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Sporting celebrities Apolo Ohno and Jennie Finch both completed their first marathons on Sunday at the ING New York City Marathon and came away from the experience with new found respect for the event.
Ohno, a former Olympic speed skater, completed the 26.2 mile course in 3:25:14, achieving his goal of finishing under three and a half hours.
Ohno found the adjustment from the agility nature of his sport to the endurance aspect needed in the marathon to be the biggest challenge of training. Rather than the short ballistic workouts he did as a skater, marathon training forced the two-time Olympic gold medalist to work on his endurance.
“I spent my entire racing career molding myself to be the best short-track speed skater in the world,” Ohno said. “In the last three to six months I’ve had to totally change that mentality and training.”
Ohno cited crowd support for helping him get through the race including from those waving signs distributed by his sponsor Subway.
“When I hear people say this is the people’s race, it literally is,” said Ohno. “I was very blessed to be able to run.”
A former pro softball pitcher, Finch was part of a special promotion with her sponsor Timex. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist started last in the entire field while Timex donated $1 for every runner she passed along the way. Her final time of 4:05:26 was good enough to best over 30,000 runners, thus earning over $30,000 for New York Road Runners youth programs.
The experience was a special for Finch, one that she compares to her greatest athletic achievement.
“I’ve never compared anything to the Olympic Games, but I’d have to put [the marathon] right up there with it,” Finch said after her race. “When I think of the Olympics I think of how it unifies the world and that’s truly what the New York City Marathon does.”