On the first Sunday of November, 50,000 runners dressed in their best sweatpants and Spandex are expected to take part in the 45th New York City Marathon; the number of photos generated by their 26.2-mile trip through all five boroughs will be almost certainly upwards of that. Since the first race in 1970, when 127 participants ran laps around Central Park, the race has grown into a massive event that attracts more than a million spectators along its route, cheering family and friends and photographing the colorful blur that sweeps past them. On view in time for the race is “The New York City Marathon: The Great Race,” the first exhibition focusing on photography to explore the history and experience of running the city’s race, on view until March 2016 at The Museum of the City of New York.
The exhibition includes images made by both amateur and professional photographers who responded to the museum’s call for images. From several thousand entries, 120 were selected, taken on devices ranging from cell phones to state-of-the-art digital cameras. Among them are Dina Litovsky’s study of a drift of green water cups left in the runners’ wake in Queens, and Adrian Kinloch’s composition framing participants against the face of an empty brick- and plywood-fronted building in Brooklyn. Spanning locations along the marathon route from the starting line, through diverse neighborhoods, across five bridges and ending at the Central Park finish line, the photos record the struggle and pride the race inspires.
Curated by Sean Corcoran, curator of prints and photographs at MCNY, the show mirrors the inclusive spirit of the race by combining photos from professionals with those from fans and participants. “With this exhibition, we hope to celebrate the Marathon as an event that brings all five boroughs and anyone who visits them together in truly inspiring fashion,” explains Corcoran in a statement. Meanwhile, photos for this year’s race are already accumulating on social media – five days before the big day, hashtag #nycmarathon has close to 90,000 posts on Instagram, and growing.