New York, October 21, 2021 – New York Road Runners (NYRR) announced today Team 50, a group which represents some of the most inspiring stories of runners taking part in the 50th running of the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7.


The individuals, selected from a field of more than 30,000 runners, include frontline workers, first responders, COVID-19 survivors, long-time volunteers, passionate supporters of causes and charities, and historic participants from the last 50 years of the New York City Marathon.


Team 50 runners will share their journeys and personal stories through a multi-platform approach, including locally on the WABC-TV broadcast and nationally on the ESPN2 race-day broadcast, as well as on social media.


Team 50 members include:


  • Barbara Rubenstein of New York, N.Y. – 91-year-old New York native who has volunteered at the finish line for more than 30 years.
  • Louis Maffei and the Bishop Loughlin High School Band – Brooklyn high school band that has played the theme from Rocky for more than 40 years.
  • Shalane Flanagan of Portland, Ore. – 2017 TCS New York City Marathon champion who has challenged herself to run all six Abbott World Marathon Majors this fall in under three hours, culminating in New York City.
  • Kellie Roe Kenny of Califon, N.J. – Survivor of the attacks on 9/11 who ran the 2001 New York City Marathon just two months later in memory of her co-workers who perished; she will return to run for the first time since then to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
  • Dr. Jose Alfredo Jimenez Gaxiola of Mexicali, Baja, Mexico – ICU doctor who worked on the frontlines of the pandemic before fighting his own bout with COVID-19.
  • Maria Jose Estrada Martinez of Puebla, Mexico – She was inspired to take up running as a way to cope with the stress of parenting during the pandemic and losing her grandfather, a New York City Marathon finisher himself, to the virus.
  • Lauren Nazarieh of Kew Gardens, N.Y. – Mastercard employee who started running during the pandemic after losing her grandfather to the virus.
  • Thomas Valles of McFarland, Calif. – Real-life runner who inspired the film McFarland USA, the story of a California cross-country high school team which, despite the odds, become state champions by using running as a way to stay off the streets.
  • Micaela Naibryf of Chicago, Ill. – She is running in memory of her brother Ilan, who at 21 perished in the Surfside condo collapse in Miami, Fla., and will be joined by Amnon Liebowitz, the Israeli structural engineer who recovered his body.
  • Harry Jason Booher of Pikesville, Ky. – School Superintendent and survivor of the nation’s deadliest drinking and driving crash – the 1988 Carrollton bus crash that claimed the lives of 27 – who is dedicating each mile to one of the victims, with the final 0.2 miles dedicated to his best friend who was sitting in the seat next to him.
  • Aaron Lee Burrows of Houston, Texas – A survivor of a workplace shooting who is running 50 marathons in 50 weeks in 50 states to raise $50K for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
  • Chris Nikic of Maitland, Fla. – The first athlete with Down syndrome to complete a full Ironman Triathlon and the winner of two ESPY awards is running for Kulture City.
  • Zahra of Afghanistan – Arrived in the U.S. five days before the Taliban gained control of Kabul and is running for Free to Run, as a voice for Afghan women.
  • Lauren Marten of Belle Harbor, N.Y. – Running with Stache Strong in support of her father who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in August 2020.
  • Sara Kate Gillingham and David Kane of Brooklyn, N.Y. – Living liver donor and donor recipient running together for the American Liver Foundation.
  • Nick Homan of El Paso, Texas – Running for the American Liver Foundation and the American Cancer Society in memory of his wife, Hayley, who died at age 27.
  • J. Burke Miller of Baltimore, Md. – Inspired to run the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon for Fred’s Team while watching Brittany Runs a Marathon as a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering. 
  • Joseph David Drake of Seattle, Wash. – Running all six Abbott World Marathon Majors with Parkinson’s disease as a part of Team Fox of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
  • Melinda Howard of Dubuque, Iowa – Paired up with Aiden, a then 3-year-old with numerous life-threatening illnesses, through the Irun4 buddy program in 2015. She will once again be running a marathon, for her now 10-year-old buddy.
  • Team ROAR of New York City – A group of 10 restaurant owners and workers running in support of the NYC restaurant industry.
  • Sara Zutter of Brooklyn, N.Y. – Rising New York Road Runners coach at PS 172 who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and had heart surgery at age 30; she’s running to inspire her students to take care of their health by being active.
  • Chris Tempro of Allentown, Pa. – A retired FDNY firefighter who worked recovery at Ground Zero after the attacks on 9/11, he’s running with the Team TCS Teachers program.
  • Participants of NYRR Striders – Six NYC seniors who are proving running a marathon has no age limit.
  • Danny Su of Brooklyn, N.Y. – Took up running as a form of therapy to help him emotionally and will be running the Virtual TCS New York City Marathon from his neighborhood in Bensonhurst to the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge on Sunday, October 24.



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