Proud Australian Paul Curzon not only overcame physical injuries to complete the gruelling 42.19km TCS New York City Marathon, he was bestowed the honour of carrying the Australian flag across the finish line.
Completing the race in a T-shirt emblazoned with both the Australian flag and the Australian Aboriginal flag, Curzon, a carpenter from Sydney, ran the entire race in a pair of MOJO Carbon Trunks. Talking about running in his MOJO's, Curzon says, “When running 26.2 miles, the underwear is as important as any of the clothing I wear and I need to feel as comfortable as I can.”
“I’ve been only wearing MOJOs for years, keeping up with new release designs when they come out,” says Curzon. “I’ve been wearing MOJOs now for so long that I just can’t wear anything else.” The Aussie carpenter finished this year’s marathon against all odds in just under five hours. This slightly ‘slower’ pace was in response to not wanting to overdo it. The previous year’s efforts of completing the race in just over four hours, following weeks of rehabilitation for a back injury and cortisone injections for a leg injury, had taken its toll. After being invited to spend Christmas 2014 in New York City, Curzon “fell head over heels in love” with the vibrant fast-paced city. With a passion for film and a yearning to find out more about his favoured east-coast destination, Curzon came across the 2008 documentary, Run For Your Life, retelling the story of how the late Fred Lebow created the New York City Marathon.
“It was such an inspiration of a story so I decided to apply for the NYC Marathon lottery, which is almost impossible to win,” says Curzon. “I was accepted but suffered from a severe back problem earned from a lifetime of hard physical labour at work.” Curzon relocated to Australia to be able to afford rehabilitative treatment on his back. “I had to stand most of the way on the flight home as the pain was unbearable,” he says. Curzon used numerous physiotherapy sessions and many hours of swimming to restore core muscle strength but overtraining caused an injury that required cortisone injections on his way back to New York.
“I thought I would just keep running until I couldn’t run anymore and just have fun,” says Curzon. “I ended up running the whole way in four hours and nine minutes to beat my goal time by 20 minutes. It was incredible!” One million spectators cheer runners along the route that takes in five boroughs and sees more than 50,000 complete the race every year, making it the largest marathon in the world.
Elated with the result, Curzon applied to run again this year – and to carry the flag for Australia. “I told the organisers my story about my back, my training, my love of their city and how watching the Fred Lebow documentary had changed my life,” says Curzon. “It was the greatest honour of my life, walking down the finish line carrying the Australian flag, live on television, with thousands of spectators and runners from more than 138 countries around the world – and having my mother marching with us,” he says.
Curzon says he didn’t train as much this year as he wanted to go “easier” on his body, which still had him reaching between 32km and 48km each week. Curzon used hill running to increase fitness and took his diet a lot more seriously by ditching the junk in favour of protein-building foods, with a healthy dose of carbohydrates thrown in.
All the hard work paid off when Curzon donned his patriotic shirt, put on his MOJOs and heard the starter gun on November 6. He found himself leading the pack for the first half-mile up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with 10,000 people behind him.
“I looked to left and saw the Statue of Liberty and the huge skyline of Manhattan,” says Curzon. “It was such an incredible feeling! Running back-to-back New York City Marathons has changed my life. I now believe anything is possible.”