Gordon to Race New York Again, 40 Years After Her Dad’s First NYC Marathon


I first became aware of the New York City Marathon in 1978, when my dad ran it. He was an enthusiastic participant in the “running boom” of the 1970s, and got swept up in the craze for 26.2 despite a weekly mileage that was probably about half of that.

Most runners back then had no idea what they were doing, and how could they? There was no Internet, the shoes were crap, and a subscription to Runner’s World could only take you so far. My dad was 45 and had spent most of the previous two decades behind a desk. Naturally he struggled in his first marathon—but he finished, and we still have the certificate to prove it.

Dad marathon 1978 finisher certificate.jpg

Proud of His Accomplishments

He started the 1979 race, but failed to finish—I imagine he was even more undertrained than the previous year. He gave it one more shot in 1980 and set what would be his lifetime PR of 4:30:09. I’m sorry that I never saw him run the New York City Marathon (a teenager at the time, I guess I had better things to do) but I’ll always be proud of what he accomplished, and I’m glad someone snapped a photo of him in Central Park, wearing a whole lot of cotton.

Dad 1980 NYC Marathon.jpg

Inspired by the ‘83 Marathon

In 1983, my dad and I volunteered at the marathon start, and then watched in Central Park, about a mile from the finish. The race totally captivated me—the dramatic Rod Dixon/Geoff Smith duel, followed by thousands of people running with all their hearts in the pouring rain. I applied to run, got in, and did it the following year, finishing in 3:40.

I’m grateful to my dad for dragging me along to volunteer and cheer, because the experience inspired me to pursue my own marathon dreams. At age 57, I’ve run 31 marathons, including two top-10 overall finishes in New York. My most recent New York was 2002, when I took part in the first pro women’s separate start.


Since then I’ve been on staff at New York Road Runners, working the marathon behind the scenes. But this year I’ll be running New York again! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I am hoping to beat my 1984 time, but I’m less concerned with speed and performance than with honoring my dad’s memory, raising money for NYRR Team for Kids, and celebrating this incredible event.