Mendon woman recognized as first bilateral amputee NYC marathoner

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MENDON, N.Y. (WHEC) — We’ve all heard the saying in life: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

That certainly was the case for Deb Marcuccilli, 66, a Mendon resident, when she finished the 1994 New York City Marathon in 13 hours and 58 minutes. Twenty-seven years after walking the New York City Marathon on a pair of prosthetic legs, Marcuccili has been recognized by New York Road Runners as the first known bilateral amputee to complete the race.

“It was pretty difficult, but I knew once I reached the 20-mile mark that if I quit, I would come back the next year because that’s how I am,” Maruccilli said. “The last six miles were very difficult, but I finished.”

Marcuccilli’s honorable recognition journey began two years ago when she saw a Facebook post by New York Road Runner mistakenly claiming another runner as the first bilateral amputee, so she contacted the organization and made her case.

“The marathon had a cut off time and her information was recorded because she came in after that cut off time, and when this information was made available to us, we did our due diligence and we searched to see that,” said Ted Mettelus, vice president of special events and race director for the TCS New York City Marathon.

The lagging technology at the time may have not captured deb’s monumental finish in 1994, but nearly 30 years later, it is an acknowledgment Metellus says is rightfully earned and needs to be shared.

“Able-bodied or not, so many people say, ‘wow 26.2 miles is tremendous, I could never do that’ and then you hear about a story of Deb. It is so inspirational,” Mettelus said.

Earlier this month, New York Road Runners published a story about Marcucilli distinguishing her major milestone. The organization strategically chose to publish in July given that nearly three decades ago, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, making the landmark legislation a meaningful and significant movement for every man, woman and child with a disability in the U.S.

“There’s tremendous correlation between that anniversary [Americans with Disabilities Act] and a program and event that we’ve been producing for 19 years, which is the Achilles Hope and Possibility races. Celebrating and acknowledging our athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes that come out and participate in these events…this was the time to shine that light,” Mettelus said.

With one prosthetic foot in front of the other, Marcuccilli says her motivation and perseverance kept her going in 1994 until today, and she wants to share the same message to others out there.

“Nothing is impossible. It certainly helps to have family and friends to support you. Just get up, get out, and see what’s out there,” Marcuccili said.

Marcuccilli is now retired and enjoying life. She is an avid hand cycling marathoner. Back in 2016, she returned to the New York City Marathon as a hand cyclist. When asked if she plans to do another marathon downstate, she said it is definitely a consideration. This October, Marcuccilli plans to participate in the Wineglass half marathon in Corning.