November 3, 2009 3:53:00 PM
The Golden Triangle was well represented Sunday at the 40th edition of the New York City Marathon.
Six local athletes competed and finished the 26.2-mile event that featured a field of nearly 44,000 competitors that ran through New York''s five boroughs -- Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan.
Columbus'' Brad Atkins and his wife, Melissa, posted the best finishes of any local runners. Brad finished 807th with a time of 2 hours, 58.01 seconds, while Melissa had a personal-best time of 3:56.15.
Marsha and Walter Cosby, also of Columbus, finished 35,083rd and 36,431st, respectively, with times of 5:03.18 and 5:11.40.
John Peters Jr. was 35,575th with a time of 5:05.58, while Bonnie Partridge, of Columbus, also finished 39,857th with a time of 5:40.59.
All of the runners who were interviewed Monday said competing in the marathon was "amazing" and that it truly was an international event.
"It was great," said Brad Atkins, who hit his time goal in his first running of the event. "It started out a little tough with all of the people, especially with being able to pace properly. It thinned out and they had us divided pretty well, and after the first mile or so I was able to pace myself like I wanted to."
Atkins said the crowd support at the race was fantastic and helped motivate him, particularly in the final six miles when he started to feel a little fatigued.
Atkins said the time should improve his seeding and give him a better position when he competes in the Boston Marathon in April.
"It was amazing to see so many countries represented and the caliber of people there," Atkins said. "The elite field was really great. To experience all of that being from Mississippi was certainly different. It was huge. It was a great marathon."
Melissa Atkins said she had no idea she would be able to get a personal-best time. She said it was tricky manipulating herself through the sea of runners, and she echoed Brad''s feelings that the crowd and the sights through the five boroughs made it a memorable experience.
"It was an awesome experience," Melissa Atkins said. "I felt like the first 16 miles I was in dreamland. It was surreal the whole experience."
At mile No. 20, Atkins thought she was ahead of her schedule and she managed to fight through some pain in the 23rd mile to finish.
The Cosbys said they weren''t as concerned with their times and just wanted to experience the feeling of competing in the event.
Their goal had been to run the marathon when they were 50, but Martha, who is 52, said they had to wait three years because their names weren''t picked in the lottery. She said the wait was worth it for her.
"We had a great time," Cosby said. "It is a great city, the volunteers are amazing, and the fans are great. It is a fun place to do a run."
Cosby said she and her husband compete in triathlons and in marathons. She said the New York City Marathon is the second marathon she and her husband have run (the other was in Washington, D.C.).
Walter Cosby said he and his wife typically exercise together and are members of a local running club. He said one of the most enjoyable parts of the weekend was getting to spend time with his son, Nate, who lives in Manhattan. He said Nate and his fiancee were among the thousands and thousands of people on the sidelines who were cheering the runners on.
"It is one on the bucket list to check off," Cosby said in reference to a list of things people would like to do before they die. "It is truly an all-day event. You catch a bus to Staten Island early in the morning and they you have to wait around for several hours so they can get all of those people out there. You run all around the city and you end up back at Central Park. People are everywhere for 26 miles. It is amazing."
Walter said he and his wife had planned to run the race together, but he said he started to cramp 14 or 15 miles in and had to drop back. He said he spent the rest of the race walking and running when he could.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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