While it's a huge accomplishment for any runner to cross the finish line, four runners at this weekend's ING New York City Marathon had extra reason to celebrate.
Jimmy Jenson, 48, finished the race in just over eight hours — and still set a record. He's the first person with Down syndrome to complete the race.
He ran the race alongside Jennifer Davis, a friend he met 12 years ago through the Best Buuddies program, which pairs together people with and without intellectual disabilities. Neither was a runner when they met, but they have now run several races together. This was their second marathon.
Davis told TODAY that since Jenson took up running, the formerly shy man has "become so much more outgoing."
As runners passed them, Jenson cheered them on, encouraging them to keep going.
Alex and Jamie Schneider
Also triumphant on Sunday were 23-year-old nonverbal autistic twins Alex and Jamie Schneider, who raised more than that $2,500 for the Association for Science In Austism Treatment, Inc. when they crossed the finish line.
The twins began distance running as therapy when they were young.
"I'll explain to people, there's not a lot I can share with him," their dad, Allan Schneider, told ABC News, "but when we're running, it's an unspoken language. It's been wonderful."
Alex and Jamie had to overcome anxiety following the Boston Marathon bombing. Both were participants in that race. Neither were injured.
"They can’t talk it out like you or me could," Allan Schneider told the New York Times in May. "We can try telling them everything’s going to be OK, but they still don’t understand what happened. We can’t explain what a bomb is. We don’t know how they internalize all this stuff."
After Boston, the twins were encouraged to keep racing. They overcame their fears and finished the New York marathon with pride.
Alex Schneider ran with a coach and set a new personal record, finishing the race in just over 3 hours and 14 minutes. Jamie Schneider ran alongside his dad, taking breaks for water and to shake hands with people.
This weekend, blind runner Richard Bernstein, 39, completed his 18th marathon in New York City — and his first since a painful accident a year ago.
Bernstein was training for the 2012 New York City marathon last August on a pedestrian path in Central Park when a bicycle hit him from behind. He was left with a shattered hip and pelvis and suffering from chronic pain and insomnia.
A few months later, still in pain, he set a new goal for himself: to run the marathon again.
"I made the decision as things progressed to the point where I learned how to live with my new situation. I decided I can’t not do the marathon," Bernstein said. "It would be more painful to not do the marathon than to do it."
Instead of heading out on long endurance runs, Bernstein swam laps in the pool. Instead of focusing on speed, he focused on pain control.
On Sunday, he crossed the finish line almost six hours after starting the race, calling the event a personal breakthrough.
"I can't emphasize how painful this was, but by working through the horrible pain, what it allowed me to do was make my peace with God," Bernstein told Fox News. "I know it sounds crazy but that's what it was…By working through this, I’m now at peace with my new life; that's why I did it."