Hand cyclist seeks to inspire in TCS New York City Marathon after subway accident

TCS New York City Marathon pre-race coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday on Channel 7

Josh Einiger Image
Friday, November 4, 2022
Marathon hand cyclist seeks to inspire after subway accident
Josh Einiger profiles Rome Layken who has been training for months for this year's TCS NYC Marathon in the hand cycle competition.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- For the tens of thousands participating in the marathon, the road just to the starting line is impossibly long.

"Relentless forward positive momentum. Practice makes progress," said Rome Layken, who will attempt it with no legs.

"You don't have to use legs. You don't need legs," he said.

Rome has been training for months for this year's TCS NYC Marathon in the hand cycle competition.

Only four years ago, the one-time computer programmer suffered a seizure while waiting for an L train on the way to work. He fell right into its path and his life changed in an instant.

"So I woke up in Elmhurst and they told me I didn't have legs well they didn't have to tell me I could just see it and feel it," he explained.

Rome also suffered a traumatic brain injury, but from the minute he woke up, he was determined to get up.

"I immediately thought okay now I gotta shift gears towards finding others out there who have dealt with having no legs," he said.

For Rome, who wasn't much of an athlete before, it meant borrowing a hand bike from Achilles International and building up strength.

He rode the five-borough bike tour and then last year, qualified for and completed his first New York City Marathon.

He learned a runner's high has nothing on this.

"I was bawling. I'm pedaling and it's so emotional. All of them are cheering me on," he said.

This year, with his very own hand bike, he plans to cycle for speed to qualify for the highly competitive Boston Marathon, paving the road for others like him.

"Look for someone who you know has it worse than you and then you inspire them. Because there's always somebody out there that has it worse than you. And by you doing a little better, you can inspire them," Layken said.

RELATED: More coverage of the 2022 TCS New York City Marathon


Marathon Day in New York is coming up November 6th! The TCS New York City Marathon will be broadcast to more than 530 million homes around the world, with a Spanish language broadcast being produced nationwide for the first time by ESPN.

WABC-TV and ESPN2 have been home to the award-winning broadcast of the world's largest marathon since 2013.

It will be the first Spanish-language broadcast of any marathon to air on ESPN Deportes, airing live on ESPN3 and the App from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and then will re-air on ESPN Deportes from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST.

Joining the talent team for this year's domestic broadcast will be five-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and 13-time Paralympic medalist Kurt Fearnley and running reporter Chris Chavez. Fearnley will be in the broadcast booth as a race analyst for all four professional divisions, and Chavez will make his broadcast debut on the men's moto. John Anderson, Lewis Johnson, three-time Olympian and former American record-holder Deena Kastor, Sage Steele, and Olympian Carrie Tollefson will round out the national talent.

The group will be joined by a talented array of reporters at the start, finish, along the course, and in the sky, including ABC7's Eyewitness News reporters Ryan Field, Sam Ryan, Anthony Johnson, Kemberly Richardson, Michelle Charlesworth, Lee Goldberg, Brittany Bell, and Josh Einiger.

The broadcast, produced in coordination with 45 Live and distributed by IMG, will air on ABC7/WABC-TV and ESPN2 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST. Pre-race coverage from Fort Wadsworth begins at 7:00 a.m. EST.

The race will also stream live on the ESPN App nationally from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST.

Pre-race and continuing coverage will also be streamed live nationally on ESPN3 (accessible on the ESPN App and ESPN.com) from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ESPN3 will present a view of the finish line from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.

A two-hour encore presentation of the race broadcast will air on ABC affiliates around the country from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.

The international broadcast will include three-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and four-time British Olympian Paula Radcliffe providing race analysis, alongside veteran track and field commentator Paul Swangard.

International broadcast partners secured by IMG for the race include: FloSports (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom), ESPN Brasil (Brazil), SMG Sports (China), Eurosport (Pan Europe, Pan Asia, India), L'Equipe (France), RAI (Italy), TV Asahi (Japan), Sky Mexico (Mexico), NOS (Netherlands), Sky (New Zealand), SuperSport (Sub-Saharan Africa), ESPN International (South America), and TVE and TV3 (Spain).