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.