Runner's World (UK) - - Human Race -

Fin­ish-line cheer­leader at the New York City Marathon

It’s 8.07pm at mile 25.9 of the New York City Marathon – more than eight hours af­ter the race win­ners glided through. With the crowds and bar­ri­ers gone, the sharp turn off 59th street into Cen­tral Park would be easy to miss if it weren’t for a small group of loud spec­ta­tors, led by a woman bran­dish­ing a home­made sign with an il­lu­mi­nated ar­row. Tracey Wil­son has been cheer­ing and di­rect­ing run­ners to­ward the marathon’s end from this ex­act spot for more than a decade.

All day, as an of­fi­cial fin­ish line em­cee, she wel­comes run­ners to Cen­tral Park from a stage at Columbus Cir­cle. But at 5.30pm, when crews ar­rive to tear down that stage, she hops off and grabs her sign. She stays un­til the end, her sign act­ing as a bea­con for back-of-thep­ack­ers. ‘So many peo­ple, es­pe­cially by this time, have worked re­ally hard to get here,’ says Tracey. ‘The mo­ment you look in to their eyes and you see how ex­cited they are that you are cheer­ing for them, you have this con­nec­tion.’

As she talks, she in­ter­rupts her­self to cheer for the run­ners trick­ling by ev­ery cou­ple of min­utes, telling them they’re ‘al­most there’ and that they have done a ‘great job’.

‘ What I think is mag­i­cal about this spot is that it is the fi­nal push to the fin­ish line,’ says Tracey. ‘It is that fi­nal place to dig deep and find a lit­tle more in­side.’ An­other run­ner am­bles into view. Tracey holds up her flash­ing sign, waves it and screams. The woman smiles. She must have found some­thing more in­side, be­cause she starts to run.

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