Guest post by Alison Feller.
New York is arguably the most diverse city in the world, and the athletes here are no exception. From world-class competitors doing late-night laps around the East River Track to weekend warriors looping Central Park on a Saturday morning, there’s a running, riding, and swimming buddy for everyone in the five boroughs. Here are 15 urban athletes worth following on Strava:
When Lottie Bildirici isn’t training for the Atlantic City 70.3 this September, she’s whipping up veg-friendly dishes for athletes. Think you’ve seen her healthy-but-tasty treats somewhere? Probably on Kara Goucher’s Instagram or Lottie’s increasingly popular blog, runonveg.com. Lottie lived with Goucher in Boulder, CO, leading up to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, making sure the pro runner was fully satiated and veggie-fied for her high-volume training.
“Nothing makes me happier than cooking for athletes,” Lottie says.
Favorite run: Prospect Park
Upper West Side, Manhattan
A day in the life of Sarah Cummings means finishing a 10+ run before 7:30am, followed by 10–11 hours at the office (she works for Black Rock), and a run commute home. Sarah competes for New York Athletic Club and Skechers Performance (yes, like Meb Keflezighi), and insists “it’s never too early or too late to run in New York City.”
Favorite run: All over Central Park
Washington Heights, Manhattan
Cecilia Davis-Hayes isn’t your typical triathlete. She’s adventurous and always on the go, and you’d be hard-pressed to see her repeat a route on Strava. In addition to tris, she competes in running and cycling races with the VeloClassic p/b Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Cycling Team, Central Park Track Club, Columbia University Cycling Team, and the Columbia Triathlon Team. “I’m a triathlete who runs with the runners, rides with the cyclists, and swims with the swimmers,” she says.
Look for her on the podium this year: “I’m going to win the New York City Triathlon and the Amateur World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel this year,” she says. “If I say it with confidence, it’ll happen!” And it wouldn’t be her first time making a podium appearance: Davis-Hayes was the 2015 25–29 Champion at the USAT Age Group National Championships and the 2015 Collegiate National Time Trial Champion, among many other top-finishing results.
Favorite run: The Central Park Bridle Path. “It’s deserted compared to the main loop.”
Favorite ride: Over the George Washington Bridge via River Road to Nyack Beach and Rockland Lake
Jerry Faulkner runs for New York Athletic Club, and he represents the team well: the 2:21 marathoner was second place in the New York City Midnight Half last year and regularly throws down 100–115-mile weeks during marathon training. Faulkner has run 24 marathons, having won three of them, and finished 29th at the 2015 New York City Marathon. (What, like it’s hard?)
Favorite run: Anywhere on the track
She’s a mother, 3:12 marathoner, Ironman, popular blogger (nycrunningmama.com), and running coach. She also works full-time at JP Morgan Chase and is an Army veteran: after graduating from West Point, she was deployed to Iraq three times. Michele’s demanding schedule hasn’t kept her from logging the miles. She regularly runs at 4 a.m., before most of us have woken up, she’s run 18-miles at 7:04 per mile pace and is home in time to make her kids breakfast before commuting into Manhattan for a full day’s work.
Favorite run: Conference House Park to the shoreline “It’s incredibly beautiful to run on trails while having a view of the sun, beach and water.”
Midtown East, Manhattan
You’ve probably seen Candice Huffine’s face in Glamour, Vogue or on the side of an NYC bus. And while she’s famous in high-fashion, the model is relatively new to running, fresh off her first race at the NYC Half Marathon in March. Candice, who trains with November Project NYC (“the best runners and huggers ever,” she says), signed up for the half when her husband Matt Powers bet her she could do it. “I thought he was crazy,” she says. “It was very sneaky and a great inspiration.”
Favorite run: Candice prefers criss-crossing the city streets and zig-zagging across all the bridges. “The views are incredible, and the downhill on the other side is smooth sailing.”
East Harlem, Manhattan
Paul Leak wakes up (really, really early) and doesn’t stop moving all day. He co-leads November Project’s New York City tribe and manages events at the New York Road Runners. That means he’s up before 5 a.m. for November Project’s 5:28 a.m. and 6:28 a.m. twice-weekly workouts and works running events most weekends. But don’t expect to see Paul on the subway: He’s almost always running (literally) from one location to the next. “It’s the only way to experience this city,” he says.
Favorite run: An 8-miler on Central Park’s Bridle Path. “You feel like you’re on trails, but you’re also in the heart of Manhattan.”
As a master instructor at Peloton Cycle, Nicole Meline coaches live-streamed indoor cycling workouts to riders around the world. The “yogi spirit with triathlete grit” lives by the motto, “Namaslay” (that’s a mashup of namaste and slay—so she’s a chilled out chick who also knows how to throw down), and she’s currently training for a summer Ironman. “I love to catalyze athletes to build the kind of strength that inspires ferocity and generosity,” she says. “I’ve made my most powerful decisions drenched in killer beats and sweat. I love enticing athletes to that edge.”
Favorite run or ride: “Whatever includes as many bridges as possible! I like going from Riverside Park down and over the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and back.”
Upper West Side, Manhattan
By day, Keila Merino teaches elementary school in the Bronx. Before and after school, she’s training to set a cross-country world record. Her goal is about 60 days, all while supporting New York Road Runners Mighty Milers, a running program for youth designed to inspire kids to be active and healthy.
To prepare her body to run 50 miles a day, Keila is generally up before 5 a.m. to log 10 miles around Central Park and back at it for another 10-15 miles at 5 p.m. Every day. Follow her journey on Strava and at www.keilamrunstheusa.com.
Favorite run: A 16–18-mile bridge run from Central Park, across the Queensboro, Pulaski Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Brooklyn Bridges and back to the Upper West Side. But she’ll often just run Central Park.
Midtown East, Manhattan
By day, Chris Mosier is a college administrator and triathlon coach for Empire Tri Club. But beyond his 9–5, Mosier is a nationally recognized advocate and trailblazer for transgender athletes. He’s a Hall of Fame triathlete and the first transgender man to make a men’s US National Team. Chris dedicates his free time to creating safer spaces in sports through his work as Executive Director of GO! Athletes, a national network of current and former LGBTQ high school and college athletes, and recently launched a free national mentorship program for LGBTQ athletes. Beyond his athletic prowess and advocacy, Chris is worth following for his strong photo game and GPS art.
Favorite run: Blockhouse Trail Runs in Central Park
Favorite ride: Over the George Washington Bridge and up Route 9W to the Orchards
Seamus Mullen is a chef, author and owner of the award-winning Spanish restaurant Tertulia in Greenwich Village, and he’s just at home on the bike as he is in the kitchen.
Seamus alternates between his road bike and mountain bike, in spite of “being born with the body of a rugby player and the heart of a cyclist.” Think you’ve seen him on his two wheels? “You can’t miss my insanely large quads,” he says.
Favorite ride: Orchard Road on a road bike, and to Blue Mountain Park on a mountain bike
Donalrey Nieva is worth a follow, and 64,000 followers on Instagram agree. The self-described “adventurous, fun, creative, and social” cyclist rides a lot of miles—and they’re all well documented. Nieva is a Specialized ambassador and rides for The 5th Floor, but it’s his photos that have people double-tapping in droves. “I like sharing my experiences in cycling with others, whether it’s through photography or sharing new routes I discover,” Nieva says. Come for the routes, stay for the killer pictures.
Favorite ride: A 57 mile-ride that starts from Peekskill, NY, and ends at Cold Springs, NY. “It’s not a long ride, but there’s a lot of climbing and dirt and gravel along the way.”
Upper West Side, Manhattan
Funny man Eric Rayvid (seriously, he’s good—check out the names for his runs, rides, and swims) is a middle-of-the-pack runner you’re almost guaranteed to see during any New York Road Runners race. As a social media reporter for the group, Rayvid is a familiar face in Central Park: he’s the bald guy with the GoPro. “I shaved my head nine years ago because I sweat a lot when I exercise—and I mean a lot. I decided to shave my head to see if it helped. It didn’t. But I liked it, so I kept it.”
Rayvid also documents his racing and training on his blog, Dirty Old Sneakers. But before he became a familiar face on the running scene, Rayvid was, well, as far from the running scene as possible. The former overweight smoker decided to turn his life around 10 years ago, and has since run more than dozen marathons—cigarettes not included.
Favorite run: Over the George Washington Bridge and onto River Road
Red Hook, Brooklyn
In 2008 David Trimble decided to throw himself an unconventional birthday party—in the form of a criterium bike race. Now, the former birthday party is a full-blown event—the Red Hook Criterium, of which Trimble is the race director—that takes place in four cities – Brooklyn, London, Barcelona, and Milano. Trimble claims he’s “not much of an athlete” (we beg to differ) but “knows everybody.” And though he may have started cycling because he didn’t like team sports, he’s become a force in the cycling community by bringing together hoards of eager competitors at his events. As for how he’d describe himself? “I usually make everything as difficult as possible,” he says.
Favorite ride: Brooklyn to Beacon
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
As the coach and founder of Girls Run NYC, the co-founder of Black Roses NYC, and the co-founder of Bkfast Club, it’s safe to say Jessie Zapo is a popular person in NYC. “I’ve been running and cycling for more than 10 years in this city, so I’m in the street a lot,” she says. “Chances are, you’re going to run into me out there. I’m also notorious for starting run clubs.” Jessie is a force in NYC’s urban running community—so it’s no surprise she’s been dubbed “The First Lady of Running.”
Favorite run: Going long from Brooklyn to Rockaway Beach in Queens