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Dot McMahan: Celebrating the Big 4-0 at the 40th Running of the Five Boroughs

When Dot McMahan, a top-10 finisher at two U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials, learned that the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon fell on her 40th birthday, she knew she had to take her celebration to the Big Apple. 

“It seemed perfect because it’s kind of a transition birthday,” she said. “I figured I could put a positive spin on turning 40 and make my masters debut.”

The New York City Marathon course will also be celebrating a 40-year milestone: This year marks the 40th running of all five boroughs.

In 1976, 13 days before McMahan was born, New York City Marathon co-founder and NYRR Hall of Famer Fred Lebow, along with 2,090 runners, took to the streets of the five boroughs for the first time, with Bill Rodgers and Miki Gorman taking the tape.

Throughout her lifetime, McMahan has had the New York City Marathon in the back of her mind, and now she’s ready to race the course for the first time.

“At this point in my career, I’m looking for other challenges besides running fast, so running a tough, meaty course just seems like the next logical step for me,” she said.

McMahan, who trains with U.S. Olympic marathoner Desiree Linden, one of the Grand Marshals for this year’s TCS New York City Marathon, later hinted at a hidden meaning to those aforementioned words.

While she’s shying away from using the “R-word” (retirement), she is planning to take a big step back from the running scene this winter in order to spend more quality time with her 7-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon could potentially be her last marathon as a professional athlete.

“I don’t want to say 100 percent that I’m going to retire, but I think that I’m going focus on family, and just see where running fits in,” she said. “Training for a marathon requires so much time and energy on my part that it’s getting more difficult to do that with my daughter.”

McMahan has run marathons for 10 years, starting with the 2006 Chicago Marathon, which qualified her for her first U.S. Olympic Trials. In 2013, she claimed the USA Championship in the 25K, clocking a time of 1:25:52.

In New York City, she’ll be part of a stacked U.S. women’s professional athlete field that includes 11 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials qualifiers along with Olympians Molly Huddle, Kim Conley, and Gwen Jorgensen making their 26.2-mile debuts.

McMahan’s entire family will be making the trip to New York City to watch her run, with a potential post-race jaunt to her favorite eatery–Magnolia Bakery–in store for some well-deserved birthday cake.

By Matthew Singer

GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.

TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.