Many people associate Michael Capiraso directly with the New York City Marathon. This makes sense, given Capiraso’s tenure leading the New York Road Runners (NYRR). As the former CEO and president of NYRR, he led the doubling of the company’s revenue to over $100 million and the doubling of participation in its events and programming.
Now over 700,000 people consider themselves NYRR regulars, and they regard Capiraso’s multi-year partnerships with TCS, New Balance, and the Trust for Public Land in NYC to be real forces for the public good. We asked Capiraso a few questions to learn more about his time with the NYRR.
What Do You Love About Running?
Many people join a local gym and work out when they have time. However, one sport is often overlooked even though it is incredibly easy to pick up and can be done in almost any location, at any time, with minimal equipment necessary. That sport is running. I love running because everyone can do it almost everywhere, and it can be done alone or with others. Running is also a lifetime activity that helps to support physical and mental health.
What Draws You to Leadership in the Running Community?
There is a significant group of like-minded people who enjoy the sport of running. These individuals typically run several days a week at varying speeds and for varying distances. Supporting the running community gives me purpose and fulfills a passion to help impact the overall health and wellbeing of people. I love being able to be part of something that’s such a force for good.
Can You Tell Us About the NYRR Run Center You Founded?
The NYRR Run Center is a community run center in NYC fully devoted to all things running. It hosts fitness and nutrition classes specifically tailored for runners. Classes can include HIIT, yoga, dance, strength training, and stretching. The center also sponsors community events, such as educational and developmental conferences on running, book events, and training classes for competitive runners.
The center also hosts the New Balance Run Hub. This store is devoted entirely to stocking the newest running gear and equipment.
New Balance has partnered with the New York Road Runners to donate a pair of running shoes to a child for every pair purchased at the store under the 1 For You, 1 For Youth program. Negotiating this agreement with New Balance was one of the greatest achievements I enjoyed while heading NYRR..
How Do You See the Role of Youth in the Sport?
The New York Road Runners are known for encouraging youth running programs in New York City and throughout the country. For over 20 years, they have sponsored free youth running programs in schools. These programs are designed to be fun and educational classes that inspire kids to develop a lifelong love of running.
The organization continues to promote running and fitness activities for adults and senior citizens. There are typically over twenty free Open Run 5Ks scheduled in an average week by the New York Road Runners. They also encourage senior citizens to join in on walking programs designed to keep them fit and active in their later years. Running is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy at any age.
How Did the Pandemic Affect the Running Community?
As with nearly every other sport, business, or industry, the ability to hold regular in-person running races was restricted due to COVID-19.
However, the New York Road Runners still set out to keep people active, inspired, and engaged within the running community through digital engagement. They held regular fitness classes online, designed to be performed in the comfort of one’s home. There were also Virtual Races in partnership with Strava that provided runners with a great way to stay connected to running and the running community during the pandemic. Our team sponsored digital races, where people from anywhere in the world could sign up and compete against one another in 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons using the latest technology.
We were so determined to keep the running community close-knit that the New York Road Runners also held talks on running, health, and nutrition that people could join online.
What Do You See Going Forward?
My hope is that running and the running community continue to grow and provide benefits to people to improve their physical and mental health, which can make us all better and healthier.