Witold’s Runners: A Club Focused on Keeping Competitive for Life
Witold Bialokur is an inspiration to runners a fraction of his age: At 82, he clocks a 7:05 mile, places first in his age group each time he crosses a finish line, and maintains a busy schedule of ballroom dance lessons with his wife, Urszula.
Despite spending the first 35 years of his life in Eastern Europe, where he experienced the violence, political turmoil, and exile that came with World War II and the Cold War, Bialokur excelled at running and took an interest in coaching the sport.
He arrived in New York from Poland in the 1970s in search of opportunity—and quickly found it in a Queens-based running team. Witold’s Runners formed in 1983 and experienced a “golden age”—a boom in membership and athletic success—with Bialokur as coach.
More than 30 years later, Bialokur is still pushing a small but dedicated group of men and women through disciplined running workouts on the trails and running track in Queens’ Forest Park.
“He has a wealth of knowledge and experience, which he offers to us without any personal compensation for himself,” says team captain Alan Novie.
And the club itself is a lot like its coach: “We are a smaller ‘boutique’ club with members from many different countries and backgrounds,” explains Novie. “We compete at a high level at all races and place many times in the top ten in masters and above age-group categories.”
Novie describes the club’s members as dedicated, passionate, loyal, and fun-loving. The group regularly organizes dinners and holds a holiday party and summer picnic each year. Many members run the TCS New York City Marathon and NYRR Five-Borough Series events, and enjoy one another’s company by traveling to the races together and celebrating afterward.
The club’s open to new members. “We are looking for runners 35 and up, and our most competitive runners are masters 40+, 50+, 60+,” says Novie. Runners should have some ability and experience, and want to train to run more competitively. “We do not consider ourselves a casual club, as we do strenuous workouts on the weekends, and our training schedule for each week is mapped out by the coach,” Novie says.