Powerful Expressions of Runners Before and After the NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon Photos by Eddie Cohen

Dylan Petrich

Running a marathon is no small feat. It takes months of dedication and hours of literally pounding the pavement, often alone. In warmer weather, a runner is likely to be on the road so early that people are still heading home from the wild night before. But, for those that complete the grueling 26.2 miles, it’s hard to beat the sense of accomplishment they feel. Photographer Eddie Cohen shares a glimpse of this in his series Pain and Glory, in which he snapped pictures of NYC marathon runners before and after their race.

“I was interested in capturing that simultaneous state of exhaustion and euphoria,” Cohen tells My Modern Met in an email, “and showing what running 26.2 miles does to the physiology and psychology of a person!” His striking black and white images—the result of him sneaking into the race—feature men and women who are both tired and proud. Drenched in sweat with their hair a mess, they look as though they put their bodies through the ringer—but in the end, they get the finisher’s medal to wear around their necks and memories to last a lifetime.

While many of Cohen’s subjects look happy and relieved, others are overcome with emotion after their finish—reminding us that the distance is as much mental as it is physical. Runner Dylan Petrich had tears in his eyes after finishing the NYC marathon in an impressive three hours and 30 minutes. (The median marathon time for men is four hours and 20 minutes.) “I spotted him crying right when he finished the race,” Cohen recalls. “I ran over to give him a hug, picked him up and put him in front of the makeshift studio I created by the finish line. The expression is real.”

Photographer Eddie Cohen captured NYC Marathon runners before they started their race and after they finished.

NYC Marathon Photos by Eddie Cohen


Some fared better than others, but each looks happy to have finished.

NYC Marathon Photos by Eddie Cohen


NYC Marathon Photos by Eddie Cohen


NYC Marathon Runners Photographed by Eddie Cohen


In addition to those revealing portraits, Cohen also snapped NYC Marathon photos of finishers.

NYC Marathon Photos by Eddie Cohen

NYC Marathon Runners Photographed by Eddie Cohen

NYC Marathon Runners Photographed by Eddie Cohen

NYC Marathon Runners Photographed by Eddie Cohen

Eddie Cohen: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Eddie Cohen.

Related Articles:

Extreme Marathon Runner Adopts Stray Dog Who Ran 77 Miles Alongside Him

Boston Magazine’s Inspiring Cover: Heart Made From Marathon Runners’ Shoes

Compassionate Police Officer Helps a Struggling Runner Finish 10K Race

Before and After Shots of Joggers

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content