NYRR History

 
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New York Road Runners has a rich history. Over the past 60 years, we've grown from a local running club to become the world' s premier community running organization with a mission to help and inspire people through running.



1958

  • NYRR is founded as the Road Runners Club - New York Association with about 40 members. The founder of the Road Runners Club of America, H. Browning Ross, encourages the group, which meets at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.
  • The club is led by 1952 African American Olympian Ted Corbitt, who opens the club to all races, genders, and running speeds.
  • Throughout the 1960s and early 70s, under six different presidents, NYRR remains a tight band of committed runners, with about 250 members.

1970

  • Spearheaded by Fred Lebow and NYRR president Vince Chiappetta, the first New York City Marathon takes place in Central Park, with 127 entrants, 55 finishers, and a $1 entry fee.      

1972

  • New York City Marathon co-founder Fred Lebow takes over as president of NYRR and helps lead the "running boom" that is sweeping the country.
  • NYRR stages the Crazylegs Mini Marathon (now the NYRR New York Mini 10K), the first all-women road race. 

1976

  • NYRR, inspired by Fred Lebow's vision, takes the New York City Marathon out of Central Park and into the strees of the city's five boroughs with a field of 2,090 runners.
  • Over the next five years, NYRR launches the 5th Avenue Mile, the Empire State Building Run-Up, and the Midnight Run.

1978

  • Fred Lebow hires high school science teacher Allan Steinfeld to oversee the technical and operations aspects of NYRR events.

1980s

  • NYRR recruits some of the world’s best athletes to headline races, including Grete Waitz, who eventually goes on to win the New York City Marathon nine times.
  • In 1981, NYRR purchases a townhouse on the Upper East Side to house its "International Running Center."
  • NYRR races are among the first to offer prize money.     
  • By the end of the decade, membership soars to nearly 30,000.     

1990

  • Fred Lebow is diagnosed with brain cancer, to the heartbreak of the organization. Lebow inspires cancer patients worldwide by running during his months of chemotherapy.

1992

  • With his cancer in remission, Fred Lebow poignantly completes the 1992 New York City Marathon in 5:32:34, accompanied by Grete Waitz.

1994

  • On October 9, just four weeks before the 25th New York City Marathon, Lebow sadly loses his battle with cancer.
  • Allan Steinfeld takes over as NYRR CEO and New York City Marathon race director.

1998

  • Mary Wittenberg, an attorney and the winner of the 1987 Marine Corps Marathon, is hired as NYRR's first director of administration. Wittenberg oversees NYRR's business, administration, and operations.

1999

  • New York Road Runners Foundation launches to give back to the community; the focus is on youth due to the lack of middle school sports and P.E. programs in NYC schools. The first school was in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and then by the end of 1999 10 NYC schools were enrolled.

2001

  • NYRR, in a demonstration of the power of running to help heal a shattered city, stages the New York City Marathon less than two months after the September 11 attacks.

2003

  • NYRR signs a multi-year deal with financial services company ING as the first title sponsor of the New York City Marathon. 
  • NYRR continues to grow—membership reaches 40,000—and to extend its influence on a local, national, and international scale.
 

2005

  • Mary Wittenberg is named Allan Steinfeld's successor as president and CEO of NYRR and race director of the New York City Marathon. The first woman to hold these positions, she oversees NYRR's 160 full-time employees.

2006

  • The New York City Marathon joins four other leading marathons—Berlin, Boston, Chicago, and London—to form the World Marathon Majors, a series showcasing the sport’s top athletes. (The Tokyo Marathon joins the series in 2013, and Abbott becomes the title sponsor in 2014.)
  • NYRR hosts the USA Cross Country Championships in the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park.
  • NYRR inaugurates the NYC Half, which starts in Central Park, runs through Times Square, and finishes in Lower Manhattan. The inaugural race has some 10,000 finishers.

2007

  • NYRR hosts the U.S. Olympic Trials Men's Marathon, the selection race for the 2008 Beijing Games. Ryan Hall breaks the U.S. Olympic Trials record with his 2:09:03 marathon finish time on a course in Central Park.

2008

  • World record-holder Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain wins her third New York City Marathon in as many tries.

2009

  • The 40th running of the New York City Marathon sets an all-time marathon finisher record at 43,660 runners. 
  • Meb Keflezighi of Mammoth Lakes, CA, takes first place in the New York City Marathon and is the first American to win the race in the 27 years since Alberto Salazar won his third title in 1982.
  • NYRR enters the social media realm with an array of Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

2010

  • A full collection of free online resources developed by NYRR coaches and exercise physiologists named Running Start launches to reach a broader audience beyond those served through our in-school program in a continued effort to get more kids moving everywhere.

    The resources later are recognized by the Parent's Choice Awards, the Webby Awards, and the Summit International Awards amongst others.

2010

  • NYRR and NYC Parks & Recreation co-sponsor the four-mile Run for Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake there. The event raises more than $430,000 for New York's Haiti Relief Fund.
  • NYRR launches Running Start, a free collection of online fitness videos developed by NYRR, expert youth coaches, and exercise physiologists to teach youth the fundamentals of running through age-appropriate games, activities, and drills.

2011

  • NYRR introduces its Virtual Training program, a revolutionary, personalized online plan with e-coaching from NYRR’s expert staff.
  • The New York City Marathon has 47,340 finishers, setting a new record.

2012

  • NYRR signs an historic five-year deal with ESPN/ABC7 for a comprehensive year-round national and local television package, the cornerstone of which is the New York City Marathon. (In 2013, the marathon is televised nationally for the first time in almost 20 years.)
  • The New York City Marathon is canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Many runners assist with recovery efforts in hard-hit areas, and NYRR and its partners donate funds and supplies to support recovery and relief.

2013

  • NYRR creates and puts on Staten Island Day in conjunction with the NYRR Staten Island Half, raising $100,000 for Sandy relief.
  • The Brooklyn Half has a record field of 20,000 runners, about 7,000 more than ever before in its 33-year history.
  • In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, NYRR donates $146,000 to The One Fund Boston, formed to assist victims and families, and partners with the NYPD, other law enforcement, and security firms to provide enhanced security at events.

2014

  • NYRR launches the Five-Borough Series to showcase its commitment to the individuals and communities in each borough: United Airlines NYC Half, Popular Brooklyn Half, NYRR Queens 10K, New Balance Bronx 10 Mile, and NYRR Staten Island Half.
  • The Brooklyn Half is the largest half-marathon in the country with 25,642 finishers.
  • In its first year with title sponsor Tata Consultancy Services, the TCS New York City Marathon has 50,530 finishers and celebrates the event’s one-millionth finisher.

2015

  • The United Airlines NYC Half has Molly Huddle as its first American winner, and the Times Square Kids’ Run brings hundreds of kids to a 1500-meter race alongside the adults through the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
  • After 17 years at NYRR, Mary Wittenberg steps down as president and CEO and TCS New York City Marathon race director. COO Michael Capiraso is promoted to NYRR president and CEO, and CPO Peter Ciaccia is promoted to NYRR president, events and TCS New York City Marathon race director.
  • NYRR launches NYRR Open Run, a community-based initiative aimed at bringing free weekly runs to local neighborhood parks in NYC; six parks are included the first year.
  • Nearly 600 kids run the final 1.8 miles of the TCS New York City Marathon course at the inaugural NYRR Youth Invitational. The event is televised on WABC-TV, Channel 7. 

2016

  • NYRR serves more than 200,000 youth nationwide through free youth running programs, events, and resources.
  • The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon breaks its own record for the largest marathon in the world, welcoming 51,394 runners to the finish line on November 6.
  • In December, NYRR opens the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub, a new community running center. The space also serves as the home of the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe donation program. For each pair of shoes purchased at the NB Run Hub, New Balance will donate a pair of shoes to NYRR's youth programs. New York Road Runners will give the shoes to a participant in the programs.

2017

  • The 2017 Brooklyn Half is the largest half-marathon in the country, with 27,440 finishers.
  • In September, NYRR launches Rising New York Road Runners, its new youth program and event platform, focusing on physical literacy and long-term athlete development. Olympian Jenny Simpson becomes the program's ambassador and special advisor. In the inaugural year, 267,000 youth across the country were served through our free program, events, and resources.
  • NYRR inaugurates the Rising New York Road Runners Wheelchair Training Program, a free, year-round program for youth ages 6–21 with physical disabilities.
  • NYRR and The Trust for Public Land partner to refurbish three NYC playgrounds as state-of-the-art green play spaces serving youth and communities.
  • At the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 5, 2017, Shalane Flanagan is the first American woman open-division champion in 40 years, crossing the finish line in 2:26:53.
  • Distance-running legend Meb Keflezighi runs his final career marathon at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, finishing 11th in 2:15:29.

2018

  • In January, NYRR launches NYRR Virtual Racing Powered by Strava, a new way to participate in the NYRR community. The initiative gives runners access to more NYRR events, provides runners with more motivation to challenge themselves, and helps runners give back to the running community—no matter where they live.
  • In March, the United Airlines NYC Half debuts a new course layout, bringing runners from Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge and through Times Square to Central Park. The race has its largest field in event history with 21,965 finishers.
  • At the 47th annual NYRR New York Mini 10K in June, Susannah Scaroni of the United States wins the event’s first-ever professional wheelchair division title in what is believed to be a world-best time of 22:48. The third annual Rising New York Road Runners race at the NYRR New York Mini 10K, a 1.2-mile event for girls ages 12-18, includes a youth wheelchair heat for the first time. 
  • The TCS New York City Marathon has 52,811 finishers, the most of any marathon in history. Daniel Romanchuk is the first American man to win the wheelchair division and the youngest-ever wheelchair division winner.

NYRR Presidents

  • Ted Corbitt, 1958-1960
  • John Conway, 1960-1964
  • Aldo Scandurra, 1964-1966
  • Nat Cirulnick, 1966-1968
  • Vince Chiappetta, 1968-1971
  • Barry Giesler, 1971-1972
  • Fred Lebow, 1972-1993
  • Allan Steinfeld, 1993-2005
  • Mary Wittenberg, 2005-2015
  • Michael Capiraso and Peter Ciaccia, 2015-2018
  • Michael Capiraso, 2018-present

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