NYC Marathon's 1st winner remains an inspiration 50 years later

80-year-old Gary Muhrcke is still running after all these years

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Sunday, November 1, 2020
1st NYC Marathon winner remains an inspiration 50 years later
If you need proof that running keeps you fit, you just need to spend a little time with one gentleman in particular.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- If you need proof that running keeps you fit, you just need to spend a little time with one gentleman in particular.

As we learned, in 1970, Gary Muhrcke crossed the finish line as the first winner of the New York City Marathon.

But this now 80-year-old isn't sitting back and resting on his laurels.

"If you don't stretch now, you just don't move at all," Muhrcke said. "We come out here, maybe once a week, we encourage each other, we stretch through our aches and pains and we leave saying, 'hey be here next week'."

Muhrcke says his life has revolved around running.

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He was an FDNY firefighter when he ran that first marathon.

In fact, he had just come off the night shift prior to winning that race. But within a few years, his passion also became his business -- selling running shoes.

Muhrcke opened "Super Runner" shops. He sold the chain a few years back but kept a store near his Long Island home. After a few false starts, he's ready to retire

"After 44 years I think it's over," Muhrcke said. "We had a great run!"

He's also a great cheerleader for the sport.

"Never too late," Muhrcke said. "Start with walking a jog a little bit but it's a very simple sport. All I can say is join the club. You'll last longer, I know. I think that's gonna happen."

Running is a family affair for the Muhrckes.

In September, Muhrcke ran an anniversary lap in Central Park with his grandson.

To mark the New York City Marathon's 50th anniversary, Gary Muhrcke, the race's first-ever winner, ran one lap of the original course in Central Park on Sunday.

For decades, his wife, Jane has been fashioning the winner's crowns right from a laurel bush in their backyard.

"If I run out of branches I can find it in a lot of other places too so it's not a problem," Jane Muhrcke said.

One of Gary Muhrcke's favorite memories was when he finished that first New York City Marathon.

Competitors were given sodas to drink.

Only problem besides the questionable nutrition, was it was before flip top cans ... and nobody had an opener!


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