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Part of Fred’s Team

On Sunday, I ran the New York City Marathon — a special one in that this time I ran it from start to finish with my daughter, Isabelle. The evening before, we shared my pre-race ritual: watching Run for Your Life — the documentary story of New York City Marathon founder and unlikely visionary, Fred Lebow. 

The documentary looks at Lebow's life and passions from his humble beginnings as a Romanian immigrant. An avid fan of long-distance running, Fred joined the New York Road Runners Club upon moving to New York, where he saw potential few others could. Having the salesmanship and perseverance to get others to buy into his mission, he launched the city's first marathon in 1970. Less than 100 people participated in the inaugural 26.2 mile race, which initially existed as a four lap run through Central Park. But that was just the beginning.

Starting line at the first NYC Marathon, 1970

The race later expanded to include all five boroughs of New York City in 1976, and slowly become a global event — drawing runners and fans from all over the world each year. Lebow helped turn running from a solitary and eccentric pursuit into a major sport and a staple of American participatory culture.

Lebow's ability to sense and shape a new trend breathed new life into the city. In the mid-’70s, the city was suffering from a crisis of order and morale. In this setting, encouraging thousands of people to jog through all five boroughs was seen as ridiculous, even dangerous. But now, the race serves as a reassuring sign of life even in dark times for the city and the world. 

Lebow didn't run the legendary New York City Marathon he conceived for decades. He led from behind, growing the race from a niche event to a massive fall spectacle. Twenty years later, while fighting brain cancer, he finally participated in his own creation. While doctors encouraged him not to complete the full marathon, he managed to finish. 

Starting line at the NYC Marathon, 2015
Following Lebow's passing in 1994, Fred’s Team was founded in his honor to raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. Every year, thousands of participants sign up, put on their orange Fred’s Team uniforms, and take part in 5Ks, half-marathons, marathons, triathlons and climbs, raising money for the area of cancer research that means the most to them. Since its launch, Fred's Team has raised more than $87 million for 50 areas of cancer research. 

Lebow's memory lives on through Fred's Team, as does his vision for participatory sports. This year, more than 50,000 runners took part in the race, which was
widely captured as a social media phenomenon. His leadership consisted of vision, salesmanship, perseverance and community. Taking part on race day is a humbling, inspiring way to be part of Fred’s legacy. 
My daughter Isabelle and I getting prepped for the NYC Marathon start
Chris Perry 

As always, if you find this newsletter valuable I would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up by directing them here.
What We're Reading
Platform Dominance
Our Favorite Social Media Moments During the NYC Marathon
By Christa Sgobba
, Runner's World

More than 50,000 participants came out to run the New York Marathon, with more than one million fans cheering them on throughout the five boroughs, and even more glued in to coverage in the comfort of their own homes. From the early-morning bus ride for the start to the triumphant finish, fans took to the internet to document their top moments of the race. 

Content Experience
I Joined a Stationary-Biker Gang
By Amanda Mull, The Atlantic

Services like Peloton, which draw followers with the structure and group-aspirational ethos characteristic of religion, are often dismissed as cult-like. But more and more Peloton aficionados say the latest exercise craze gives them a sense of community they sorely missed.

Media Forensics
How the Internet Laughs
By Russell Goldenberg, Kishan Sheth, Caitlyn Ralph & Jan Diehm, The Pudding

Laughter is complex. In real life it can be hard to tell the real from the fake. Online, it is even harder, with fewer visual cues and a wider range of tools to express laughter. As internet language develops, new forms of laughter spread like a cold in a classroom.

Media Forensics
‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations
By Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

“Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them.

Artificial Intelligence
Emotion Recognition is China’s New Surveillance Craze
By Sue-Lin Wong and Qianer Liu, The Financial Times

Emotion recognition was the crime prevention buzz-phrase on everyone’s lips this week at China’s largest surveillance tech expo, held in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen. The technology, which is being rolled out at airports and subway stations to identify criminal suspects, is the latest development in crime prediction systems in the world’s largest surveillance market, which already relies on facial and gait recognition, eye tracking and crowd analysis.

Media Forensics
The Mainstream Media is Not Playing Games
By Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer

With its new vertical Launcher, The Washington Post is the latest big outlet to dedicate resources to covering video games in a comprehensive manner. But past efforts have failed at publications like Rolling Stone and Variety — so why is this time going to be different?

Media Forensics
Why Editorial Illustrations Look so Similar These Days
By Anne Quito, Quartzy

Technology is one reason why editorial illustrations are looking flatter, sharper and arguably more generic. It’s hard to miss the trend.

Emerging Technology
Self-Driving Scooters Are Coming
By Laura Bliss and CityLab, The Atlantic

Like some sort of catchy techno-pop mash-up, self-driving scooters are now trending in the dance halls of micro-mobility. Uber has said that it’s developing robotic versions of its dockless scooters and bikes currently operating in cities around the world. The manufacturer Segway has a three-wheeled trike that can be driven remotely. And a start-up called Shared is pursuing a self-driving prototype of a mopedlike electric conveyance.

Deep Take
Run for Your Life Full Documentary
Directed by Judd Ehrlich
Blending archival and contemporary footage with recollections from past champions, recreational participants, volunteers and local politicians, this documentary looks at the life and passion of Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon. From extremely humble beginnings — in 1970, less than 100 people participated in the inaugural 26.2 mile race through the five boroughs — the race evolves into a global happening, drawing competitors and spectators from all over the world.
Copyright © 2019 Weber Shandwick

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