New York, October 19, 2023 – New York Road Runners (NYRR) has announced this year’s members of Team Inspire, a group of 26 runners participating in the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon with some of the most compelling reasons for their runs. This group represents the diversity, width, and breadth of the 50,000-runner field that will trek through the five boroughs on Sunday, November 5.
With runners from all 50 states and 153 different countries, the TCS New York City Marathon is the biggest and boldest marathon in the world. Team Inspire consists of runners tackling 26.2 miles for the first time, streakers who have yet to miss a first Sunday in November, charity runners putting purpose behind their miles, and participants who have overcome challenges with the help of running.
Team Inspire members for the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon include:
Aubrey Barr of Duxbury, Mass. – Diagnosed with a rare cancer as a child and given six months to live, Aubrey has overcome great odds and has since completed more than 25 TCS New York City Marathons with Fred’s Team: she has raised over $500,000 for the charity cumulatively.
Adrienne Bunn of Ocala, Fla. – A high school senior who this month became the youngest autistic woman ever to complete an Ironman endurance event with her finish in Kona, Hawaii, she will be running her first TCS New York City Marathon on behalf of Kulture City, the nation’s leading nonprofit on sensory accessibility and acceptance for those with individual disabilities.
Cal Calamia of San Francisco – A prominent running activist and pioneer for the trans and non-binary community, Cal is running their first TCS New York City Marathon in the sub-elite field. They have used their platform to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the running industry, including non-binary divisions at races.
Jamie Citron of Washington, D.C. – Originally from Highland Park, Ill., Jamie’s family survived the 2022 Independence Day Parade mass shooting, one of the two deadliest shootings in Illinois history. Jamie is participating in the marathon as a member of Team Sandy Hook Promise to help his niece reassociate running with positivity and reduce her trauma.
Chris Di Niso of Bay Terrace, Staten Island, N.Y. – A non-binary native of Staten Island who has worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation for 17 years, Chris is part of the team that ensures the streets are clean and clear for the marathon. They discovered NYRR Open Run in 2016 and have since become one of the longest-tenured Open Run participants and have completed four TCS New York City Marathons.
Margot Fleming of Los Angeles – The daughter of 1973 New York City Marathon champion Tom Fleming, Margot is running her first TCS New York City Marathon to honor the 50th anniversary of Tom’s 1973 victory.
Justin Grunewald of Boulder, Colo. – Justin’s wife, Gabe Grunewald, a professional runner, tragically lost her decade-long battle with a rare cancer in 2019 at the age of 32. He is now continuing Gabe’s legacy by running the TCS New York City Marathon for Brave Like Gabe, the foundation for cancer research that Gabe created during her illness.
Roman Kashpur of Khmil’nyk, Ukraine – In 2019, Roman, a Ukrainian soldier, lost his leg when stepping on a land mine and was fitted for a prosthesis. When war broke out in Ukraine last year, he returned to the front lines and helped train new troops, saving the region from destruction. Within the span of eight days, Roman will run the Marine Corps Marathon and the TCS New York City Marathon for Citizen Foundation, a charity which supports wounded Ukrainian servicemen.
Tania Kinsella and Glorisel Lee of North Shore and Annadale, Staten Island, N.Y. – Proud to call Staten Island home, NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Tania Kinsella – the first woman of color in the position – and Capt. Glorisel Lee, the Commanding officer of the 123rd Precinct on Staten Island, will run the marathon together after recently completing the NYRR Staten Island Half in their home borough. This will be Tania’s fifth TCS New York City Marathon and Glorisel’s first.
Mandy Kwan of Marine Park, Brooklyn, N.Y. – Mandy immigrated to Brooklyn from Hong Kong when she was 11 years old and has called the borough home ever since. In 2015, her parents and their best friends started attending NYRR Open Runs in Marine Park. Soon Mandy was inspired to get into running herself, now with three generations of runners – her mom, Mandy, and her kids – all participating in Open Run together. This year she ran her first NYRR race and will be running her first marathon.
Henry McGowan of Upper East Side, New York, N.Y. – He was hoping to run the TCS New York City Marathon last year but had a manic episode, which led to a Bipolar Disorder Type I diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization. Now having returned to running, Henry is running the marathon on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Robert Moore of Washington Heights, New York, N.Y. – A 72-year-old NYRR Open Runner, Robert was diagnosed as borderline diabetic in 2016. When his doctor recommended exercise, he worked with NYRR to launch a new Open Run site at Inwood Hill Park. With the help of Open Run, he has dramatically improved his blood sugar and lost over 50 pounds and will be completing his sixth marathon.
Wan Park of Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y. – An immigrant from Korea who struggled with culture shock and a language barrier, Wan found solace in running by joining his high school track team. He’s now a math teacher at a school in the South Bronx, which is on Mile 19 of the marathon route, and integrates running analogies into his math problems for students. Wan is one of 50 teachers running the marathon as part of the TCS Teachers program.
Tony Passaro of Great Kills, Staten Island, N.Y. – Tony has been an NYPD police officer for nearly 12 years and started running five years ago but was sidelined with a serious injury after a freak accident in 2020. Unable to run and 75 pounds overweight, he was inspired to begin running again after hearing TCS New York City Marathon race director Ted Metellus address the crowd at the Blue Line Painting Ceremony last year. He will run the marathon with the NYPD Running Club.
Pankaj Patel of East Meadow, N.Y. – A civil engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation for the past 30 years, Pankaj helps ensure the roads are safe for the marathon and also runs the roads himself as a 16-time TCS New York City Marathon finisher. This year Pankaj’s team will help repair the Queensboro Bridge so roadway conditions for the wheelchair athletes are optimal.
Gisela Perez of Concourse Village, the Bronx, N.Y. – At 70 years old, Gisela coaches and inspires runners and walkers of all ages – from high school young women running for the first time to older adults maintaining fitness in their 80s through NYRR’s Run for the Future and Striders programs. Gisela first discovered running in high school and ran her first New York City Marathon in 1994. Almost 30 years later Gisela will complete her 24th marathon, which will be her 300th NYRR race.
Brock Polnaszek of Warren, R.I. – From the age of three Brock has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and was told by a doctor that he would never run a marathon. His experience as a child inspired him to become a doctor. Mobility and movement have been beneficial to controlling his RA symptoms and Brock will be running the marathon with the Arthritis Foundation.
Tricia Quartey-Sagaille of Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y. – A 42-year-old runner, mother, and dentist, she is running the marathon for Black maternal health and to honor her son, born last year. Her journey to motherhood was difficult and riddled with health complications. Tricia had a real fear of dying during childbirth as a Black woman and has dedicated her personal and professional life to advocating for Black maternal health.
Ryan Smith of Bethlehem, Pa. – Ryan is in his 25th year as a United States Army soldier and has leaned on running to get him through difficult times, including when he’s far from family and when his mom passed away unexpectedly. He is running the marathon for Release Recovery Foundation, which granted his nephew a scholarship to help with his drug rehabilitation.
Rahsaan Thomas and Claire Gelbart of Oakland, Calif. and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y. – While serving a sentence of 55 years to life at San Quentin State Prison, Rahsaan met volunteer Claire Gelbart and the two quickly bonded over their shared passions of journalism and running. They made a pact that when Rahsaan was released they would celebrate his freedom by running the TCS New York City Marathon together. Six years later, that dream is coming true and Rahsaan will be running for Empowerment Avenue, a nonprofit he founded which supports incarcerated writers and artists.
Anthony Tucker of Grand Concourse, the Bronx, N.Y. – Growing up in a housing project in Harlem, Anthony lacked positive role models, seeing himself reflected in the lives of neighborhood drug dealers and hustlers, which led to him dropping out of high school. He was eventually inspired by a friend to pursue his education and is now an assistant principal at a school in the South Bronx. He’s running his first marathon with NYRR Team for Kids to prove that life’s obstacles can be overcome and to support the next generation of runners.
Tiffany Velez of Lawrence, N.J. – As a teen mom growing up in Ridgewood, Queens, Tiffany defied the odds and finished her education to become a bilingual occupational therapist. She’s training for her first marathon with Ridgewood Runners.
Verna Volker of Minneapolis – Verna is a proud mother, runner, member of Navajo Nation, and founder of Native Women Running, which she started in 2018 to share stories of Native women and to give them a platform. The organization provides race opportunities and resources for Native women, all of whom share a spiritual relationship to running. Eight women, including Verna, will represent Native Women Running at the marathon.
Alice Yu of New Hyde Park, N.Y. – A survivor of 9/11 who walked down 71 flights of stairs in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, Alice believes she’s been given a second chance at life. She’s a new runner, having started during the pandemic, and since 2020 has increased her race distance from 5K to 10K to half marathon to now, her first full marathon in New York.
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 www.nyrr.org.