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Cathy’s NYC Marathon Mania: From Spectator to Streaks, Peaks … and More!

Cathy C.

A Note from Co-Blogkeeper Melissa:

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Flyer Cathy Caulfield, a retired NYC Department of Education school teacher who now teaches pre-school and religion for her own enjoyment.  Cathy says that running the NYC Marathon is the second best thing she’s done in life, after marrying her husband (which takes first place). 😍

Cathy will tell you that her favorite holiday is Marathon Sunday. Is it mere coincidence that her birthday, November 5th, often falls on this cherished day? Maybe her love for this “national holiday” is innate. See what you think when you read what Cathy has to say about her love of running, the NY Flyers, and her marathon mania!

Melissa: Hi Cathy! Tell us about your NYC Marathon journey … from the beginning!

Cathy: Sure! In 1976, my parents drove my brothers and me into the city from Long Island to watch the first time that the NYC Marathon left Central Park to run through all five boroughs. At the time, there were so few runners compared to today, and they didn’t even close off the streets to traffic. While crossing the 59th Street Bridge in our station wagon, we picked up a runner who needed assistance, and I remember thinking how fascinating it was to have a “real marathon runner” in our own car! 

Over the years, I lived in three different apartments along First Avenue just to be on the marathon course. I became obsessed with the NYC Marathon, and every year I would host a “watch party” where we would cheer on the runners as they passed by.

Melissa: Wow! I love that. And what led you to start running marathons?

Cathy: I was always a big cyclist. In 1997, I rode my bike across the country. My friend, Dennis, who is a quadriplegic, introduced me to an organization called Shake-a-Leg, a rehabilitation center in Rhode Island. I raised money for this worthy cause. When I thought about Dennis's situation, I felt tremendous gratitude and appreciation for God and for everything I was able to do. So, despite being known as someone who hated running, I put my name in the lottery in 1998 and won an entry to my first NYC Marathon!

As soon as I found out that I was “in” for the marathon, I started running and training with Bob Glover of NY Road Runners (NYRR) for 16 consecutive weeks before the big day. 

Melissa: Rumor has it that you’ve got quite a marathon streak. How many NYC Marathons have you run in a row?

Cathy: Well, I did take some breaks throughout the years. Initially, I ran the NYCM from 1998-2004 inclusive, but then I took off while I was trying to start a family. It turned out that we were fortunate to adopt two children from Guatemala. My husband and I chose Guatemala since we both appreciate Latino culture and we wanted the children to share our religion, which is Catholic. 

On my birthday, November 5, 2006, I ran with Team for Kids, the charity running team of NYRR, which was the first time I ever ran with a group of other runners. I used to train by myself, and joining Team for Kids made me open my eyes to the joy of group training runs. I used to think group runs were only for the pros.

I didn't run when my kids were very young but then I resumed in 2011 when they started school.

This year will mark my 10th consecutive NYC Marathon (18th total!) 🎉

Melissa: How long have you been with the NY Flyers?

Cathy: I have been a NY Flyer for approximately three years. I wasn’t very active at first, but once I joined the SpeedPass and Marathon Training Programs (MTP), I became more involved within the club. I loved MTP so much that I trained for the Providence, Rhode Island Marathon last spring. I will join this winter’s MTP group while training for Nashville for the spring of 2023. MTP has really inspired me to train for marathons throughout the cold winter months. Sometimes, I join the FlyersThursday Night Fun (TNF) gang for a loop with the Run-Walk group.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact. I am a Double-Flyer — A NY Flyer and a Dayton Flyer from my college days, both sharing red as their main color. 

Melissa: Do you belong to any other clubs?

Cathy: I’m a member of the Kidney Donors Athletes (KDA). I donated a kidney to a woman in Georgia in 2019. I don’t know her name, so I gave her the nickname “Peaches!” 🍑

After I donated a kidney, I did not want to break my marathon streak again! So, getting back to running after my surgery made for a good recovery goal.

Melissa: One last question: Do you have any other goals that you would like to share?

Cathy: Yes! My long-term running goal is to stay healthy so I can qualify and run Boston at age 90! 🦄

Melissa: You are very inspiring, Cathy!  It was a pleasure chatting with you.  Wishing you a fantastic 2022 NYC Marathon, and many more to come!

-Cathy Caulfield with Melissa Slobin