Every runner has a story, but not every runner has a group of friends willing to pitch in so she can maintain a regular running routine. Lulette Infante is one of the lucky few.
Her training group of 25 women, the Salisbury Divas, shares babysitting and carpooling duties to fit running into their busy lives as moms and professionals; Infante has two kids and will finish her masters degree in Nursing Informatics next year. The team name comes from their Long Island neighborhood—Salisbury Estates—in Westbury, NY.
A few years ago, Infante wouldn’t have understood running. That was before she cheered for her friend at the 2010 More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon. Afterward, she couldn’t resist trying it. Everything came full-circle when she ran that race last year with her Diva sisters, and now they’ll do their first NYC Half together.
“This race has always been a dream of ours,” she says. “There’s nothing like running in the best city in the world.”
The race crew includes Infante’s good friends Nicole DeLeon and Nicholas Turkovich, siblings whose brother, Steven, did IRONMAN Arizona on November 18, 2012, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Last December, Steven, 44, lost his battle with brain cancer. This Sunday, the Divas will run in his honor.
DeLeon, who’s raising money for the Cancer Research Institute, says, “Trying to keep my brother’s memory alive is giving me the drive to run this race at a steady pace for cancer.”
“Nicole is the reason why there’s a Salisbury Divas club,” Infante says. “If not for her inspiration and support, I wouldn’t be running.” Fellow Divas Sharon Keeffe and Martha Bauman will be participating, too.
The team is a support group, and celebrating milestones is part of it. This year, they’re entering a new decade of running life: “Nicole’s birthday is on race day, and I’ll be turning 40 on June 4,” Infante says.
As Infante, DeLeon, Keeffe, and a few other Divas run this weekend, they’ll also be preparing for their first 26.2-mile race, the Long Island Marathon on May 4. “We strive to set a great example for our children and inspire other moms out there,” says Infante. “If we can do this, they absolutely can, too.”
If you spot a “THIS IS 40” T-shirt on race-day, cheer extra-loudly for these Divas as they move toward this finish line and many others.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg