Non-profit expands race calendar with new NYRR Mindful 5K

New partnership with NAMI-NYC for Mental Health Awareness Month activations and consultancy throughout the year

New York, May 1, 2024 — In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, New York Road Runners (NYRR) today announced a new race —the NYRR Mindful 5K—in addition to an expanded partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC) and a series of activations to positively impact individuals’ mental health through running. During the month of May, through in-person races, virtual challenges, and digital resources, the New York City–based non-profit will increase access to running and its extensive physical, social, mental, and emotional benefits.

“Runners know the positive impact that running can have on their mental health,” said Rob Simmelkjaer, CEO, New York Road Runners. “Highlighting the power of running to build healthier lives and stronger communities is core to our mission, and we are proud to use our platform to educate, share resources, and raise awareness about mental health, while providing numerous opportunities for people to be physically and mentally fit all year long.”

According to NAMI-NYC, NYRR’s Mental Health Awareness Month partner, we are all affected by mental illness. One in five New Yorkers struggle with their mental health, and the other four are their family and friends. The mental health crisis is especially evident among young adults ages 18-34 who report poorer mental health compared to other age groups. The trend is seen across the country, with nearly 20% of kids and adolescents ages 3-17 experiencing a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder.

Running is a low cost, low risk, and accessible way to improve one’s mental health, with studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that adults can lower their risk of depression by 18-20% by starting an exercise program like running. Running can also reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost brainpower, all of which may contribute to better mental health.


NYRR Mindful 5K

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month, on May 4 more than 5,000 adults and hundreds of youth from around the five boroughs will participate in the NYRR Mindful 5K, a new race in celebration of running’s profound impact on mental well-being. The race will take place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, and participants will have the opportunity to practice meditation and mindfulness at a meditation tent sponsored by NAMI-NYC. Before the 5K, Peloton Instructors Mariana Fernández and Kristin McGee will lead runners through a meditation session in English and Spanish.

To honor running and mental health, NYRR is spotlighting three of its inspiring Mindful 5K participants whose lives have been transformed through running:

·       Diana Carolina Rincon of Flushing, Queens, N.Y. – A proud, bilingual, first-generation Queens native and World’s Fair Run Crew member who has been a teacher at PS 28 Wright Brothers School for 17 years. She started running in May 2023 and it has helped her overcome anxiety and relieve the stress of teaching. Diana will run the NYRR Mindful 5K with several of her World’s Fair teammates to celebrate their home borough and park.

·       Abigail Castillo of Elmhurst, Queens, N.Y. – Born and raised in the Philippines, Abigail moved to New York City in late 2022 and found a supportive and strong running community that has helped her maintain her mental health after being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2018.

·       Janie Deegan of Upper West Side, New York, N.Y. – Before becoming the owner and founder of the renowned bakery Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods, Janie spent years struggling with her mental health, addiction, homelessness. Running and baking nurtured her back to a place of self-esteem and self-acceptance. Through her bakery, Janie provides second-chance employment, teaches baking classes to underprivileged youth in East Harlem, and donates time and baked goods to local community centers and homeless shelters.

NYRR Open Run for an Open Mind

On Saturday, May 11, New Yorkers can participate in a special Open Run for an Open Mind in Highland Park, Brooklyn with NAMI-NYC.  The mental health organization will give brief remarks about the importance of physical activity for one’s mental health and offer Open Runners resources and NAMI-NYC goodies. After the presentation participants will run 2.5 miles around Highland Park.

On Sunday, May 19, Conference House Park, Staten Island will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month with an Open Run for an Open Mind, featuring a 5K run around the park.


For those unable to attend in-person, NYRR’s Mental Health Awareness Month features several virtual races and challenges:

Virtual NYRR Mental Health Awareness Month Challenge: From May 1 – May 31, runners can run 31 total miles anywhere, anytime, in recognition of running and mental health and log their miles on Strava.

Rising NYRR Mental Health Matters Virtual Challenge: Through May 31, Rising New York Road Runners can partake in a series of 30 activities, including breathing, reflection, and mindfulness exercises. Rising New York Road Runners is NYRR’s free running-based youth program that serves over 137,000 students nationwide.


In addition to NAMI-NYC’s collaboration with NYRR on Mental Health Awareness Month, the mental health organization will become a year-round mental health consultant. The two non-profits share a commitment to destigmatizing mental health and expanding access to resources. Throughout the year, NYRR will engage NAMI-NYC’s expertise and guidance on mental well-being programming and efforts. NAMI-NYC will host meditation tents at select NYRR races and have a presence at the 2024 TCS New York City Marathon.


To increase awareness of mental health and running, NYRR is sharing ample educational opportunities and resources to runners. On May 1, NYRR will host a panel discussion featuring mental health professionals and advocates, Matt Kudish, CEO of NAMI-NYC, Victoria Fortune, a NYRR Contributors Circle member and wellness advocate, and Diana Carolina Rincon, a New York City teacher and World’s Fair Run Crew member. The panel will highlight the mind-body connection and provide insight into how running and physical activity have transformed the panelists’ lives, helping them cope, persevere, and thrive.

On May 2, NYRR podcast NYRR Set the Pace Presented by Peloton will release a Mental Health Awareness Month episode with Peloton Instructor Mariana Fernández, who will share her own running journey before providing listeners with a sneak peek of new guided meditation content.

Throughout May, will have a dedicated Mental Health landing page with resources, information, and runner stories focused on running’s positive impact on mental health.

NYRR’s Mental Health Awareness Month efforts are supported by NAMI-NYC, Peloton, and Strava.

About New York Road Runners (NYRR)

NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. Since 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, virtual races, community events, free youth running initiatives and school programs, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features a wide population of runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. To learn more, visit