“I could remember standing at the start line the next year and [seeing] how impactful what I do—that solidified it for me—how impactful a job I have to see the world come here and run this race. And when the howitzer went off, I couldn’t pull myself away and I was really overwhelmed at the time. It was a testament to all the work we do to put this on and just standing there and seeing the people run past the start line…it was just overwhelming, but it was something I’ll always, always remember.”
Really enjoyed sitting down with Peter Ciaccia, president of events at the New York Road Runners and race director for the New York City Marathon, for the podcast this week!
Ciaccia, 65, will be retiring next month after 18 years with the organization. He took over race director duties for the world’s largest and most popular marathon in 2015 and oversees the production of every NYRR event throughout the year. Ciaccia, who is “committed to growing and sustaining a vibrant, inclusive running community,” has helped grow NYRR’s total number of finishers by over 40 percent.
We covered a lot of ground in this conversation, including: what he’ll miss most about his job, and the mark he hopes to leave on the organization—and the sport—when he steps down after this year’s New York City Marathon; how he plans to spend his time in retirement and the origins of his impeccable fashion sense; his upbringing in the Bronx and how that shaped his passion for health and fitness; why he first got involved with the NYRR in 2001 and how his role there has evolved over the years; his time working in the music industry and how that experience has influenced the way he thinks about and puts on running events.
I asked Ciaccia about the importance of professional athletes to races and what he’s done to help bridge the gap between the front of the pack and the back of the field; anti-doping and NYRR’s Run Clean initiative, which he spearheaded in 2015, and why that’s so important for the sport; the NYRR Youth Wheelchair Training Program, which he helped launch in 2016, and the opportunities it’s created for disabled kids; and whole lot more.
Related links, references, and resources:
— Chief of New York City Marathon Has Goal for All: Great Time, Fast or Otherwise. “My goal is to put on a race where no matter where you’re from or how fast you are, it’s going to be a sound, safe experience,” Ciaccia told Lindsay Crouse of The New York Times in 2015 when he took over as race director for the NYC Marathon. “I believe anyone can do this marathon, and I want them to have a great time.”
— “During his tenure, Ciaccia, who was born and raised in the Bronx, has emphasized mutual admiration and attention toward the fastest professional athletes as well as the back of the pack,” Erin Strout wrote for Runner’s World earlier this year. “At the marathon, for example, he invited the elite runners to return to the finish line with him hours later to welcome back those finishing in eight hours of more.”
— “It’s meant for guys running up front in the local races,” Ciaccia said of NYRR’s Run Clean initiative. “The idea is to just throw out a wider net.”
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Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford at BaresRecords.com
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