Personalized linen, license plates, clothing, luggage, marathon finishes. Marathon finishes? For sure, at least for the first 13,500 or so interested runners who crossed the line in last year's New York City Marathon, thanks to Manhattanite Ambrose Salmini and his company, Salmini Films, Inc.
The first 28 minutes of a half-hour documentary, 1982 New York City Marathon, made by Salmini in cooperation with the New York Road Runners Club, shows preparations for the marathon as well as highlights of the race itself—the throng along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the journey through the city streets, the triumphant finishes of Alberto Salazar and Grete Waitz. Then comes the good part, you coming up to the finish.
Three video cameras, stationed on a photo bridge 50 feet beyond the line, were fixed on the center, left and right chutes as the runners limped, staggered and exulted their way in. When Salmini receives an order for a personalized videotape, he notes the contestant's time and number and then pulls out his 12 hours of finish-line tape. Locating one runner can be time-consuming—at the peak there were 200 finishers a minute—but when that's done, Salmini merely edits about 20 seconds of that runner's finish onto a master tape of the marathon documentary. A copy is then made for the buyer. Price: reasonable, $125. The documentary alone costs $95.
Requests for personalized tapes have been received from about 200 people, including the coach of an Israeli track team (a third of the orders have come from foreign countries), who requested that the finish of each of his 15 runners be spliced in. And why not? "It's just another way to make their marathon special," says Salmini, himself a marathoner who finished in the top 20% in the 1982 Ironman Triathlon (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, in one day) in Hawaii. "After all, everyone who ran is a part of the New York City Marathon show."