On November 6, New York Road Runners President and CEO Michael Capiraso will run his 25th consecutive New York City Marathon with a goal of raising $25,000 to support the next generation of runners.
Capiraso is part of NYRR Team for Kids, a committed group of adult runners from around the world who add meaning to their miles by raising funds to provide free or low-cost health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity.
Though he’s been crossing the New York City Marathon finish line since 1991, Capiraso still gets emotional talking about what brings him back to the course every November.
“I feel like every year is the first year. I get nervous. I get excited as can possibly be. I love how it feels being on the bridge and looking across into Manhattan and feeling all the energy,” he says. “Then there’s the journey through all of the boroughs, the challenge of the course, running it with 50,000 people plus a million more cheering you on—it’s the greatest day of the year in New York City.”
Naturally, some years hold special meaning. “I really remember 2001—standing on the bridge during the playing of the national anthem and feeling such a sense of community and pride being a part of the first big public event since 9/11,” he says.
Today, it’s Team for Kids that makes the marathon extra special for Capiraso, who’s run with the charity group for the past seven years, raising more than $50,000. “Being part of the TFK training program gives you a great sense of community, and it’s helped improve my time,” he says.
The past two years, Capiraso, a self-described middle-of-the-pack runner, has finished the race in less than four hours, clocking the exact same time—down to the second—in 2014 and 2015.
This year, he’ll chase another sub-4:00 goal alongside Mary Wittenberg, former NYRR president and CEO and race director of the New York City Marathon. On November 6, she’ll run her very first New York City Marathon, also representing Team for Kids.
“We’ve done a number of training runs together,” says Capiraso. “Mary and I have always run over the years. We run and talk, and talk and run—it’s a lot of fun. She swears she’s going to stick with me, but I think it being her first one that she’ll at some point decide that she’s going to take off and go faster.”
Come race day, Capiraso will be a quiet observer. “I try to blend in and be a runner like everyone else,” he says, “but I have a different viewpoint now—I look at the experience people are having.
“Since I started working at NYRR in 2010, I have an even greater appreciation for the passion, commitment, talent, and hard work that come from the team that puts on this amazing event under the leadership of Peter Ciaccia, NYRR’s president of events and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon,” says Capiraso.
While most runners have the luxury of crashing on the couch after a tough 26.2 miles, it’s back to work for Capiraso: “On race day, I get up early, I go to work for a few hours, I go run the marathon, then I go back to work,” he explains.
But not before checking in with his biggest cheerleaders.
“One thing about marathoning that people don’t realize is that besides the commitment it takes from yourself, it takes an enormous commitment from your family,” says Capiraso, whose wife and 12- and 9-year-old daughters support him through hours of training each year and cheer for him on the course come race day. “They’re usually right by the finish,” he says. “Because when you hit Central Park and you cross that finish line, there’s no greater thrill.”
By Hollis Templeton
GET YOUR STORIES ON. Read more inspiring stories from runners chronicling their journeys to the TCS New York City Marathon starting line.
TUNE IN. The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be televised live on Sunday, November 6, on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in the New York tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.