With the impending TCS New York City Marathon, a long-distance run that sprawled all five boroughs of NYC and over 26.2 miles, New Balance decided to host an event to spotlight specific individuals that had signed up for the marathon, and with the help of New Balance, had taken their game and motivation to the next level. These individuals came from all walks of life and had varying levels of expertise running, and they therefore served as the perfect panelists to channel motivation and generate excitement for the upcoming event.
The event space itself was exuberant and lively, with a bar serving champagne, beer, and wine, and cater waiters walking around with hors d’oeuvres, such as spicy rigatoni vodka and vegetable dumplings. The surrounding walls were emblazoned with the words, “Run Your Way.”
Along the back of the room was also a display of some of New Balance’s newest creations in terms of footwear, specifically focusing on the 1080 line. A visual diagram of the shoe’s history over 12 iterations was also displayed. I walked around and examined each one while trying a rice ball from the kitchen, and soon enough, the interview with the panelists was announced to begin soon.
Walking onto the stage first was Greydy Diaz, who would serve as the moderator and interviewer for the event. Her backstory was interesting because she had a natural connection with New Balance; she grew up extremely close to a New Balance factory, and could see first hand the impact that brought onto her community. Now, she works as a journalist, producer, and host of the show “Test Run”. She quieted the audience, introduced herself, and ushered in the individuals that would be interviewed.
Jess Movold, Tommie Runz, Harry Hudson, and Marlon “Chito” Vera walked onto the stage, each person with their own special connection to New Balance and running, and each a participant in the upcoming marathon. Through the interview process, I was able to learn about what motivates each individual, and their unique stories that allowed them to discover running. Jess Movold is an elite runner that is focused on using running as a way to build a community for others, and connect newcomers to the sport. Working as an athlete, coach, creator, and journalist, she works to spread awareness about the benefits of running and make it as assessable as possible.
Tommie Runz used running as a way of coping with his struggles growing up in Detroit while battling addiction, sobriety, and fatherhood. He now works as a content creator and hosts his own Youtube series, which he uses to bring people together and maintain inclusivity, and also uses the platform to talk about his vulnerability and how running has helped him.
Harry Hudson is the most recent advocate of running from those on stage, having only started several months ago, but his story was no less powerful. He battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma early in his life, and as a musician, he used music and running to maintain his physical and mental health. He will be participating in the TCS marathon for the first time this year, and raising money for his charity.
Lastly was Marlon “Chito” Vera, an Ecuadorian UFC fighter who utilizes running to build mental and physical strength, by running thirteen miles each Sunday as part of his training. With this increasing his stamina in and out, he can stay more focused during fights and last much longer than his opponents. The most unlikely out of the panelists to be thought of as a runner, he demonstrated to us that anyone could run.
I truly felt inspired after hearing the panelists’ stories, and I began to reflect on my own workouts and how I may incorporate running to be a part of them. I have traditionally overlooked cardio exercises, but after learning about the overwhelming benefits to the heart, body, and mind, I decided that I would take the initiative to begin running.
I could not run in the TCS marathon this year, but I really want to do so next year, and this would only be possible after becoming comfortable with running. Of course, New Balance would be there with their amazing products along the way.
At the end of the night, we were greeted by a performance by Queens-based rapper Action Bronson and his band, who played a myriad of covers, original pieces, and Action Bronson’s own music. Donning New Balance 990s, his energy and care towards lyricism were truly a sight to behold. On the way out, New Balance employees were giving sneakers to all media attendees, much to my surprise. Internally acknowledging that I had no excuse to avoid running now, I added a reminder to my phone to go on a run the next day. I no longer felt threatened by the prospect, because after all, I would be running my way.