Donny Lopez, the principal of P.S. 163 on West 97th Street in Manhattan, was born in Williamsburg, and although he lived there only three months, he’s always proud to say he’s from Brooklyn. On May 17, he’ll celebrate the borough with a newfound passion at the Brooklyn Half.
Lopez, 36, who lives in Washington Heights, started running a year ago, when his father convinced him to do the Portugal Day 5M on Father’s Day. Father and son finished together in 44 minutes. Lopez says he was immediately “bit by the bug,” and he’s run 14 races since then.
He’s been attempting to beat his dad, Marcelo Lopez, which is no small feat: The elder Lopez ran the 1985 New York City Marathon in 3:48. Now 60, he’s still got it; he ran 1:56:31 at the NYC Half in March.
“He’s been training really hard with my younger brother, who’s 10 years younger than me,” says Lopez, whose own training for the Brooklyn Half was temporarily derailed by an injury. He resumed running a couple of weeks ago; not surprisingly, he’s not in the shape he was for the NYC Half, where he ran 1:51. “My dad’s going to smoke me in Brooklyn,” he laughs.
Lopez was a competitive cyclist from age 14 to 26 and he earned a national title at 18. “I knew I had talent, but when I turned 22 and wasn’t professional yet, I started to think about other careers,” he says. “I pursued education.”
He’s been at P.S. 163 for two years, where he’s helped to develop the school’s Mighty Milers, NYRR’s free youth running program. “It’s a great way to engage kids in a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “It teaches them that you have to be patient, you have to set goals.”
For Lopez, this year’s Brooklyn Half is about “getting to run from the Brooklyn Museum, through Grand Army Plaza, around Prospect Park, and down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island,” he says. “What New Yorker wouldn’t love that?”