Running with Dad: Nine Father's Day Stories from the NYRR Staff
June 17 is Father's Day, the Sunday we set aside each year to honor the men who raised us to become the people we are today. To celebrate, New York Road Runners staff shared stories about their dads and the role they play or have played in their running careers.
"My dad started running in 1976 shortly after he quit drinking but while he was still a heavy smoker (two packs a day of unfiltered Pall Malls). He was able to eventually give up that addiction, too, after running two New York City Marathons and countless shorter-distance races. I have such happy memories of running with him, cheering him on in races, meeting and getting to know his running buddies, and feeling his pride in my own successes as a runner. He truly loved running and all the positive things it brought him—health, fitness, friendships, and a closer relationship to his family. I probably would have found my way to running one way or another even without my dad, but I’m so grateful to have had his shining example."
Related: The Run On Staff Recount Our First Races
"My dad started running to lose weight in 2004 and I immediately started tagging along, not really because I thought it looked fun but because I wanted to hang out with him. I ran my first-ever race—a Labor Day 2-miler in Glen Rock, NJ—with him and I haven’t stopped since.
I was never great at sports, but I found my stride with community fun runs and 5Ks, all of which my dad ran with me. One Sunday we even ran two 5Ks back-to-back in different towns because we thought it would be silly. Back then, six miles felt like a lot!
My dad got me my first NYRR membership in 2005 and I was totally hooked. I was in the youngest age group and there weren’t that many kids running, so my dad was also scoping out the competition with me to see if I could place in my age group. One time he even let me miss school so we could run the NYRR 50th Anniversary Run, which was on a weekday.
When I was in middle school, I somehow got it into my head that I needed to run the New York City Marathon and my dad told me if I ever did, he would run it with me. Fast-forward to years later, and we did our 9+1 in 2014 and in 2015 ran the marathon together start to finish.
At that point, I had just graduated college and started working full-time at NYRR. Staff who were out on the course knew to look for me and my dad, so we got a lot high fives, hugs, and even a shout-out when we crossed the finish line together. Finishing the marathon with my dad is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We’d been talking about doing this for more than 10 years and when it was over, I looked back and couldn’t believe that we had actually done it. I remember crossing the finish line and crying, getting my medal with my dad, and taking a picture. There have been other marathons since then, but none as special as New York. It was like finishing with my best friend."
"My dad was an amazing pole vaulter in high school. He could have competed in college, but his life took a different path. Despite that, he passed his love for the sport onto his kids. My older brother and sister ran road races with him when they were young and eventually became prolific distance runners as teens. By the time I had reached high school and joined track, my family was something of a local running dynasty. I decided I did not want to be a distance runner like my siblings and became a sprinter instead, although I lacked the coordination I would have needed to be a pole vaulter like my dad.
Throughout my high-school running career he never missed a meet. He would leave work early to be there and always had the newest information on the conditions and the status of my top competition. He read the race reports for every local meet and knew what the other racers had been running the entire season, and he gave me advice on how to beat them. Eventually he started to tape my races so that we could sit down together the next day and go over every detail of how the race went.
With my racing days behind me, my dad and I still watch all major track and field meets when they are on TV. He will even save them on the DVR for days or weeks until I come to visit, just so we can watch together—although these days we spend most of the time arguing over the runners' fashion choices.
My years as a track and field runner were some of the greatest and most difficult times of my life, and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. I have my dad (and my mom!) to thank for his ever-present support and dedication to helping me get through them."
"Running has always had a presence in my family. A photo of my grandfather being hoisted up by his teammates after a high-school track meet win hangs in my grandparents’ living room. My cousins and I were constantly told stories of how our parents, aunts, and uncles were all record-holding track stars. When I was little, my dad used to push me in the running stroller and I would yell at him, “Go faster! Faster!” We even won a local road race like that, me coaching from the front seat. I think technically that means that I beat my dad, since I did cross the finish line before he did…
Dance was always my sport of choice, not running. However, as I got older and out of the dance world, I needed an athletic activity to fill the void left by no longer having hours upon hours of ballet class per week. Running was something I could fit into my schedule whenever it was convenient for me, and it gave me a point of connection with my dad.
For his birthday in 2016, we decided to celebrate by running one of his favorite races together. It was a ten-miler, much farther than any race I had done at the time. Even though we were training several states apart, we always talked about our progress after our training runs.
The day of the race was awful. It was absolutely pouring. My dad was there every step of the miserable way, doing his best to help me get through it, even though his mile time is minutes faster than mine. In the words of my dad, 'We didn’t set any speed records—the course was tough (hills, hills, and more hills) and it was POURING rain, but I got to run with my daughter in her first ten-mile race and that meant a whole lot more to me than a PR or age-group win.'
I signed up for my first marathon after being inspired by watching my cousin cross the finish line at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. I quickly convinced my dad (and my mom!) to run it with me. We’ll be racing our first marathon together this October, my first overall. As daunting as that is, it’s reassuring to have my dad right there with me. To help me gear up, I recently ran my first half-marathon at the SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon in April. My dad drove 12 hours round-trip to stand in Central Park with a sign and cheer me on. The only thing that felt better than finally crossing that finish line was having him be there to see it."
"My dad, Mark Lamar, has volunteered the last two years and will do so again this year as a Race Buddy for the NYRR Run for the Future program at the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K run. He and my mother have always been huge supporters of my professional running, traveling across the country to see me race in 12 different states. When I started working at NYRR, my parents extended their support to the program I manage and the youth we serve. My mom volunteers at the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K finish and my dad enjoys pacing the NYRR Run for the Future participants as they tackle the 5K distance in a race for the first time. I am extremely thankful for their support."
"My dad, Tony Callaway, has been a runner since before I was born. My earliest memories are cheering for him along Peachtree Street in Atlanta as he ran the Peachtree Road Race. He has now run the race 37 consecutive years! I was able to convince him to do a few half-marathons, including the 2017 Brooklyn Half—it was a great way to celebrate my mom’s 65th birthday. Most recently, he placed third in his age group at a local 5K. His dedication to keeping active and fit into his 70s inspires me so much! I can’t wait to accompany him as he runs his 40th Peachtree in 2020!"
"I have a lot of running memories with my dad thanks to dozens of track meets and cross country meets over the years. He was always taking splits or cheering me on.
At last December’s NYRR Ted Corbitt 15K, I got to pace him to break 80 minutes. He’d done the workouts and the training, it was cold and a little snowy, he was anxious about having worn a long-sleeve and a vest, but when I checked my watch and we were rolling down the west side at nearly 8 minute/mile pace, I knew that we’d do it comfortably.
My dad hasn’t run in Central Park much and the size of the field brought him back to his Broad Street Run days from my childhood. When I’d murmur about pace (we dropped to 7:40s and I got a little nervous), he'd wave me off. We finished in a cool 1:19:17. It was a blast, we took a picture, got brunch, and happily watched the snow from inside for the rest of the day."
"For me, running is a great way to see a new city, and I’ve recruited my parents to join me on these adventures. This year, we went to Burlington for the Vermont City Marathon. Last year, we headed west to Eugene, OR. I love that my mom and dad are up for exploring through running, and it was extra special when my dad joined me last year as a Race Buddy for the NYRR Run for the Future program at the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K. I was a mentor all summer and it culminated in a 5K, a monumental distance for these first-time runners. I was so proud that my dad and I were able to be a part of this experience and encourage these awesome girls as they crossed the finish line."
"Last fall, my son Isaac challenged his dad to train for the Popular Brooklyn Half. His dad had run this race before but had fallen out of shape, and Isaac thought this might be a way to inspire his dad to exercise.
They both got new shoes at the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub. Eric pulled out his old running tights and pants; Isaac used the long underwear he skis in. They started with 5Ks three times a week in the morning before school, then moved on to the NYRR Virtual Trainer program. They even ran on vacation in Spain and Morocco! They ran before skiing in the Berkshires. They ran NYRR races.
Finally, the race was coming up. I was working the Pre-Party, and they came in and got their bibs. The excitement was building for both of them.
Isaac ran back with his dad. He stayed with him for the first three miles. Eric knew Isaac wanted to break loose, so he said, 'Go!' Isaac finished, exhausted, in 2:06. But one Gatorade later, he said, 'Let’s go cheer for Dad!' So we did, and we saw Eric finish in 2:20."