NEW YORK – The New York City Marathon was born in 1970, which happens to be the same year as the birth of my father, Josh Krulewitz. In 2020, the year of their respective 50th birthdays, my dad vowed to run the marathon as a bucket list item.
The covid pandemic canceled the 2020 marathon, but my dad’s dream finally came to fruition on Sunday, November 7th, 2021.
For a little context, there are two main ways you can enter the New York City Marathon (it’s a bit exclusive): you can qualify by clocking a certain time in a prior marathon, or you can enter through a charity.
As my dad had never run a marathon before and will likely never run one again, the latter option seemed to be a stronger pathway for him. The question became how.
In late 2019, my dad received an email from a colleague at ESPN, where he works, telling him that the V Foundation, a charity dedicated to cancer research and affiliated with ESPN, has a team that they put together each year for the race.
This was before the thought of running a marathon had even sparked in his mind. He was invited to attend an informational meeting about joining the team, and this led to him learning that the New York City Marathon was equally as old as him.They both happened to be turning 50 that year. 50 is a milestone birthday, and my dad – an optimistic man with enough personality to encompass the Earth – decided that this marathon was the way he wanted to celebrate.
Before training for the race, my dad is someone who could be characterized as a casual runner. He’s truly my inspiration and is one of the most jovial people I’ve ever met, but he wasn’t one that was known to lace up the sneakers more than a few times a year. Those few times fell within his annual self-declared “Six Weeks of Health” (abbreviated to Six Weeks of H).
This time chunk is the training period for our family relay that we do in memory of my paternal grandfather, who sadly died in 2007 after a heroic battle with cancer. He was a lively and generous man whom we miss every day.
In his memory, my dad set up a memorial fund that you can read about here. This memorial fund was set up through the V Foundation, the same charity that puts together the marathon team.
So, with the powerful memory of his own father by his side, my dad set off to complete a task more taxing yet exhilarating than most could even imagine: the New York City Marathon.
A quick Google search for “how to run a marathon for beginners” will tell you that you need to find a solid training regimen. My dad successfully found a match with Grete Waitz’s Run Your First Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Reach the Finish Line.
According to my father, Grete Waitz has two claims to fame. The first (and less humorous) claim is that she boasts nine New York Marathon victories, the most of any runner ever. The second, and I’ll spare you the details for fear you’ll lose your lunch, is that she overcame a bout of diarrhea during the 1984 New York City Marathon and then proceeded to win it anyway.
Waitz lost a fight with cancer in 2011, which my dad saw as all the more reason to use her training guide as he was running the race in support of cancer research.
In April 2020, my dad started training for his eventual steps across the soaring Central Park arches. In quite the unfortunate turn of events, covid led organizers in June of 2020 to cancel the marathon, which was originally scheduled for November 1st.
You would think that this news would convince someone to halt their training, or at least put it on hold until the crystal ball cleared up. But not in this case.
Ever determined, my dad pulled through for the rest of the training – which caps at 19 miles – in case any other opportunity might present itself.
This is a good time to note that my mother also completed the training with him, despite having no intention of running the actual marathon. I believe that she wanted to keep him company in the beginning stages, and then just continued to support him as the training went on.
Sometime later on, the charity reached out and let my dad know that if he desired it, he was reserved a spot in the 2021, 2022, or 2023 races because of the 2020 casualty.
Thinking that he wasn’t getting any younger, he decided to pounce on the 2021 marathon. Also, the 2021 marathon was still the 50th New York Marathon, and this was still his 50th birthday celebration despite turning another year older.
Throughout the offseason, my parents continued to go out for several runs per month to maintain at least a minor degree of their stamina. Then, this past summer, they ramped things up once again, for real this time. It was actually happening.
And so, 18 months and 1,000,000 “Grete kicked my living tail” (in reference to marathoner Waitz) comments later, my dad arrived in New York City on November 6th to run the marathon.
The night before the race, my family and the other V Foundation runners indulged in a carbo-load dinner at Carmine’s family-style Italian restaurant in Times Square. Eating just the right food the night before is the final boss one must defeat in preparation for running a marathon. After the feast, my dad headed off to bed for his last sleep before the fateful day.
On November 7th, he did it. He ran through the massive crowds with a distinct orange beanie and a great sense of accomplishment.
As he trotted across the finish line, my father flashed a thumbs up to the adoring fans. He threw his head and hands up to the heavens to thank the person that was always there: his father, Jack Krulewitz.
Baylee Krulewitz is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.
Editor’s note: Josh Krulewitz serves as a volunteer judge in Youth Journalism International’s annual Excellence in Journalism contest.