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Utah Olympian to run NYC Marathon after race's pandemic hiatus

Jared Ward crosses the finish line and is greeted by Meb Keflezighi during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles, Feb. 13, 2016. (Brian Nicholson)



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NEW YORK — Nearly 30,000 runners will hit the streets for the New York City Marathon on Sunday. Among them is Utah Olympian Jared Ward, who finished sixth in the marathon at the Rio Games in 2016.

The NYC Marathon went virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic. Ward said having this race back on signals that the world is getting back to normal.

"To put 30,000 runners on the street in New York City, this is a big step for the world spinning the right direction post-COVID," Ward said.

The 33-year-old has run the prestigious marathon four years in a row and said the energy in the city is unlike anywhere else in the world.

"The loud roar from the crowds is deafening. Even thinking about it now — it gives me chills," he said. "You run through the five boroughs, each borough has unique challenges but there is unique crowds in each borough that carry you through those."

Ward has been in the Big Apple since Wednesday doing press conferences and gearing up to run the 26.2-mile race Sunday — a day bringing thousands of people to the city, which just 12 months earlier was the epicenter of the country's pandemic. And although the race is on this year, there will be some noticeable changes.

"We are starting a little bit earlier so that we can stagger the waves and spread people out just a little bit more. But it's still it's 30,000 people on a start line," he said.

His family, wife and five children will be cheering him on in the crowds and waiting for him at the finish line in Central Park.

For Ward, this race gets him one step closer to making Team USA again.

"All roads lead to Paris 2024 and every one of these races is an opportunity … to finish on the podium in a major marathon. In this case in a city that I love and a race that I'm excited about," he said.

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Ashley Moser

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