I was commissioned by the New York Road Runners to photograph the route of the 2004 ING New York City Marathon on the night before the race. From sundown Saturday night, November 6, until sunrise at 6:32 AM on Sunday, I shot the 26.1 miles of the marathon, following it through each of the city’s five boroughs — Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, and back to Manhattan. The neighborhoods the race goes through are a cross section of the city’s sociology; some like Harlem are well known, others like Sunset Park are rarely photographed. On the day of the race there are 36,000 runners, 12,000 volunteers, thousands of city police, firefighters, EMS and sanitation personnel, and 2 1/2 million spectators involved — but on race night the streets are quiet. Until the runners arrive, Fort Wadsworth, the staging area adjacent to the starting line on Staten Island, is a spectral village of empty white tents. The borough streets are clean, the portable johns neatly arrayed, but nothing is going on in the wee hours of the morning. The finish line in Central Park waits for a winner. I tried to capture the sense of anticipation, the field of combat before the battle is joined.
Once the race started, there were plenty of other photographers to shoot the action.