In February 2021, Ted Metellus became the new race director of the TCS New York City Marathon – the first Black race director of an Abbott World Marathon Major event. Born and raised in the Bronx, he has been with NYRR for 20 years, and will now be spearheading the organization through its first event post-COVID-19.
The son of two blue collar workers, organized sports were not always readily available to Metellus, but like the rest of his peers, he always wanted to be the fastest kid on the block. As a teenager, he joined his high school cross-country and track teams, and although he was one of the slower runners on the squad, he loved the camaraderie that came with the sport.
“Running brings people together, and that’s what I loved about it,” he says.
In 2001, a good friend and former colleague reached out to him, asking if he would assist with the planning for that year’s marathon. He jumped at the opportunity and has been working with the NYRR ever since. In 2019, he became the vice president of events and the technical director of the marathon, leading the NYRR’s event management and logistics, experiential events, and youth events teams, among other roles.
Metellus says he takes his new role very seriously, and he explains that there is a responsibility as the race director to not only carry out safe and logistically sound large-scale events, but to lead a team that produces a fun, enjoyable and even life-changing experience for thousands of runners each year. He says it takes a dedicated team to put on races for the masses, and he’s happy to be surrounded by a talented group of event staff who are focused on finding solutions, always striving to be better and still able to have fun through it all. Aside from the logistics of the role, Metellus is hoping to use his position to break down barriers for others.
“As the first Black race director of an Abbott World Marathon Majors race, I’m hoping I can shed light on all the talent that is out there and open doors for others to come in the future,” he says.
Of course, organizing a race of this scale in the age of COVID-19 adds another layer of complexity to the role, but Metellus and the NYRR are looking ahead to 2021 with optimism. Currently, the New York City Marathon is scheduled to take place on November 7, and the organization is working closely with city, state and agency partners, as well as medical experts, to plan an exciting event that is also safe for all participants. Metellus says his primary goal in his new position is to put on a safe, enjoyable and logistically sound experience for everyone involved, from runners and volunteers to partners and staff.
“I want all of us look back on Sunday, November 7, 2021, the way we look back at Sunday, November 4, 2001, two months after September 11,” he explains. “It was our first big step back.”