The names Germán Silva and Benjamin Paredes might not mean much to you, but these two Mexican men were involved in one of the most memorable marathon finishes in history. The two runners were shoulder to shoulder until the last half mile of the New York City Marathon, but then Silva took a wrong turn, apparently killing his chances of taking first place.
The story could have been a tragic one for Silva, one of those moments that gives some people schadenfreude (deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others), but the Mexican runner showed character, perseverance, and very good training, because he turned around, caught up to his paisano, passed him, and claimed the first place prize.
“At 500 meters, I was thinking I could do it,” Silva said in the post-race interview. “All I wanted to do was catch him.”
“I was a bit confused, but when I saw that I was in a good position, I decided to push a little,” Paredes said. “When he passed me, I couldn’t push anymore.”
Silva’s comeback definitely paid off; instead of the $15,000 prize for second place, he got $20,000, a Mercedes-Benz sedan, and a bonus $15,000 for breaking the 2:12:00 record (his time was 2:11:21).
With reason, the moment was chosen by the New York Road Runners (the NYC Marathon organizers) as one of the best moments in the history of the competition.
This Sunday, more than 50,000 people are expected to run the NYC Marathon. The starting line is in Staten Island, where the runners will cross the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, pass through Queens and the Bronx, before getting to the finish line in Central Park. The annual race has been going since 1970 (with the exception of 2012 due to Hurricane Sandy), so it goes without saying that there have been – and will be – plenty of memorable moments in the race, but it’s hard to imagine something like what happened that morning in 1994.