Nov 12, 2015 | Erin Spaulding, Achilles CT Chapter President

In the early hours of Sunday, November 1st, 7 Achilles CT athletes (and 1 honorary) and 8 guides arrived in Staten Island to embark on a journey that would take them on foot through the five boroughs of New York City; or as guide Chris Love called it, “a 26.2 mile block party!”
The CT Chapter started planning for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon back in March.  The first call for athletes led to 10 coming forward to begin training.  Guides were recruited, logistics were planned, and goals were established.  Injuries sidelined some; others pushed through and kept their dream alive.   Personal records were shattered on race day; medals were hung around necks as tears were shed.  Families cheered along the way and celebrated together at the finish line!
In order of their finish times, here’s each Connecticut athletes’ and guides’ inspiring story of success in the NYC Marathon:
  • Krys Zybowski finished his third marathon in less than a month in 1:29:43, taking 5th place male in the hand cycle division (out of 72 men) and adding another PR in his quest to qualify for Boston 2016.  This year, his wife and all 3 kids were at the finish chanting “good job daddy!”  Up next for him is the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 22nd!  Good luck Krys… we will be cheering you on from CT!  You have proven what a world-class athlete you are!!

  • Tom Stearley shaved an impressive 31 minutes off his time from last year and finished his 2nd NYC Marathon in 1:57:28!!!  He enjoyed the friendly competition from NYC hand cyclists Romel Palis, Ricardo Corral, and Carlos Guzman; all had fun re-hashing the race in the Achilles reunion area!  Tom was greeted by friends at the finish line and planned a well-deserved post-race brunch!  “Amazing day, awesome people,” were Tom’s post-race words!

  • Mike Loura finished his race in 3:11:08, and celebrated his return to NYCM with a large group of family and friends in the reunion area!  Mike was excited not to be sidelined by a hurricane or a hand cycle wait list as he was in the past, and was all smiles coming across the finish line!  Awesome job Mike…you should be proud of all that you have accomplished!

  • Alexia Boukoms came across the finish line in her hand cycle on the heels of Tom in 3:12:11, completing her 3rd NYC marathon with her son, daughter and other family members cheering her on.  Alexia also shared street time with Meb Keflezighi, as evidenced in the NYRR video of the marathon of him running by her!  Alexia, fresh off the Hartford Marathon like Tom & Krys, represented female hand cyclists in a small field of 9 (vs. the men who had a field of 77!)  Way to go Alexia!!

  • Rob DeLuca, along with guides Olivier Chedemail and Michael Lo Presti, finished his 3rd NYCM in 5:06:29…11 minutes faster than his time last year!  Wife Anja was there to drink his celebratory post-race beer with him!  Both Michael and Olivier were first-time guides in NYCM.  Both accomplished marathoners, Michael celebrated his 50th lifetime marathon with his wife Sara and daughters Becca and Abby at the finish line.  Congratulations to Michael!  Olivier, who is Rob’s co-worker from France, flew with his family from France for a vacation…and a marathon!  Olivier, around mile 6, asked Rob if the crowd was going to be cheering for Achilles (like that) the while way.  When Rob replied, “Yes!” Olivier said, “then I’ll be smiling for 5 hours!”

  • Adam Fleisher finished his first marathon (as in first, EVER!) in 5:17:33 with guides Peter Lamothe and Chris Love by his side.  It was also Chris’ first NYC Marathon and he soaked in the NYCM/Achilles experience all weekend, joined by daughter Bridget at the finish line!  Peter, who has run NYCM several times on his own, was an invaluable resource to Team Adam!  This was Peter’s first time guiding an Achilles athlete as he joined the Chapter earlier this year! “It was great to run with Adam and Chris and to support one another along the race course… overall an incredible experience with Achilles!”   Congratulations Adam…you have earned a new nickname:  “The Bionic Marathoner!”

  • Tracy Andrews became a first-time marathoner in New York, crossing NYCM off her bucket list!  Tracy, plagued by painful plantar fasciitis for the last part of her training, persevered through 26.2 miles to finish in 6:10:53 with her cousin Nina Purslow (also a first-time marathoner fulfilling her dream) and Kristin Huntington guiding her to what was a life-changing day for all on Team Tracy! Kristin, who has run NYCM 3 times on her own, summed up the day perfectly. “Running by Tracy’s side for 26.2 miles and watching her find the strength within to accomplish her marathon dream is something that will stay with me forever.  This experience summarizes what we are capable of when we believe in ourselves and add dedication and determination to it.   What an epic day for all of the athletes.”

  • Honorary Achilles CT athlete Rick Asselta (who lives in Puerto Rico and CT) finished his marathon in his hand cycle in 5:41:13.  Achilles CT guide Jon Romeo accompanied him.  Rick was an integral part of getting the CT Chapter started back in the ‘90’s, and was featured in the blog about the History of the CT Chapter.

  • Out of the NYCM due to injury but not forgotten by the Team:  Julie Aresco, Dana Albrycht (with sibling guides Cory Albrycht and Ashly Nokelainen), and Tony Allegretti (whose bib was given to another hand cyclist which made it look like he did finished his 5th NYCM! J)
  • Other members of Achilles CT in the marathon included Kim Marchand (3:23:21), Jeanne Corey (3:41:03) Mike Feinberg (4:29:40), and Mena Shehata (4:30:01).  Mike ran and raised money for Achilles…wearing his CT Chapter hat with pride!  Thanks Mike for making a difference while running a marathon! Congratulations to all of our members!
The NYC Marathon is truly unlike any other event, and the energy that pulsates throughout New York City is indescribable.  I worked a shift at the Expo on Friday, covering the Achilles table and checking in the athletes and guides at packet pickup.  I was able to share in pre-race excitement with Mike Loura and his wife Sue, and Adam Fleisher and Chris Love!  I met athletes from all over the world, including the legendary Bill Reilly and his team of guides (who is excited that our own Harry McKinstry has a new racing chair like his!!)  Harry WILL be at the starting line with Bill next year!
On race day, Roberta Brown and her husband Dan volunteered with me in the Achilles Family Reunion Area.  We were able to personally congratulate all of our CT Team after they finished and meet their proud families!  We also helped out hundreds of athletes and guides that day….294 athletes with disabilities and 330 guides came across the finish line and needed a foil wrap, a cup of hot chocolate, their checked baggage, or a celebratory hug!  Congratulations to all of the Achilles athletes and guides who were part of the Magic of Achilles at the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon, and thank you to the volunteers and Achilles staff who made the day possible!
Written by:
Erin Spaulding, Achilles CT Chapter President