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Putting our best foot forward! Brooklyn cheers for Marathon runners

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Chasing their dreams: More than 50,000 runners cruised through the early miles of the marathon in Bay Ridge.
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Cheer squad: David and Emmy Gonzales trekked to Bay Ridge from Bath Beach to watch the runners.
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Cheer squad: Erica Standish, Becky Gravenstede, and Cameron Mahood trekked to the Big Apple from their native land of Rochester to watch the marathon.
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Cheer squad: Elias and Judy Elashkar and Britta Zantout cheered runners on in Bay Ridge with Swedish and American flags.
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Cheer squad: Lauren Coppotelli, Tish Leahy, and Angela Blain cheered on family member Diana Leahy, who ran to raise money for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in honor of her late brother, Robert Coppotelli.
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Good vibes: Thousands of runners cruised through the early miles of the New York City Marathon in Sunset Park.
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High five: An enthusiastic police officer helped cheer runners on around the five-mile mark in Sunset Park.

This cheer squad ran deep.

Thousands of spectators took to the streets of Brooklyn to watch more than 52,700 athletes — including this reporter — run the longest leg of the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon on Nov. 4. The 11-mile-long stretch through the County of Kings had a spirit of camaraderie that was unrivaled throughout the rest of the course, according to one spectator who made several stops along the route.

“It was incredible — Brooklyn was actually my favorite location,” said Lauren Coppotelli, who traveled from Virginia to cheer on her sister-in-law, Diana Leahy, who ran to raise money for cancer research in memory of her brother Robert Coppotelli, Lauren’s late husband. “There was a lot of energy, and the streets were packed.”

The 47th-annual footrace — which welcomes more runners than any other marathon in the world — began on bucolic Staten Island and looped through the five boroughs to end in Central Park 26.2 miles later. The Kings County leg began in Bay Ridge, after runners crossed the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and the route continued up Fourth Avenue through Sunset Park and Park Slope, snaking through Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, before runners crossed the Pulaski Bridge into the outer borough of Queens.

Many Ridgites cheered runners on in the race’s early stages, and the spectators and competitors alike delighted in the sense of community cultivated by the annual marathon, according to one long-time watcher.

“I’ve lived in Bay Ridge for decades, and it’s a great day to cheer people on,” said Britta Zantout, who stood at the race’s three-mile mark, at Fourth Avenue and 86th Street, waving American and Swedish flags. “It’s such a good day for non-partisan, good-natured spirit. It’s one moment when nobody’s thinking politics, or ill will, or anything — it’s a very spirited and uplifting event.”

A Bath Beach father-and-daughter duo also took in the view from the three-mile mark, where the dad created new memories with his tot after spending his own childhood watching the marathon’s runners dash by, he said.

“I saw many marathons growing up, and I thought it would be cool to let her see it for the first time,” David Gonzales said of his 3-year-old daughter Emmy. “She thought it was awesome.”

No less than one-million viewers lined the Staten Island–Manhattan course, according to Laura Paulus, a spokeswoman for the New York Road Runners, the organization that stages the event. And more than 10,000 volunteers handed out an estimated 1.6-million paper cups of water and Gatorade at more than 20 fluid stations along the course to help the runners reach the finish, she said.

Thousands of cops, school-safety agents, and officers with the Police Department’s bomb squad also lined the course, according to a Police Department spokesman, who said officials from the department’s Harbor Unit also patrolled the waterways during the event.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, November 6, 2018
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