Meb Keflezighi will be back in New York on November 2, 2014. The 2009 New York City Marathon champion and 2014 Boston Marathon champion is running the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon as a Team for Kids Ambassador. (I’ll be covering the race once again as host of NYRR On The Run.)
You may not be able to run with him, but you can join Team for Kids, along with pro tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, the 2014 Istanbul Cup winner who ranked first worldwide in 2010 and 2011.
“Meb will highlight a world-class field of athletes competing for the marathon title, while Caroline will join thousands of runners raising critical funds for worthy charities,” said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, in a press release. “They’ll serve as inspirations to the 50,000 runners and millions of fans lining the streets of the city’s five boroughs and watching the race broadcast around the world.”
As Team for Kids Ambassadors, Keflezighi and Wozniacki will take part in Team for Kids activities during race week and help raise money for New York Road Runners’ youth running programs. Money raised by Team for Kids participants goes toward free and low-cost health and fitness programs for kids who would otherwise have limited access to regular exercise. NYRR’s programs reach more than 200,000 children each year in more than 800 schools and community centers in New York City, the U.S., and the world. More than 1,700 Team for Kids runners will raise an estimated $4.5 million this year. Keflezighi will also be raising money for his own The MEB Foundation, which promotes youth health, education and fitness.
Keflezighi, 39, has been busy since April, when he became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since Greg Meyer in 1983, an eerie repeat of his 2009 New York City Marathon victory when he became the first American to win the event since Alberto Salazar in 1982.
In June, Keflezighi paced the 1:30 half-marathon group at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, finishing in 1:27:52. Pacers typically promise to bring runners within 2 minutes of their goal time, and Meb delivered.
Later that month, he raced a pair of 10Ks—the Bellin Run in Wisconsin and Shelter Island Run in New York. At the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon in July, Keflezighi led the elite men’s field on an ElliptiGO bike.
Most recently, Competitor Group, Inc., owners of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, named Keflezighi Vice President of Running. He’ll help the company grow the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series, develop training plans and content for the Competitor brand, and participate in events and social media. Both Keflezighi and Competitor are based in San Diego.
“I am excited to share my love for our sport with so many runners around the world and help millions of runners ‘Run to Win’ – which doesn’t always mean first place,” Keflezighi said in a press release about his new role at Competitor. “It means getting the best out of yourself.”
Now, his fall marathon will once again bring him back to New York City. He’s run the event eight times in his storied career, which includes a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Marathon and 22 U.S. national championships.
“This is a very special race and city for me,” Keflezighi said in a press statement. “Additionally, I am honored to be a Team for Kids Ambassador and raise funds for the MEB Foundation.”
He told TeamUSA.org in June that he has “three to five, maybe six marathons” left in his career, with a final goal of running in the 2016 Olympic Marathon.
Professional athletes from other sports often turn to running, especially the New York City Marathon, when they retire. Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, Olympic softball player Jennie Finch, Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug, and New York Giants football player Amani Toomer come to mind.
But it’s not often that an athlete runs a marathon while still competing professionally in their first sport. Olympian Caroline Wozniacki, 24, will toe the line at the TCS New York City Marathon just two months after competing in the 2014 U.S. Open beginning August 25. The Danish player is currently ranked 13th in the world and won her 22nd Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title with the Istanbul Cup on July 20.
“I grew up in a family where sports were a huge part of our lives, and I learned from a young age the importance of being active,” Wozniacki said in a press release. “That’s why running for Team for Kids is so important to me. When I cross the finish line in Central Park, it will be one of the most rewarding days of my life, not only because of the personal accomplishment, but also because it will help thousands of kids to get healthy and fit through sports.”
Run For Charity
Keflezighi and Wozniacki are just two of 7,000 charity runners expected to bring in $25 million in donations for 300 official charities at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. Many of those groups, including Team for Kids, still have bibs available.
Charity runners agree to raise a set amount of money for participating in the race, which was the largest 26.2-mile race in history with 50,266 finishers in 2013. I ran my own first marathon, the 2007 New York City Marathon, for charity.
Donations to Team for Kids on behalf of Wozniacki’s run can be made at crowdrise.com/carolinew. Donations to Team for Kids and to The MEB Foundation on behalf of Keflezighi’s run can be made at crowdrise.com/meb.