The Brooklyn-based notable filmmaker, actor, producer and writer, Spike Lee, has been honored with the title of Grand Marshal of this year’s New York City Marathon. On Nov. 1, Lee will lead the marathon charge in the Grand Marshal vehicle with race director Peter Ciaccia, as well as participate in race-week activities including the marathon’s opening ceremony.
“I’m honored to represent New York City, the greatest city on Earth, at one of the world’s most recognizable sporting events,” said Lee who grew up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and whose films have become an integral part of the city’s community.
Although Lee has never ran the marathon, he professes being a longtime fan. He’s also known to be an avid New York sports fan, particularly of the Knicks and Yankees.
“When my kids were younger, on race day, we would walk outside of my 40 Acres and a Mule office right into the marathon crowd,” said Lee in a New York Road Runners press release. “There’s such a New York sense of community around the race. It’s New York City’s biggest block party.”
Lee is the first New Yorker and third Grand Marshal in the race’s 45-year history. Czech distance running legend and three-time Olympic gold medalist Emil Zatopek held the Grand Marshal title in 1979, and in 2003 record holder of nine New York City Marathon titles, Grete Waitz of Norway, became the marathon’s second Grand Marshal.
“When we looked at having a Grand Marshal for this year’s TCS New York City Marathon, we envisioned someone the world would immediately recognize as a sports enthusiast and quintessential New Yorker, and Spike was the perfect fit,” said the president and CEO of NYRR, Michael Capiraso.
In August it was announced that Lee will be the recipient of an Honorary Oscar from the Academy’s Governors Awards on Nov. 14. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’ll be the youngest recipient of the honorary Oscar and is working toward an end-of-year film release of his latest work, “Chiraq.”