Before more than 50,000 adults took on the five boroughs in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, thousands of youth runners had a number of opportunities to run throughout the city during race week.
Last Saturday, kids kicked off race week a day early at the NYRR Youth Jamboree Presented by Tata Consultancy Services, where several hundred students sprinted and jumped around the Armory track in Washington Heights.
Next came the TCS Run with Champions on Thursday, where school-aged athletes raced in heats of 400-meter and 1500-meter races in Central Park. Both races started and ended at the TCS New York City Marathon finish line.
Noel Alvarez, coach of the Hostos Lincoln Academy of Science High School team in the Bronx, brought 19 athletes from NYRR’s Young Runners program to the event.
“It’s a pretty high-pressure school and we’ve had a lot of people with stress issues in school. Running is a relief from that,” he said. As Alvarez prepared to run his own 26.2-miler on Sunday, he added, “The kids inspire me and I think me running the marathon inspires them. It’s a mutual thing.”
On Sunday, kids got the day of racing started with the NYRR Youth Invitational at the TCS New York City Marathon. The 1.8-mile race in Central Park offered more than 600 students the chance to cross the Marathon finish line just hours before 52,000 adult runners would do the same.
First across the finish line was Darius Gordan, 17, running 10:21 for the win. Placing first among girls was 10-year-old Rainn Sheppard, recording a time of 11:05.
Eileen Leon, a 16-year-old racer, felt inspired by taking part in the Marathon festivities. “I am definitely going to do a marathon someday,” she said post-race. “I want to run for a charity that helps kids because I want to make a difference in children’s lives.”
Marc Galloway, a 13-year-old finisher, noted the difference that running has made in his life: “I’ve been running for three years—it’s made me a different person. Running gets me outside, like today I got up early to come here, and I was excited.” Looking toward more years of running to come, he said, “Running is always there for me.”
By Ted Doyle and Gordon Bakoulis