NYC Marathon 2021: Runners share inspirational stories after crossing finish line

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- There's no shortage of reasons why people push themselves to run the TCS New York City Marathon. Here are just a few of the inspirational stories from those runners.

This year's marathon is symbolic of the city's perseverance and resiliency -- getting to 50 years and crossing the finish line after battling back from what wasn't possible last year.

An emotional reunion at the finish line.

First time marathon runner David Carles of West Brighton, Staten Island went right to his brother Mark, who was brought by ambulance from New York Presbyterian Hospital to savor the moment. He's battling a rare liver cancer.

"Around mile 22 I hit a wall and ... if Mark could come out here today, and what he's been through the last three years, if he can be resilient and remarkable with everything that he's been through, I have no excuse not to push through," Carles said.

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The two brothers are a year apart and say they're as close as twins. Both athletes grew up, hoping to run the TCS New York City Marathon together someday like their dad did in 1991.

But what they didn't know, was when Mark Carles was diagnosed with cancer, David Carles would run for both of them.

"He ran over to us and I gave him his medal. And I don't think we've ever shared anything that magical before," Mark Carles said.

"It means so much to him, and the roadrunners gave Mark a medal as well, which David presented to him," mother Bridget Carles said.

Lots of proud family members waited at the finish line for that congratulatory hug, even a former first family.

The feeling of triumph and teamwork was moving even for returning volunteers.

"It brought tears to my eyes, when you see the first people coming across the finish line," volunteer Jim McPherson said.

"This is my first marathon, and because of him, I'm running it," Daniel Bonilla said.

Two friends from Upper Manhattan are members of the Dyckman Run Club, which was co-founded by Elvin Adames five years ago as a way to share his passion for running with the community he loves.

"Our community is infamous for clubs and violence and a lot of negativity, so we wanted to bring something positive," Adames said.

So many communities and causes were proudly represented, and on Sunday night, the adrenaline-fueled runners continue to cross this finish line.

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The second oldest of the world's marathon majors ran its 50th edition Sunday after canceling in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The field was cut by about 40% to around 30,000 runners, with efforts made to maintain distance between competitors near the start and finish lines.

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