San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Dozens of Ticos Run Marathon in New York

NEW YORK – Alexandra Goñi, 41, abusy university professor in Costa Rica,last year decided to make her dream cometrue… to run a marathon. She began a routineof getting up at 5 a.m. to train twohours a day before helping her two daughtersget ready for school, cooking breakfast,cleaning… and then spending the dayat the blackboard teaching psychology andeducation.“It’s been really hard,” she said, “butit’s worth it.”Wearing a white T-shirt, blue shorts,and a light blue cap, Goñi was one of morethan 40 Ticos who ran 26.2 miles lastweekend through the famous city of skyscrapers,yellow cabs and brownstones.She was one of about 35,000 runners fromall over the globe who participated in theNew York City Marathon Sunday.“I thought I wouldn’t make it. I did it!”she said after she crossed the finish lineamid the brown and gold leaves of CentralPark on a fresh, sunny autumn morning.While she hugged other runners, a groupof young men with a blue, red and whiteCosta Rican flag began singing the unofficialTico anthem: “Oé, oé, oé, oé, Ticos,Ticos!”Though far from winning, Goñi saidshe obtained a personal victory, becauseher goal was to finish the race. She did itin 4 hours, 4 minutes and 4 seconds. Ameaningful victory, considering the hurdlesa Costa Rican athlete must overcome:runners often train in vehicle-congestedand dangerous streets, there are almost nosponsors, and they must raise more than$1,500 to pay the entrance fee, plane tickets,hotel and food in the United States.MORE than 2 million people crowdedthe streets to cheer on the runners, whowore chips that allowed them to be trackedon the Internet as they were competing.“The organization was great! They hadmusic and volunteers who were clappingall the time,” Goñi said.She had come here from San José,where she teaches at the University of CostaRica and two private institutions.She did not begin running until lastyear. Before that, she said, she only practicedaerobics once in a while. Her fatheris Alexis Goñi, 72, a legendary soccerplayer with the Club Sport Cartaginéswho was known as “the guy who kickswith his head” because of his powerfulheaders.Her first big event as a runner was theChicago Marathon in Illinois in 2003. Butthe race she dreamed of was in New York.The day before the competition she wentto Saint Patrick’s Cathedral to pray andlight a candle.“I am doing this,” she said, “to showmy daughters, Ximena and María José,that practicing a sport is good.” Like Goñi,many Costa Ricans trained for months inParque La Sabana, the expansive recreationalpark in western San José.TO secure a spot in this race, runnershad to participate in a lottery. Accordingto the official records, 42 Costa Ricanswon spots to run the marathon, although8 of them decided not to sign up. OtherTicos also ran, having participated in thelottery using a P.O. box from a U.S. city,such as Miami, as an address. Among theTico runners were lawyers, engineers,accountants and entrepreneurs, andamong the supporters were many of theirrelatives, including pregnant womencheering on their husbands.Tico runner Oldemar Chavarría, 52, anorthopedist from San José who works atthe private Hospital Cima, said the racewas hard.“¡Juepuña, qué duro! My whole bodyhurts,” he said, adding that he traveled toNew York with his wife, daughter and sonin-law.The runners took over the streets of thefive colorful boroughs of New York City:Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, theBronx and Manhattan.THE fastest competitor on Sunday wasHendrik Ramaala, a South African who wonthe men’s category in 2 hours, 9 minutes and28 seconds. The female winner is Britishrunner Paula Radcliffe, who clocked in at 2hours, 23 minutes and 10 seconds.One of the fastest Costa Ricans wasErnesto Pineda, 48, who completed therace in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 35 seconds.“I dedicate this race to my wifeAnabella,” he said, adding emotionally,“We are separated; maybe I will never gether back.”Fighting back his tears, he concluded,“I was thinking about her the whole time:this is for her, this is for her…”

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