In dark times, humanity prevails 

Runners make their way during the New York City Marathon in the Queens borough of New York, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. This year’s marathon was the largest in history. Photo by Jeenah Moon/AP Photo

Things have been pretty dark lately. War in the Middle East, war in Ukraine and an almost government shutdown have dominated the news sphere. Couple that with the crippling amount of schoolwork assigned before break and sometimes it can feel like nothing is going right. And no matter how hard you try to avoid it, the bad news seems to follow you like a dark cloud full of hatred, fear and a lack of hope. 

Scrolling through TikTok a few days ago, it seemed like each swipe led me further into a bottomless pit of bad news. You know how it is sometimes. But then, I stumbled across something a little bit lighter; one of my favorite creators, Timm Chiusano, had recently finished the New York City Marathon. I have never met him, but for some reason, I felt an intense sense of pride for his accomplishment. From his video, I jumped in headfirst into a New York City Marathon wormhole. 

This year’s Nov. 5 New York City Marathon was the largest in the world, with over 50,000 finishers. A few other records were broken that day too. Tamirat Tola, the first place male finisher, beat the race record by 8 seconds. Kayleigh Williamson became the first ever female finisher with Down Syndrome to complete the New York City Marathon. The marathon stretches through all five boroughs of the city and brings together runners from nearly 150 countries

What is special about this marathon is not just the records, though. The energy surrounding the New York City Marathon is unlike that of any other. The spectators created an electric atmosphere for not just their friends and family, but also strangers. Photos and videos of the marathon show all of the different ways that the boroughs supported the marathoners. One group hosted a karaoke and dance party to “Y.M.C.A.,” other people handed out free ice cream, bananas and Fireball shots so that runners could get an encouraging boost. 

The runners also contribute to the energy. Some runners competed to honor loved ones or support charities, while other runners served as guides and pacers for those who are blind. 

Watching the videos of the marathon, I found myself getting emotional. It was amazing to see people of all ethnicities, religions and socio-economic classes combine for a common purpose. Other TikTok viewers held a similar sentiment. A comment on one video read, “Humans being humans; it’s so lovely to see us all just exist in a space together.”  

The New York City Marathon serves as a reminder of the humanity that still exists in a dark world because the event itself is distinctly human. Runners would hold hands, hug their loved ones and jump for joy with random strangers. Everyone was giving into their most basic human desires: to show love, be loved and celebrate. 

It seemed as if for a day, the runners and spectators forgot about all of the ways in which they were divided. It did not matter what borough they were in or what country they came from. They were all humans who shared a common purpose. 

In scary times like these, it is easy to forgo kindness and give in to fear. The runners and spectators at the New York City Marathon chose to set aside that fear and open themselves up to the joys that come with interacting with their community. It is inspiring to see that despite everything, they chose peace and love. 

Perhaps the most inspiring of moments came from the finish line. Runners limped across the finish, arms in the air and tears flowing. Some crossed holding the hands of their friends or carrying signs to honor those they had lost. For many, a dream long in the works finally came true. Each finisher was a reminder of the strength of the individual. But the spectators reminded us that we are even stronger when we come together. 

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