1976 New York City Marathon, Bill Rodgers, and ING New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg (Courtesy of New York Road Runners) © Copyright
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Rodgers celebrates 30th anniversary of New York with a sandwich

New York, USAborough New York City Marathon in 1976 came at a opportune time for Bill Rodgers who was looking to regain his footing after a terrible Olympic marathon earlier in the year, the four-time champion recalled at a celebration of the 30th running of the citywide race on Monday (31 Oct).

"I was just an athlete who taken a beating on the most important day of my life, the Olympic Games marathon, and I was looking for redemption,” said Rodgers, who had finished 40th at the 1976 Olympic marathon in Montreal.

Rodgers and rival American Frank Shorter, who when defending his 1972 Olympic crown had won the silver medal in Montreal, were the star attractions of the first five-borough race. Rodgers, running in a pair of borrowed soccer shorts after forgetting his running shorts, took the lead at around the 18 mile mark and went on to victory in two hours and 10 minutes and 10 seconds, the world's fastest time that year.  Shorter was second in 2:13:12.

“I could feel the energy of the people of New York and I needed it,” said Rodgers, 57, the only man to win four consecutive New York City titles from 1976-79. “I love the course. I felt the energy of the people of New York and I fed off that and needed that. As an athlete you can never forget those memories.”

Rodgers was the special guest at the Carnegie Deli yesterday (31 Oct) where sandwiches were named in his honour and in honour of the late Fred Lebow, the legendary marathon race director and co-founder. The Fred Lebow Sandwich consisted of swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and spicy mustard on whole wheat bread. The Bill Rodgers Sandwich is tuna, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat bread.

This year's ING New York City Marathon takes place next Sunday 6 November 2005.