Ahead of Sunday's 30th running of the New York City Marathon, race organisers on Tuesday honoured former multiple champions Bill Rodgers and Grete Waitz as the top man and woman in the race's history.
"We are emotional characters, us athletes, and this is one of the most emotional of all sports," said four-time winner Rodgers following the announcement that he had been selected in a poll of sportswriters conducted by the New York Road Runners Club.
"I have a feeling my pick was a close one. I don't think Grete's was close," Rodgers said.
His intuition was correct.
Waitz, who won in New York City nine times between 1978 and 1988, was indeed the obvious and overwhelming choice as top woman in the race's history.
The Norwegian, who dropped out in 1981 and skipped the race in 1987, set three world records in her first three victories in the race through the city's five boroughs.
Kenyan Tegla Loroupe, the 1994 and 1995 champion, finished second in the poll and Australia's Lisa Ondieki, who holds the New York City women's record of 2:24:40, was third.
Rodgers, who won four consecutive New York marathons from 1976 to 1979 - the first four years after the race course was moved out of Central Park to become a five-borough event - was a narrow choice in the men's category.
Finishing a close second was Alberto Salazar, whose three straight victories from 1980 to 1982 included a world record of 2:08:13 in 1981.
Mexico's German Silva, the 1994 and 1995 champion, and Tanzania's Juma Ikangaa, who holds the course record of 2:08:01 set in 1989, were third and fourth in the poll.
In a sentimental move, the panel selected race founder Fred Lebow's run through New York with Waitz in 1992, when he was in remission from brain cancer, as the top moment in the marathon's history.
The 30th New York City Marathon features a field of 30,000 entrants from 100 countries with defending champions John Kagwe of Kenya and Franca Fiacconi of Italy heading the men's and women's fields.