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Sweaty and Exhausted, 29,000 Race Through New York

November 4, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ They sprinted and stumbled, huffed and puffed, walked and even wheeled their way through the city, all 26.2 miles from the towering Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the finish line in Central Park.

And while a few experts made Sunday’s New York City Marathon look easy, most of the 29,000 participants were aching and groaning weekend warriors who fought pain and brisk temperatures in the 40s just to get to finish line.

``I knew I’d make it _ I’d walk or crawl,″ said Roy Cambert of Houston, clutching the race’s shiny foil blanket around his shoulders. ``But those last few miles were rough.″

Most were far behind the race’s eventual winners, Giacomo Leone, a 25-year-old policeman from Italy, and Anuta Catuna, 28, a racer from Romania. He finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, and she made it in 2 hours, 28 minutes.

About a dozen entrants were in their 80s, and 90 were in wheelchairs _ including a husband and wife _ and one on crutches.

``Keep it goin’ fellas _ I love you,″ Mary Ali of the Bronx shouted to runners. ``Five more to go, five more to go,″ the man behind her chanted.

For most, sticking with it was what mattered.

James Downey, of Queens, kept his eyes glued on the human stream pouring by to catch his son, Patrick, a 32-year-old Navy pilot running his first New York marathon.

``I discouraged him _ I told him, `you’ll never be the same,‴ joked the elder Downey. ``He’ll finish all right _ maybe around midnight.″

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