Pros Make Pre-Race Visit to Chinatown School
Two days before competing in the United Airlines NYC Half, a group of professional athletes made a visit to P.S. 001 in Chinatown, a Rising New York Road Runners site less than two blocks away from the Manhattan Bridge, where the pros—along with 22,500 more runners—will be racing on Sunday.
The afternoon of activities allowed students in grades 4 and 5 to interact with and learn from a group of world-class runners and wheelchair athletes. Combined with a shoe distribution for pre-K through grade 3 earlier in the morning, approximately 325 students set off with a new pair of New Balance running shoes at the end of the day, courtesy of NYRR and New Balance's 1 for You 1 for Youth program.
With previous NYC Half champions Josh George and Tatyana McFadden on hand, students had two of the best wheelchair athletes in the world ready to teach them about the sport. After the pros guided groups through the basics—how to steer, how to brake, and how to push—the students took turns trying out the racing chair for themselves.
Even Peter Ciaccia, NYRR's President, Events, and Race Director, TCS New York City Marathon got to take the chair for a spin!
Just a few feet away, Allie Kieffer and Betsy Saina spoke with students about their running history, and how they came to be friends after competing against one another in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.
After sharing how running led them to college degrees, then professional careers, Kieffer and Saina took questions from students—among them, "How far do you think you could run in an hour?" (The two training partners agreed on their answer: "Around 12 miles.")
Upstairs, in the school's gym, students were outfitted with new pairs of New Balance running shoes, as Team New Balance athletes Emily Sisson—also an NYRR Team for Kids ambassador—and Liz Costello helped hand out shoes and make sure students had the right fit.
"A lot of students in our school don't come from much, so today is huge for our school," said Matt Sutherland, the school's physical education teacher and Rising New York Road Runners site coordinator. He later explained how one fifth-grade student told him the pair of New Balances was only the second pair of new shoes he had ever received.
Once they were all laced up, students had the chance to break in their shoes with a few drills and relay races, as they were accompanied by NYRR Team for Kids ambassador Aliphine Tuliamuk, as well as fan favorite Noah Droddy.
As Droddy led the kids on the way up and Tuliamuk cheered them on, the two pros swapped positions for the way back down.
After a whirlwind session of talks, clinics, and drills, the students gathered for a photo to show off their new shoes, as their own "custom-designed" New Balance shoes hung up on the wall behind them.
On Sunday, as the pros race up Seventh Avenue through Times Square, more than 1,000 youth will be racing alongside them in the Rising New York Road Runners at the United Airlines NYC Half, a 1500-meter race through the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
Watch the race live starting at 7:00 a.m. ET on WABC-TV, Channel 7 and on ESPN3 via Watch ESPN, and you might just catch the world's best racing side-by-side with the next generation of runners!