That time when Long Beach marked the end point of the NYC marathon [Long Beach History]

From Doug Sheer of the Long Beach Island Landmarks Association

The Long Beach Marathon

While Long Beach hosts many runs along its 2.2 mile boardwalk, there was a time when Long Beach marked the end point of a NYC marathon. In two consecutive years, 1927 and 1928, the NYC – Long Beach Marathon was one of the headline runs in the country. The star of the 1927 marathon was a Native American from the Hopi Tribe of Arizona by the name of Quanowahu along with his tribal brother Pohoquaptewa. Their local competition was the well-known runner, Albert Michelsen from Stamford, Connecticut. The marathon was held under the auspices of the Lions Club of Long Beach and the Metropolitan Association of the American Athletic Union. The course started at 59th Street and 6th Avenue at noon and crossed the Queensboro Bridge. Participants ran along Queens Boulevard through Jamaica and then along Merrick Road to Lynbrook where they headed south to Long Beach and ended at City Hall.

Though Quanowahu had come in second place in a recent Marathon in Phoenix, Arizona the conditions could not have been more different. In Arizona, participants ran across the hot desert, often dodging rattlesnakes and gila monsters along with their constant need for water. In NYC and Long Island they encountered an altitude difference of roughly 7,000 feet, the fumes of thousands of cars along with the danger of dodging traffic and the Long Island Railroad. For Quanowahu the most difficult task was running it rubber soled shoes on hard pavement, so different from the giving sands of the desert.

With 136 starters taking off from Manhattan the field started to thin out once on Long Island. While Quanowahu had yet to break a sweat because of the cool ocean breezes, Michelson however was wet from head to foot. Twelve miles from the start it was Quanowahu in the lead with Michelson second and Pohoquaptewa in third place. In Island Park, as Quanowahu crossed the LIRR tracks just ahead of a passing train, Michelson had to stop and lost about14 seconds waiting for the train to pass. As Quanowahu crossed over the LB Bridge he sprinted on to City Hall and was greeted by Mayor Dalton and 10,000 spectators. The winning time for Quanowahu was 2 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds while Michelson came in more than1minute later. Quanowahu and Pohoquaptewa recuperated in the Nassau Hotel as their feet healed from their marathon run. Long Beach also gave them a chance to view the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. The following year was the second and last NYC – Long Beach Marathon won by Joie Ray.

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