On Sunday, Nov. 7, the last runner of the 50th New York City Marathon might not have set any records, but she made an inspiring run.
Fredilyn “Fredi” Bangwa, 42, a civil engineer from Bergenfield, New Jersey, was eager to be a part of the competition. She would not let her rheumatoid arthritis stop her and completed the race without relying on others’ help.
She suffered chronic illness pain in her ankles during the Sunday race. However, she put any thoughts of giving up out of her mind.
Bangwa has run four marathons before, with an average finish time of roughly seven to eight hours. And she was not about to miss the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon.
“I earned the entry in. Considering how many people want to participate in and how many people can’t, I didn’t want to let this chance go by,” Bangwa said on Monday.
Bangwa finished at 10:54:58, while Albert Korir, 27, the first one to finish the competition clocked 2:08:22.
Even though some passers-by offered her a ride because they were concerned about her health, she refused. “I stayed the course,” she insisted.
She was not the only one struggling to finish the marathon: first-time marathoner Mario Diurno, a worker from a rehabilitation program, was near her.
“We were keeping each other motivated, especially with the course being dead. We couldn’t have finished without each other,” Bangwa recalled. “I think we’re friends for life.”
“Determined to finish” is Bangwa’s motto, which could be read on her shirt. With the support of her family and friends and overcoming all obstacles, she finished in last place with a wide and bright smile on her face.
She has already earned her entry for the next year. She believes something about it draws her back in though she considers taking a break from the race.
“I’m trying to talk myself out of it, but you never know—it’s addictive,” Bangwa said according to the New York Post.
To keep runners distanced due to the pandemic, the field was reduced by around 40%. Entrants were required to submit confirmation of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before the race day.