Stoney Beach's Rosenbaum fights through Army duties, balky knee to finish NYC Marathon

Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosenbaum poses with wife Amanda at the New York City Marathon.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosenbaum poses with wife Amanda at the New York City Marathon.(Photo courtesy of Joshua Rosenbaum)

Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rosenbaum was able to finish three tours of duty — one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. He was able to finish his bachelor's degree in mathematics, long delayed by military call-ups.

But the 34-year-old U.S. Army reservist found himself nearly unable to finish the New York City Marathon on Sunday.


Though his knee gave out in the 19th mile, the Stoney Beach resident wasn't ready to give up. He had the knee wrapped, and he finished his first marathon in 5 hours, 13 seconds.

"He did awesome for having a little road bump of an achy knee along the way and coming across the finish line," said Amanda Rosenbaum, Joshua's wife, who came to support him.


Despite the gusty winds Sunday, Joshua Rosenbaum said he enjoyed the marathon, which winds through the city's five boroughs. In this year's race, an announced 50,564 runners, the biggest-ever total for a marathon, crossed the finish line in an average of 4:34:45.

Even though the Butler, Penn., native had competed in races before, his previous longest was a 10K, less than a quarter of the length of a marathon. Rosenbaum said he started considering running a marathon after two close friends, Francie and John Doherty, ran the NYC Marathon a third time.

To get in, he needed the luck of the draw: Rosenbaum was chosen in the race lottery. And while he had run with his wife in past races, Amanda Rosenbaum wanted no part of the 26.2 miles.

"Whenever you run a half-marathon, they say you're half-crazy. When you run a full marathon, they call you full-crazy," she said.

Joshua Rosenbaum was on a 15-day leave from the military in April when he found out he was selected in the lottery. Days later, he returned to Afghanistan and began the 20-week training program that would prepare him for one of the most physical challenges of his life.

Four times a week, he completed tempo, interval and long runs. But his training grounds made the program more difficult than anticipated.

"The military bases in Kabul are not very large," Rosenbaum said. "Any long run was just very repetitious; it's just a bunch of laps, if you will."

The climate and terrain didn't help, either. Elevation was about 6,000 feet above sea level — significantly higher than Stoney Beach's 26 — which made for hot, dusty, windy and dry weather.

After his tour ended, he spent the program's final six weeks back home, where the climate was more hospitable and healthier nutrition and hydration habits were more possible. On days when he had longer runs — up to 20 miles — Amanda would run the final 5 with him.

Most important, though, Rosenbaum said running at home helped him see the world differently.

"You're just like, 'Look at all the buildings, the houses,' and just get that sense of, 'I'm at home,' and just get that higher appreciation of being in America," he said.

Rosenbaum's knee is healing, and he has another trip scheduled to see the doctor before he decides on his next race.


For now, Rosenbaum, who has six years of service left, just wants to spend time with his wife. Asked whether he thinks he'll be called up for another tour, Rosenbaum said, laughing: "Lord, I hope not."

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