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Ali on the Run Show

Sep 23, 2021

“Everybody who has ever run a marathon in the history of ever has run a first marathon. And I guarantee you that some of the concerns and doubts and fears that you or I had in our first marathon have crept into the minds of someone like Shalane Flanagan or Meb Keflezighi in the weeks and days and hours before they ran their first marathon.”

Every year at races like the New York City Marathon and the Fifth Avenue Mile, dozens of professional runners assemble for their shot at glory. And in New York City, Sam Grotewold is the guy who brings them all together. As the director of professional athletes for New York Road Runners, it’s Sam’s job to recruit the professional fields at major events like the TCS New York City Marathon, the New York City Half, the Mini 10K, and the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile. And on this episode, the self-proclaimed “running and track nerd” explains how he makes that happen. With more than 20 years of experience, Sam knows the wooing process well. Here, he shares his goals for the recruitment process, how he measures success in his role, and how this year’s New York City Marathon field (which features professional runners from 25 countries and territories) came together. Plus, he shares some of his best stories from his time with the pros, and tells which athlete he reached out to first as he was assembling this year’s NYCM field.

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • All about Sam’s role in the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile (5:30)
  • On getting the athletes to the start line (19:00)
  • How Sam got his job (21:30)
  • How Sam assembles the fields of professional athletes (29:40)
  • The narrative for this year’s TCS New York City Marathon (33:45)
  • Sam’s process for recruiting athletes (39:00)
  • Sam’s favorite thing about New York City Marathon week (46:15)
  • What goes into the contracts for professional athletes (48:50)
  • On schmoozing, socializing, and spreadsheets (51:20)
  • What New York City Marathon day is like for Sam — plus some of his best race day stories! (56:00)
  • Reflecting on the past year and a half at New York Road Runners (1:08:00)

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