Among the hundreds of runners circling the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park before work this morning was Jonas Gahr Stør, the Norwegian Minister of Health and Care. But even as he did three laps of the reservoir, for a total of 4.5 miles on a lovely 37-degree, sunny winter morning, Stør had work on his mind.
Earlier this month, the Norwegian Consulate in New York City had contacted New York Road Runners to ask if the Stør, while visiting New York for discussion on public health, might be joined by a member of NYRR for a run in the park to talk about efforts to promote health and fitness as Norway faces a growing obesity rate.
So, at 7:30 this morning, Stør set out with John Honerkamp, product manager in NYRR’s Brand Marketing & Communications, at Engineers' Gate to see what they could learn from each other as they cranked out sub-eight-minute miles.
“We talked the whole way,” said Honerkamp, who competed for St. John’s University from 1993-1998, ran professionally for several years, and is training to run the Virgin London Marathon in April. “We talked about how different people have different motivations, and how to keep things simple for the people who aren’t active, just to get them to put on their shoes and get out the door.”
Accompanied by a Norwegian TV crew, the pair discussed ways to engage and train people using social media and the internet, and Stør—himself a fit, 52-year-old half-marathoner—was particularly interested in NYRR’s Half-Marathon training program as well as NYRR’s Mighty Milers and Young Runners programs.
During the run, the 37-year-old Honerkamp shared his own reason for embarking on London training: he discovered a while back that he couldn’t fit into his clothes anymore.
“We’re supposed to be practicing what we preach,” he said he told Stør.
Even as they met for the first time, the two men shared the same bond that much of NYC feels with Norway: Grete Waitz, the nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon who died of cancer in 2011. In addition to her many victories, Waitz, the first woman inducted into the NYRR Hall of Fame, was known for her involvement in both her Aktiv Against Cancer Foundation and NYRR Foundation programs.
“The first time I learned about the marathon as a young boy was by watching Grete on TV,” said Honerkamp.
“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