Behind The Scenes

NYC Marathon vet John Anderson set to call Sunday’s race on ESPN2

Anchor John Anderson on the SportsCenter set. (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

In 2010, SportsCenter anchor John Anderson finished the New York City Marathon in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds.

That’s not bad for a former University of Missouri high jumper tackling his first 26.2-mile race on a chronically swollen ankle. (Anderson continues to have a presence in collegiate track and field as he again will host the Bowerman Award ceremony in December.)

Two years later, Anderson is now co-host — with SC colleague Hannah Storm — of Sunday coverage of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon (9 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN3).

Shortly after covering the marathon, Anderson will fly to Germany to cover the Sears Armed Forces Classic college basketball game between Michigan State and UConn from Ramstein Air Base (Friday, Nov. 9, 5:30 p.m., ESPN).

Anderson is awed by elite runners “reeling off 26 consecutive 4:54 miles. I don’t think the person on our campus or neighborhood could run a quarter of a mile with these guys. It’s staggering, it’s absurd.”

Here, he shares his thoughts on debuting as marathon commentator.

How do you balance your SportsCenter duties with learning all you can about the Marathon?
Luckily, I don’t have to know all 47,000 runners. I spend a lot of time at home studying when I’m not at work. It’ s like anything, whether it’s a Super Bowl or the World Series or the start of the NBA season: you pore over the notes until you feel like you’ve get a handle on it.

In light of the storm damage New York City and much of the Northeast sustained, what are your thoughts on the NYC Marathon being staged as scheduled?
I’m glad I’m not in that decision making process. I know there are some folks who say we shouldn’t do the marathon. My thought is that if the Mayor [Michael Bloomberg] is comfortable with it — and he’s certainly briefed on all things related to that — I trust that decision. I do understand both sides. Some say ‘The city can survive, rally, and the event can bring the city out.’ I think that’s absolutely true. I can also see the people who say, ‘Hey, listen, my power is not on. . .’

What’s it like to run the NYC Marathon course?
The last few bridges, even if they’re not like [Mount] Everest, you’re like ‘Wow, that’s a really long incline and arc.’ The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, which is obviously the big one that’s more than a mile to run across . . . You’re all excited at that point and you’re saying to yourself, ‘Well, that wasn’t that terrible.’ By the time you get to the last two [bridges], that changes your whole outlook. At that point you’re like, ‘That looks a lot longer than the first bridge I went over, even though it’s not.’ The Queensboro Bridge is great because [afterward] there will be enough [fans] to pick you up, but it gets a little dicey at the end. That’s a long, long way to run.

Click to hear Anderson’s co-anchor for the ING NYC Marathon, Hannah Storm discuss what she thinks Sandy’s effect will be on the event.

Note: ESPN will be running public service announcements to engage their viewers in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts throughout its programming,including coverage of The New York City Marathon and Monday Night Football. For more information, click here.

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