Harlem Run Spotlight: SEAN

For this week's blog, we are happy to share SEAN'S unique story about running and how he ended up at Harlem Run. Sean was introduced to the group by a friend and after coming out to a few runs and social events, he knew he had found his crew. Sean is now a Harlem Run regular and does a great job of welcoming newcomers and making everyone feel at home. Among the group, he is known for his enthusiasm, loud cheering, and his tendency to run shirtless through the streets of Harlem. If you've come out to a run before, you know that Sean is a staple here and someone we could not do without! Here is what he had to say about the group.

I have been running on and off since I joined the Army in 1999, so group runs were never particularly fun for me.  My friend Suny, who introduced me to Harlem Run, knows I like to run and over the years, we have talked about various "running topics" such as: breathing, shoes, music aka power songs strides, and trails.  Over the past four years, I got really into trail running. I loved the trees, roots, streams, and critters that I would encounter and the views were always amazing. So when I returned to NYC after living abroad, I decided to take Suny's advice and come visit Harlem Run. Since I live in the Bronx, the idea seemed a little bizarre to me, but I told myself that I would do it for two weeks. I said to myself, Why not? I can try it and its free and if I don’t like it I can go back to running my old routes.

Monday came, and I was early. Suny saw me get off the train, we chatted, and then I met the group and before I knew it, boom we were off.  Everything went well, we took a bunch of photos, and stopped at lights. It was all new to me and the atmosphere felt different from any other runs I've had. The next day, my knees were in pain from running on the concrete, but I knew I still wanted to go back next Monday.  Next week came... the sun was out and my shirt was off. No one really said anything and I was comfortable.  At the end of the run, Alison came to me and said ”Thanks for running topless, I love it”, and gave me a big sweaty hug.  I was hooked right there and until the temperature drops, no more shirts!!

Coming back to NYC after leaving in 2009 was an adventure in itself. Previous friends and family are no longer around, so every week I meet more people and grow new friendships at Harlem Run.  Now I think 99% of my friends are runners. Every group is different and coming here has helped me realize that home is HARLEM RUN for me.  

Of course the captains are always fun and welcoming, but the community is what makes it for me. People in the neighborhood support us, cheer us on, ask us why we run, ask us how they can find us or purchase a shirt, take a selfie with us, come dance in the cheer tunnel, and so on. Every week, new and old runners come back, and man, it is different every week!  I continue to meet and greet so many positive people. This is something I could not do on my own running in the Bronx while listening to music. I now enjoy... nah, I love group runs. I rarely run alone, all I have to do is call a Harlem Run friend and say "Hey, what’s going on today? Are you down for a run, bike, or the gym?” Usually, it’s a yes and even if it’s a no, hey we still hang out and its great. We all have different lives and meet up when we can with a smile and hug (t-shirt is an optional).