 41, who finished his second New York marathon Sunday, said ``I think it’s the people. ... They stand on the sides all along the course and cheer you on. It’s true confraternity. It gives you motivation.″

Many take part despite major disabilities, including 31-year-old Norwegian runner Ketil Moe, who had a double lung transplant last year.

``We usually don’t see those people here,″ said Janice Moran, a physical therapist stationed near mile 24. ``They just keep on going.″

Fans lined the course for the final miles in Central Park, many of them immigrants who have made a new home in New York.

Adolfo Garcia, who moved here from Spain seven years ago, enjoys watching the final stages of the race in his Upper East Side neighborhood. He said he cheers for all the runners, but especially for the Spaniards.

Many runners wore their national colors in the form of small flags, headbands, and in a few cases, dyed hair. And fans waved their own flags to urge on their compatriots.

At mile 26, just a few hundred yards from the finish line, onlookers were out in force. Runners with their names on their shirts got personalized cheers. But the loudest cheers came when a runner slowed up or seemed unable to go on.

Some finishers walked straight out of the park, either going home or waiting for fellow runners.

Lorentz Gerard of France sat on a park bench at the West 72 Street entrance wrapped in foil to keep him warm. He said the fans are what makes this race special.

``This is the only marathon I know that is like this,″ he said. ``There are so many people cheering you on.″

EMS reported 48 injuries in the race, only a handful requiring hospital care, and none of the injuries were life threatening. Police reported no incidents.

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