Are You Running?

Friday, October 30, 2009

We’re taking calls and comments from listeners who are running the marathon on November 1st about your motivations for running. Leave a comment below to tell us why you’re running this year. Call us at at 212-433-9692 to tell us why you are running, how you've prepared, and what the marathon experience is like.

Comments [42]

Vincent "Mzungu Lightning" Martinelli from NYC

oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I decided to run to impress a girl......she's on a bus coming from Boston to see me know....she's running too..

Oct. 30 2009 02:42 PM
Vincent "Mzungu Lightning" Martinelli from NYC

I was so honored to have been accepted to run on team UNICEF and have so far raised $4200 towards my goal. I think about all the kids who die unnecessarily every day, simply because they lack some basic needs, that together we can supply, simple things we easily take for granted. Everyday 24,000 kids die of preventable causes, until recently it was 25,000, so it's working, join me. I would like to hit $5500 or more, so if you are interested in supporting me, please visit my donation page at

Thanks so much, Vincent "Mzungu Lightning" Martinelli

Oct. 30 2009 02:26 PM
Vincent "Mzungu Lightning" Martinelli from NYC

This is Vincent "Mzungu Lightning" Martinelli, in the flesh. I figured I aught to weigh in and clarify.......

First, thanks to Caroline Russo for mentioning me on the air. A Mzungu is simply a white person, now in parts of Africa, they even refer to light skinned black people as Mzungu's, or Wazungu, if it is plural. It is not a derogatory term, although it does get a little old after the 10,000th time you've heard, I have name people. And lightning, is, I thought obviously, meant to imply fast. Put 'em together and you have one fast white boy.......

I was so happy to be training for the marathon in Africa, running through the hills and forest of Rwanda, inevitably picking up a running buddy or twenty along the way, was always amazing, they refereed to it as, giving me support. My training took me to the summit of Kilimanjaro and the streets of Zanzibar. I am also so glad to have had the opportunity to do the community development work I was doing and look forward to continuing, and even more grateful to have been able to train in such picturesque conditions. The elevation loss and gain and simply the altitude of my training have hopefully given me an edge, those hills NEVER got any easier. It really gives you pause when you think about the loads the people living within those places have to carry on their heads over great distances, inspiring.

Oct. 30 2009 02:25 PM
Gerry Mortensen from Woodside, NY

Not running this year but I ran the NYC Marathon 18 times. It is a 26 mile parade through the greatest city in the world. Spectators and runners share in the joy of the event. To illustrate, my first NYC run was in 1979. Ironically my bib number was also 1979. I was 24 then, white male, nearing the 22 mile point by Marcus Garvey Park. I was tired, walking by myself, when a young black girl yells out "Come on 1979, this is YOUR year!" I immediately smiled and started jogging again. I finished in 2 hours and fifty minutes and I'll never forget that unique encouragement from a complete stranger. To me, that says it all about the NYC Marathon.

Oct. 30 2009 02:17 PM
Scott Kennedy from Manhattan

I am running because I have to run. November 1 is the day three-years ago that I lost my 5-year old son to pediatric cancer.

My son Hazen was a runner all of his brief-life, he ran two straight miles in Central Park at age two and won a four-mile race there at age 5 against healthy kids his own age even with cancer.

"Dad, when I get old enough, I want to run in the marathon with you". He will be running with me this year in this great event every year for the rest of my life.

This year is truly special because of the Nov 1 date and the fact that I just had surgery to remove cancer (prostate) myself just 2 1/2 weeks ago.

I am also supporting pediatric cancer research at

Oct. 30 2009 01:27 PM
Mickey from Harlem

I live right on the Marathon Route and every year, being Canadian, I hang up a great big flag and put my speakers on my windowsill and blast Neil Young. I get a kick out of the runner's faces when they see the flag and hear some crazy lady yelling "Run Canada!" I imagine runners going home to Edmonton, Flin Flon or Soo Ste Marie and telling their friends that when they were running through Harlem they saw a Canadian flag and could hear Neil Young singing Rockin' In The Free World!

Oct. 30 2009 12:55 PM
David Mintz from South Orange, NJ

@Phil from Astoria: I ran my 1st marathon in Philly last year (at age 50). Train seriously for it and manage your pace wisely, and you will complete it, and you will love it. The Wall is largely a myth if you are prepared and don't do anything stupid.

Oct. 30 2009 12:39 PM
Phil Rowan from Astoria, NY

The more I hear listeners talking about the ING marathon, the more I wish I'd been picked in the late lottery.. I was, however, able to sign up for the Philadelphia Marathon before it sold out. I've done 3 1/2 marathons and a 10K since I was bit by the running bug back in May. I'm very much looking forward to the Philly Marathon.. it was there that about 2 1/2 years ago I suffered a nasty little TBI. I'm sure it'll be an out of body experience.. kind of how I felt after I knocked off 18 miles a few weeks back. Good luck to all doing the NYC marathon, and have fun!

Oct. 30 2009 12:33 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Lauren suggested that Mzungu is derogatory. I'm not sure if that's necessarily true depending on the context. Does any out there know? Can any native Swahili speakers help us out?

Oct. 30 2009 12:32 PM
robbie from Washington Heights

My friend, Scott Kennedy is running his fifth consecutive marathon this year. He is doing it to raise money for his charity, http// and to honor the memory of his young son, Hazen, who he lost to cancer three years ago.

This year is special for two reasons:

1) The race day, Nov. 1 is the same day Hazen passed away.

2) Scott is recovering from prostate cancer surgery that occurred 17 days ago. Doctors say NO, he says YES.


Oct. 30 2009 12:32 PM
Kirsy from LES

Greetings Leonard: Big fan of your show.

I will be volunteering at mile 25th this sunday and want to show extra support to one of the runners Alan Araujo.

Can the other runners please give ideas what would be the one thing they would want to see in a banner other than "run Alan run" ?
Thank you,

Oct. 30 2009 12:29 PM
Kirsy from LES

Greetings Leonard: Big fan of your show.

I will be volunteering at mile 25th this sunday and want to show extra support to one of the runners Alan Araujo.

Can the other runners please give ideas what would be the one thing they would want to see in a banner other than "run Alan run" ?
Thank you,

Oct. 30 2009 12:29 PM
Charles Lukoba from Newark, NJ

The link in youtube is

Oct. 30 2009 12:28 PM
Lauren from Brooklyn

For the woman who called in about her friend Vincent who is training in Ruwanda. The name the locals are calling him "Muzungu" does not mean lighting, it means white foreigner. And it's not a complementary name. I traveled in Ruwanda as well, not running, and that was what I was called.

Oct. 30 2009 12:26 PM
Charles Lukoba from Newark, NJ

"Mzungu" as mentioned by the listener means a white person the direct translation is witty.
So when such youtube look at Mzungu. Thank him for me for running for Rwanda charity.

Oct. 30 2009 12:25 PM
Charles Lukoba from Newark, NJ

"Mzungu" as mentioned by the listener means a white person the direct translation is witty.
So when such youtube look at Mzungu. Thank him for me for running for Rwanda charity.

Oct. 30 2009 12:25 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Also, Muzungu literally means someone who goes around. It's unclear if it connotes something like traveler, or someone who runs around like a chicken without a head.

Oct. 30 2009 12:25 PM
Saskia de Vries from Park Slope

In response to your last caller:
Mzungu in Swahili does not mean lighting as far as I know. When I was in Africa several years ago volunteering in Kakamega Kenya all the kids would yell "MZUNGU" as I walked by. It actually means "white person"!!!!

Mzungu Saskia

Oct. 30 2009 12:23 PM
John Weber from Jersey Shore

I think you have this segment in the wrong place. "Please Explain" why anyone would want to do this to themselves. Please explain it to all of us non-runners! : )

Oct. 30 2009 12:22 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Who told him 'Muzungu' means lightening? It means white boy or white man. I've done malaria research in Tanzania and I've heard this word many times. Unfortunately, malaria research and/or malaria researchers could never be confused with lightening.

Oct. 30 2009 12:22 PM

YouTube - The Mzungu Lightning NYC Marathon Training Video

Oct. 30 2009 12:21 PM
Lou from Yonkers

I am running because everyone says that Ny is the best marathon in the planet. Not sure how we can judge it but I think the NY crowds will make it happen. IT is my first marathon. My wife and I are running it. She is faster but she promises she will bake me a carrot cake if I make it under 4:30. She is a great baker. That is my motivation in the painful late miles.

Oct. 30 2009 12:19 PM
Zahid from Brooklyn

Leonard do you have any future plans of running a nyc marathon or did the thought ever crossed your mind?

Oct. 30 2009 12:19 PM
Ken from Soho


Oct. 30 2009 12:13 PM
David Mintz from South Orange, NJ

The ego gratification of saying "I ran a marathon" is certainly part of my motivation for running on Sunday. And many of us runners are drawn to the rhythm and discipline of those months of training.

But I also take something of Zen Buddhist view of distance running. People are seekers: they explore and try to answer the large questions about the meaning of it all. Zen practitioners believe that all the wisdom you need is already within you, not anywhere else. But in order to see this you have to clear away the mental clutter, and that takes practice. Hence the practice of stilling the mind through meditation.

On its face, the practice of running would seem to lie at the other end of the spectrum from meditation: extreme activity versus extreme stasis. But when you get up around the 20 mile mark, the chatter subsides, the clutter falls away, and you get closer to seeing things as they really are. It's all about feet and ground, inhaling and exhaling.

Oct. 30 2009 10:12 AM
Anne Katzenbach from Upper West Side

I am running this year as a gift to myself for turning 50. (Just thee weeks ago). It will be my sixth marathon, third one in NYC. The whole process, raising donations for my sponsor, training, bragging, has proven to be exactly the diversion I needed.

Anne (who's not getting older, just moving up in age groups)

Oct. 29 2009 12:41 PM
Erik Van Loon from the Netherlands

I ran the Marathon in 2005 and 2006 and in both years I also revealed an 33 x 20 feet selfportrait along the course of the New York City Marathon in order to get it broadcasted for 6-7 seconds into the homes of 260 million people in 120 countries.

This year I will reveal I Will Win 5 - The History ( and I will give 400 red tulips away to ask attention for:
- 400 years of enduring friendship between the Netherlands and New York
- my fifth I Will Win selfportrait I Will Win 5 - The History.

I don't know if you like this story about a dutch artist who come year in year out to realize his american dream as I will stop with the I Will Win series when I succeeded to get my latest I Will Win selfportrait for 6-7 seconds on tv.

Erik Van Loon

Oct. 29 2009 12:18 PM
Rob Walsh from Inwood

I'm actually not technically running the whole marathon this year. I'm running the last stretch as a 'Mule' for a friend who's trying to qualify for her third Boston Marathon. Carrying her Gatorade, Gu and doing whatever she'll need when she hits the Wall.
My friend, Eileen Buck is racing her 4th NYC Marathon and this will be 4th time that I will be pacing her for the last 8-10 miles.
Before joining her at mile 17, I will be with a group of her friends and family as we try to catch her in four borroughs! We've gotten pretty aggressive with our schedule; pre planning subway schedules, foam fingers, balloons AND brightly colored t shirts. All things that make it eaiser for her to spot us as she runs. (because as spectators know, it's harder to find the runner than it is for them to spot you)
We've dubbed ourselves 'Competitive Spectaters' and should probably set up a booth at the Expo to share our ideas!!

I've run New York three times and Marine Corps twice. But New York will always be my favorite. You can't beat the people that give so much love to you as you run through all the boroughs. They really make you feel like you're a Rock Star!!

Oct. 28 2009 04:49 PM
marc from Brooklyn

I've have been a fan of the marathon and have cheered for the runners for years. About 5 years ago my partner got into running and I slowly followed suit, running the New York Road Runner races with her in central park. These races have an amazing sense of community and you just feel good being a part of it. The marathon seems like it will be like that magnified a thousand times. So I will be running my first marathon this year. Wish me luck.

Oct. 28 2009 12:31 PM
Ciara from Brooklyn

This year is my 6th NYC Marathon in a row. I'm not in the shape I'd like to be for 26.2 miles, but I need the marathon this year more than ever - it's a constant, a predictable quantity in a very uncertain year as I confront the challenges of unemployment and getting my own business started.

But above all, I couldn't resist the rare opportunity to run the marathon on my birthday! :)

twitter #ciararunsnyc

Oct. 28 2009 12:26 PM
Kieran O'Mahony from NYC

I ran in school but was never very good at it. I started back running when I moved to NYC in 2006 and ran NYC gaining entry through the lottery in 2007. Running has brought me sanity, friendship and happiness in a city that can be very lonely. NYC this year will be my eight marathon since 2007. good luck to all out there giving it their all on Sunday

Oct. 27 2009 11:21 PM
Michael Grosberg from Brooklyn

My love, my girlfriend, my life-partner, Rebecca Tessler passed away in February of this past year from leukemia. She was such a strong spirit, always challenging herself, and even when she was sick, able to grow and inspire others. She loved watching the marathon, moved by the runner's efforts to overcome their struggles. I knew I needed to throw myself into something, anything that I could do with Rebecca in mind, and something that she would love. I've trained with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training group in Prospect Park for five months now and from a beginning of two slow miles now have a reasonable chance of finishing 26. When I'm struggling of course I think of her and imagine her with me knowing she would want me to do this, that she's still inspiring me.

Oct. 27 2009 05:20 PM
Rich Campbell from Manhattan

Hi Leonard,
It's a habit! I've run the last 10 straight NYC marathons, so I've got a streak going that I don't want to break! It is one of the best days of the year to be a New Yorker. Running the 5 boroughs is a thrill; the great people who come out to cheer the runners on are so full of energy that you ride a wave of goodwill for 26.2 miles. Rich

Oct. 27 2009 12:59 PM
Michael from Upper West Side

I ran my first marathon last year because it was the year I turned 50. I had promised myself to run 1 (and only 1!) marathon in my life and I wanted it to be the one with the most significance for me- the NYC Marathon because this is my home town. My time was terrible but I finished and I finished running. Five months later I was diagnosed with significant coronary artery disease and required 4 stents to open my heart arteries. My doctor said I was the person who was going to drop dead one day while running and no one would understand why. So... I'm running again this year. For me, now, running the marathon has special significance as an affirmation of life, it's fragility and it's appreciation.

Oct. 27 2009 12:36 PM
Melinda Ehrlich from East Norwich,-Oyster Bay, NY

This will be my 15th marathon. My first one was the 1989 NYC Marathon- 20 years ago. I've run NYC 10 times, Boston, Philadelphia, Mardi Gras (New Orleans) and the Long island Marathon, but NYC is the most exciting.I've just turned 60 and decided, why not celebrate my 60th b'day with my 15th marathon? I am running as a member of Fred's Team and have raised over $3000 this year to help fight pediatric cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.Look for me in orange and blue with a 15/60 on my orange singlet!
Melinda Ehrlich

Oct. 27 2009 11:27 AM
Danielle from Brooklyn- Mile 9

I'm not running the marathon, but this will be the 6th year my friends and i are having a stoop party to cheer on the runners. We've built quite a collection of cheerleading skirts and pompoms. We also bring the kitchen outside with a waffle maker and an electric griddle.

Cheering on the runners makes Marathon sunday my favorite day of the year. It's so delightful to cheer on all these strangers and see the boost they get hearing their name. I encourage all runners to write their names on their shirts so that we can cheer for them by name.

Oct. 27 2009 11:06 AM
Pavel Gurvich from Norwalk, CT

My doctor told me after my physical that I have some fluid in my right lung 14 years ago. I went to the library and checked in medical encyclopedia and other book and found out that it does not mean anything good. I decided that it is my time. Week or two later I dreamed and in my dream I was sitting and talking with very old man. I asked him at the end - "How old are you?". "One hundred seventeen" - he answered. I woke up here and realized that his face was mine only very wrinkled.
That is when I decided if I will live that long I want two things: first, I want to have my barmitzva (than I never had back in USSR) and second, I want to run NYC marathon.
Next year (1996) I had both. I ran 1997 as well. But after that I applied for it and was rejected. I got admission to it this year. I am in very good health. My lungs are clear and I think it will be my last marathon. I have three grandkids now and I hope they will be happy to see me complete it.

Oct. 27 2009 10:08 AM
robert from Washington Heights

At this point the reason is habit—and to avoid the depression I’d likely experience if I didn’t run, which I fear far more than any pounding I’ll be taking Sunday. I used to run for middle-aged glory – I have been listed among the top 100 US finishers (a mere five years ago at age 47) and been close enough to the front that the stream of runners was thin enough I could at least pretend all that cheering was for me. But I’ve slowed down, not that I train less. So now I really run as a valentine to New York and to meditate on my life here – at mile six, for instance, I get weepy and blow a kiss to my dad, a permanent Greenwood Cemetery resident. I also pass near where I grew up in downtown Brooklyn, can spot my first apartment in Williamsburg. Sort of ties my life up in a bow – if I drop dead at the end, which at times seems plausible, I’ll drop dead happy. And New Yorkers really shine, both spectators and volunteers—you come away loving them all. So pretty much the whole thing reduces me to tears in a good way—I’ll hop on the A train home very tired but very happy.

Oct. 26 2009 04:22 PM
Rick from Manhattan

Leonard, do you remember the days after 9/11 when strangers were friends? When shared loss spawned a sense of community and recognition of what truly matters in life? That feeling returns once a year, when for each of us running the streets of New York dozens more reach out with outstretched arms, words of encouragement, refreshments, smiles, and laughter. Early in my second New York Marathon it dawned on me that no one running this race could be suicidal. The day is a celebration of life and the human spirit infinitely more visceral than the most evocative eulogy could aspire to be. Any marathon is about the training and reaching a goal, but New York is distinguished by the remarkable give and take with those who want to share our triumph.

We're not professionals. We look like the spectators, we talk like them, we are them. And they, us. It's a vivid teachable, literally touchable lesson in what all of us can achieve.

After I finish, I walk to Central Park's East Drive and return the favor, clapping home those who have taken longer. Some have disabilities, many are walking or shuffling, and a good number are drawing on faded reserves. But they're my true heroes, because they inspire through their perseverance. When I walk home wrapped in Mylar, the medal around my neck, I'll invariably be congratulated several times a block by others under the influence of the day's endorphins.

It's a day of possibility, Leonard, an ever so brief window on what can be achieved when people pull together and care about each other. The spectators -- not the running -- make New York so special. While those few hours are too intense and fleeting to absorb as we run, we never forget their good will. That's the memory I savor, the reason I run New York.

Oct. 23 2009 07:32 PM
audrey from manhattan

I ran my first marathon in 1986 because it gave a purpose to my moring lap around the park. As if physical fitness wasn't enough of a goal.But after a few years of working up to a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, it was time to train for my personal world series. I've run many since then, though this will be my first marathon in 7 years.

The race is a 26.2 mile buffet, folks offering food and drink every few blocks. My first humbling experience is when the winner of the race is announced, and I've barely made it to the 13 mile mark. Many humbling experiences to follow.

Now I'm 50, a lot slower, and I train with an ipod instead of a walkman. But I think the experience will be the same. Excitement a week before the race, anxiety hours before the start, exhilaration for the first 13.1 miles, some fatigue through mile 16, and sheer exhaustion as I head towards the finish line. I promise never to put myself through that again. But all is forgiven after the race. I remember it as a euphoric, joyful experience and I start training again for next year's marathon.

Oct. 23 2009 03:59 PM
Laurie Murphy from Newark, NJ

I am running my 5th NYC marathon and I knew right away who I was dedicating it to. My brother Mark, the bravest person I know. He voluntarily walked himself into a hospital a year and a half ago. There he was diagnosed with psychosis. All three males on my moms side have been diagnosed including our only first cousin who was diagnosed shortly after my brother. I think my brother had been fighting this since 1991. I have my brother back laughing and singing and am so grateful. I also dedicate my run to myself. Appropriately so, as I have always been so close to my brother for so many reasons. I ended a 16 year relationship last Dec. The hardest decision I have ever made but also the most rewarding one. I love myself for the first time in my life. Soul searching lead me to that, my soul. I walk around smiling now and also started running again. I had stopped for four years when I lost myself. There have also been other stories on the way to this marathon. In June I broke my pinky toe and the next weekend I was hit by an SUV carrying my groceries home. All moments that awoke me even more to who I am becoming. I have dedicated each one to someone important. A friend's father passed away as I stayed at her apartment in NYC for the 2004 marathon. I also ran one for Fred's Team. I decided dedicating it to myself wasn't selfish at all but more of a healing for myself. I am so grateful for my opportunity to run my 5th NYC marathon. The most moving event in the world. 42,000 stories running side by side through the streets of NY. This will be the sweetest one yet.

Oct. 23 2009 12:40 PM
Emily A from Harlem, NY

My dad's last visit to NYC happened to be during the 05 marathon. He was too sick from chemo to leave my apartment, so we watched coverage on TV. By the time the 06 marathon came, he had passed, and on race day I thought of how he'd been with me the previous year. I decided I'd run in 07 in his memory and honor. I did, with Fred's Team (GREAT group!!), raising money to cure the cancer that killed him. I wasn't a runner when I started, at all. But running was his gift to me, and this year I line up for my 5th marathon. My mom was an avid cyclist, who now must use a walker, so I also run in order to be grateful for my own abilities. I run BECAUSE I CAN. On tough runs, I think "There will come a day that I cannot do this anymore. Today is not that day." I'm using this race to fundraise for research that will help my mom.

Oct. 23 2009 12:08 PM

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