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The best marathon in the world (Language level B2-C1)

Novembre 2015
Non è facile partecipare: bisogna avere un certo tempo di qualificazione e prenotarsi con molto anticipo. Ma la maratona di New York è un evento indimenticabile, e se non si è abbastanza in forma per correre i fatidici 42 chilometri vale comunque la pena mettersi tra il pubblico e fare il tifo. I corridori ve ne saranno grati!

di Laura Giromini | vivereny.com

File audio:

Kathy Condon
Kathy Condon

This year’s edition of the New York City Marathon was held on Sunday, November 1st. There were over 50,000 runners, as well as two million spectators. This is because New Yorkers love their Marathon. The enthusiasm is contagious and even the least athletic individuals are inspired to take part.


The race starts in stages. At 8.30 a.m. athletes with physical disabilities set off from the starting line, while the women’s race begins at 9.30, and at 9.50 it’s the turn of the men.  The NYC Marathon has certainly come a long way since the first edition in 1970, when just 127 athletes (126 men and one woman) ran round Central Park. Of these, only 55 reached the finishing line. The winner, Gary Muhrcke, a fire fighter who had been up on duty the night before, completed the course in 2 hours 31 minutes and 38 seconds (2:31:38). His prize was a recycled bowling trophy and a cheap watch. Years later he told a journalist: “The trophy is broken. The  watch, I don’t know where it is.”   


The Marathon course was extended to all five boroughs in 1976, on the occasion of the United States Bicentennial. Today the race starts on Staten Island and almost immediately the runners have to cross the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn. During the early stages they remove surplus clothing: volunteers collect some 25 tons of the stuff and donate it to charity. The runners head north through Brooklyn. After 9 miles they pass through Clinton Hill, where they are greeted by the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School Band, who play the “Rocky” theme, “Gonna Fly Now.” This is a tradition that goes back 35 years. The course continues north into Queens, and then west  across the  Queensboro Bridge, over Roosevelt Island and into Manhattan. As runner Kathy Condon explains (see interview), this is the most intriguing part of the race. By now the runners have completed just 16 of the race’s 26.2 miles. They still have to head north into the Bronx and back south through Manhattan again into Central Park. The finishing line is at the famous Tavern on the Green restaurant.  




Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

On Sunday November 1st some 50,000 people took part in the New York City Marathon. They included Kathy Condon, who manages some of the City’s hippest discos. She works at night and often goes running at 6 in the morning, when she gets home from work. We asked her where she liked to train:

Kathy Condon (Standard American accent)

Well, being that I live here in downtown Brooklyn, I actually have access to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and so my favourite places to run are running over to the Brooklyn Promenade, where you have the most beautiful view of downtown Manhattan; you can see the new Freedom Tower from there, you can see the Brooklyn Bridge, you can see the water, (the) Staten Island Ferry, you can see the Statue of Liberty. So kind of like my running back yard  is pretty like great. So I also run over the Brooklyn Bridge a few times back and forth, I run around like this beautiful park, Cadman Plaza Park. And, yeah, that’s pretty much my training ground, that and Central Park, where all the races are usually done in Central Park. So.


And what are the hardest parts of the Marathon course?

Kathy Condon

I would say the most difficult parts are Mile 16, which is you’re in Queens, and you’re going over the 59th Street Bridge, or also it’s called the Queensboro Bridge. So, basically, that’s a mile-long bridge, and there are no spectators allowed on the bridge, so once you start that bridge you are going uphill for a half-mile, straight uphill. And all you can hear is the sound of the other runners’ feet hitting the pavement, and it’s really eery and cool at the same time because you’re just like, “Wow, I can’t believe we’re all doing this!” No one’s talking, no one’s saying anything, all you can hear are the feet going up the bridge, slapping on the pavement.


But that silence doesn’t last for long:

Kathy Condon

One of the other really great things about New York City is the internationalness of the race where you’re running and you see people from all countries all over the world wearing their flags, wearing their colours, and you run behind them and they’re speaking like another language. I mean, I don’t know many languages I hear, just running the New York City Marathon. I mean, when do you do that in one day, in four hours? – ‘cause that’s my goal is four hours, I always run around a four-hour marathon – so in four hours, how many different languages and nationalities and people are you able to run and come into contact with? It’s really, really amazing.  It’s so international.


And the crowd is also pretty cosmopolitan:

Kathy Condon

You run through five boroughs of New York City and each neighbourhood and each borough is completely different and each neighbourhood has something to offer and they all come out and cheer, and you would not believe... you know, we have people cheering from… you know, in Borough Park, Brooklyn, we have Hassidic Jews cheering for us, we have, you know,  like... we have like Jamaican like areas, we have, you know, in Harlem, you  know... we have... the start of the race is Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and that is like the total Italian community. So Italian American, and so you just don’t know who... like it’s a very unifying thing, the New York City Marathon, it’s like one gigantic block party for New York City, where the entire city just comes out and has fun and cheers, and you just feel so much support. It’s amazing. 


It’s possible to enter the New York City by applying from Italy. You need to:
1. Have completed a marathon or half-marathon in the time required (this varies according to age group and gender).
2. Enrol before the middle of March. This can be done on the official website: www.tcsnycmarathon.org.
3. Find a tour operator who will take care of everything; flights, hotel and running number.


• Mary Martin and Raymond Donaldson got married while running in the 2011 edition: the wedding official ran with them. The couple completed the race in 3:54.25 and 3:54.26 respectively. They later went to Italy for their honeymoon.

• There is an age limit. It became 16  in 1981 and was later raised to 18. But before that, in 1977, 8-year-old  Wesley Paul completed the course in 3:00:37!

• The oldest lady to run in the New York City Marathon was 86-year-old Joy Johnson, who competed in the race for the 25th time in 2013. She recorded a time of 7:57:41, but sadly died in her sleep the following day.  

• In 1979 Rosie Ruiz completed the course in 2:56:29, but it was later discovered that she had cheated by using the subway! She was also disqualified from the Boston Marathon.

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Is pretty like great. È davvero eccezionale. Qui l’aggettivo great (letteralmente grande) significa “grandioso, eccezionale” ma la curiosità linguistica è l’utilizzo della parola like per dire “tipo” ecc. Kathy Condon lo dice spesso, come molti giovani americani.

You’re just like. E dici. Qui il significato della parola like è diverso. Nello slang americano I’m like, you’re like, he’s like è un modo per dire “dico, dici, dice” ecc.

Internationalness. Si trova questa parola in internet ma non sui dizionari ufficiali. Sarebbe più corretto dire international nature. Si usa il suffisso -ness per trasformare un aggettivo in un sostantivo. Ad esempio: happy diventa happiness.
Block party. Festa del quartiere. Nell’inglese americano la parola block significa isolato che, in una città come New York, è l’equivalente di un quartiere. Il nome della boy band americana New Kids on the Block significava proprio questo: i nuovi ragazzi del quartiere.