Many runners will represent the borough in the upcoming TCS New York City Marathon, but one has found a unique way to do so.
Katie Zottola, of Silver Beach, will be competing to make her hometown proud in a unique way: the Foot Locker Challenge, a contest that pits a runner from each borough in competition to see who can finish the 26.2 miles in the fastest time.
The challenge is within the larger TCS New York City Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, November 5 and runs through all five boroughs.
Challenge participants will have their own start time an hour before the rest of the runners, she said.
The group of five will run together for the first half of the marathon and then after the midway point start competing, said Zottola.
“I was born and raised in the Bronx, (and) it is a special place to me,” said Zottola about representing the borough in the Foot Locker Challenge.
She is running for more than just bragging rights for her home borough.
The marathoner said she was encouraged by both her sister and the memory of a friend to take up the Foot Locker Challenge.
Zottola, who has been running since she was in high school, said she is competing to remember her best friend and roommate Margaret, a frequent running partner, who passed away in a car accident in 2011.
She and Margaret always dreamed of running the New York City Marathon together, she said, adding that after her friend’s passing, her “passion for running intensified and had a deeper meaning.”
“It became a time for me to reflect on the valuable memories we shared, and a way to keep Margaret’s memory alive,” said Zottola.
Zottola added: “I hope that this opportunity empowers others to chose healthy alternative, such as running, to cope with tragedies and overcome obstacles in their lives.”
The marathoner said running helps her cope with stress.
She believes running is a way to choose a healthy lifestyle at very little cost, noting that all the sport requires is decent sneakers.
Zottola is a neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse at Montefiore, and the mother of two small boys, a three-year-old and a 20 month old.
She said she finds time to run because her parents Kathy and Frank Martinucci, who also live Silver Beach, are willing babysitters three or four times per week.
She would like to give her husband, Sal Zottola, credit for picking up responsibilities at home and with their children.
“Because of that, I am able to dedicate a couple of hours per day to training for the NYC marathon,” stated Zottola. “Without his dedication and selflessness, I would not be as prepared for this race as I feel that I am.”
In order to prepare, she is training with Bill Rueger, SUNY Maritime’s cross country head coach.
Rueger said that the experience of working with Zottola is one of the most rewarding of his career.
“I am honored to be working with such a focused and dedicated runner,” said Rueger, adding that she doesn’t miss practice and balances being a marathoner with being an extraordinary wife and mother.