It takes a skilled man to paint while running. Especially during the insanity that is the New York City marathon. But famed New York Times cartoonist Christoph Niemann managed to pull double duty as both marathoner and artist Sunday.
Fully engrossed in his mission to “live-draw” the marathon, Niemann didn’t break any race records (that honor was reserved for the three first place men’s runners), but he did manage to complete the race at 4:08 p.m. He may have been out of breath, but he was certainly not out of inspiration as he crossed the Central Park finish line.
(PHOTOS: The 2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Starting off with his trusty markers in hand – though he did lose a cap to his pink marker somewhere around mile 9 – Niemann chronicled his voyage to the starting line, his running troubles, and the inspirational runners he met during the race. His drawings were a mix of humor and humility: he portrayed himself as a quickly discharged battery around mile 3.2. Expectedly (and not unlike the rest of our daily tweeting) he created a number of sketches about his hunger pangs during the race. But he somehow found the juice to keep going and keep drawing, and in the last mile and a half, he broke out the paintbrushes to chronicle his final steps of the race.
Niemann, who’s a staple in the New York Times Magazine and whose pensively clever drawings appear on his Abstract Sunday blog on the Times’ site, took his craft to the Twittersphere. Tweeting under the handle @abstractsunday, he actually tweeted so much that he says Twitter stopped him midway through the race, and he was forced to set up an alternate account (an exasperated-sounding @abstractsunday1) to continue his live-sketch-tweeting of the marathon.
Truly, Niemann provided a better view of the action across the five boroughs than even the best news camera. This year’s best New York City marathon play-by-play happens to be in painting form.