Star of Queens: Maria Romano, volunteer running coach, New York Road Runners



BACKGROUND: Maria Romano, 56, was born in Brooklyn but has been living in Jamaica off and on since she was 16. She likes that Jamaica is a diverse neighborhood and that there are several parks offering good spots to run. She started running in the fall of 2009 and two years ago, she founded the Quick Silver Striders, a running club in Jamaica.

OCCUPATION: Romano works part time as a community service coach for New York Road Runners. She teaches walking and physical fitness to seniors.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Romano is a volunteer running coach with the Young Runners program of New York Road Runners. Through this program, she volunteers at P.S. 34, an elementary school in Queens Village, and at I.S. 223, a middle school in Brooklyn. She trains children on running techniques. It is important to know how to run, said Romano, because it works your heart and you live a better, healthier life. She also stresses the importance of healthy eating, thereby combating childhood obesity. Romano noticed that children in her program not only become faster runners, but also become more health conscious.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “My one achievement is that I founded Quick Silver Striders with 20 people two years ago. Today, we have 85 members,” Romano said. “One of my team members is this 47-year-old man, who ran in the New York City marathon. It was his first marathon but he qualified for Boston.” She adds, “The NYRR host 12 team point races throughout the year. Adding all the points, my team ranked No. 9 out of 100 teams in 2014. When it comes to kids, whenever I can get them to go to running camp, it is an achievement.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Romano said that many people come to her because they want to run, but getting them off the couch when it is really cold outside is a challenge. She faces this challenge only with new runners; seasoned runners know how to keep warm while running in winter.

INSPIRATION: “My students inspire me because the more they do, the more they enjoy living the lifestyle of running.”