«Each member of the 2016 Five Borough Challenge team exhibits tenacity and determination – both physically and mentally,» said Andy Gray, vice president and general manager for Foot Locker U.S. The stories of these athletes are inspiring examples of the positivity that can come from life-altering events with perseverance and optimism.»
Inspired by their personal stories of conquering adversity, Foot Locker is proud to introduce its «Five Borough» Challenge runners:
- Bronx: Sean Neal
- Brooklyn: Kelly Roberts
- Manhattan: Evan Wood
- Queens: Kenan Bal
- Staten Island: Jen Correa
Sean Neal, Bronx
At 6’4, Bronx native, Sean Neal, has always been a large guy. However, when his weight reached 300 pounds, he began running as a means of losing weight. Neal ran his first marathon in honor of his cousin Phillip, who was killed on assignment in Tikrit, Iraq in 2010. The same year, he and his wife lost their daughter Eva due to a pregnancy complication. «Running helped me find the strength I needed to be there for my wife, and the peace I needed in order to survive,» Neal said. Since 2011, he has run four marathons and one ultra-marathon.
Kelly Roberts, Brooklyn
Kelly Roberts, founder of RunselfieRepeat.com and advocator of the #SportsBraSquad, will be running in her seventh marathon, representing Brooklyn. Roberts, recently named by Women’s Running as one of 20 women changing the sport, hasn’t always had a passion for running. She had gained more than 75 pounds after her brother’s unexpected death. She began running to cope with his absence, manage her grief and remove the crippling shame from her body image. «Running isn’t impossible, it just isn’t easy. But through running, I’ve found a way to remind myself that even in the hardest times, as long as you can put one foot in front of the other, anything is possible,» Roberts said.
Evan Wood, Manhattan
Manhattan resident, Evan Wood, was 13 years-old when he lost his
father to cancer. A year later, after unexplainable stomach pain and weight loss, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. «Crohn’s and death are mysterious, frustrating problems without clear answers,» Wood said. Running offered him a challenge that he could control. «It taught me that progress is a process and restored my belief that hard work and resilience can be rewarded,» he said. This will be his fifth marathon.
Kenan Bal, Queens
Queens native and first-generation American, Kenan Bal, began running as a means to stay in shape and clear his mind during his father’s battle with lung cancer. Very close to his dad, Bal said his father fought the disease every day, as if it was a minor cold. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer this past April. «If I’m having a bad day running or too tired to go that extra mile, I think of all the hardship he went through without complaining, and am able to push myself,» Bal said. His brother and sister-in-law will also be running the marathon in honor of their father.
Jen Correa, Staten Island
Staten Island resident, Jen Correa, will be running her fifth New York City Marathon. Running regularly has helped her stay strong through stressful life events. When Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island, Correa’s husband barely survived the storm. The couple lost their home and all of their belongings. Knowing this, someone gave Correa a pair of running shoes just six weeks after the devastation. «Running was the thing that kept me going, kept me sane, and reminded me that I was strong. Nothing was going to break me,» she said. For Correa, the sport has put her back into a place of hope.
Foot Locker is dedicated to inspiring – and welcoming – all runners, whether they’re beginners, weekend warriors, ultra-marathoners or anything in between. In addition to its official TCS New York City Marathon sponsorship, Foot Locker has supported running for the past 40 years through partnerships, campaigns and events such as «Real Lives. Real Runners.» and Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
Foot Locker will offer the latest in cutting-edge running technology with the new ASICS Marathon Collection, which is currently available in select NYC Foot Locker stores.
About Foot Locker:
Foot Locker is part of Foot Locker, Inc., a specialty athletic retailer that operates approximately 3,400 stores in 23 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Through its Foot Locker, Footaction, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, SIX:02, Runners Point, and Sidestep retail stores, as well as its direct-to-customer channels, including footlocker.com, Eastbay.com, SIX:02.com, runnerspoint.com, and sidestep-shoes.com, the Company is a leading provider of athletic footwear and apparel.
Additional information may be found at footlocker.com | Twitter: @footlocker | Instagram: @footlocker | YouTube: youtube.com/footlocker | Blog: unlocked.footlocker.com | Facebook: facebook.com/footlocker
About the TCS New York City Marathon:
The TCS New York City Marathon is the premier event of New York Road Runners (NYRR) and the largest marathon in the world. Over 1,000,000 people have finished the race since its first running in 1970 with just 127 entrants and 55 finishers running four laps around Central Park. The race expanded to all five boroughs in 1976 and is now in its 40th year as a five-borough affair. Held annually on the first Sunday of November, the race features 50,000 runners including the world’s top professional athletes and a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. Participants from over 125 countries tour the city, starting on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and running through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx before ending in Manhattan. In 2015, the inaugural NYRR Youth Invitational at the TCS New York City Marathon gave young runners the opportunity to run 1.8 miles of the race course in Central Park, beginning near mile 24 and finishing at the famed TCS New York City Marathon finish line. More than one million spectators and thousands of volunteers line the city streets in support of the runners, while millions more watch the live television broadcast in the New York area on WABC-TV, Channel 7, nationally on ESPN2, and via various international broadcast partners around the world. The race is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which features the world’s top marathons—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York—and crowns the top professional male and female marathoners each year. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization, is the premier partner of NYRR and the title sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon. The 46th running of the TCS New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 6, 2016. To learn more, visit www.tcsnycmarathon.org.