Raymond Choy, 71, of Elmhurst is preparing to run in his 24th straight New York City Marathon on Nov. 6. If he’s once again able to finish the marathon, this won’t be his last.
After a construction accident in 1993 left Choy badly injured, he spent the next two years relearning how to walk. After he completed his long rehab, Choy ended up joining the Achilles Track Club. Despite his busy schedule usually preventing him from running with them on Saturdays at Central Park, he’d frequently run there on Sunday evenings. While he didn’t have any previous experience, he ended up enjoying it immensely and, with the assistance of support runners, became very good at it.
According to Choy, in 1997 the Achilles Track Club asked its members if anyone was interested in participating in the upcoming NYC Marathon. Choy jumped at the chance. While he certainly felt exhausted after finishing the marathon, he said the eagerness to do it again came to him just a few days later. Since then, he has taken part in and finished the NYC Marathon each year.
“This is something I’d like to continue doing,” Choy said. “It’s nice that my kids and grandkids get to say their dad or grandfather runs in the marathon every year. I’ve always been able to get myself up at 3:00 a.m. and on the bus to Staten Island for the start of the marathon.”
Choy says he spends around seven months training for the marathon. He’d then take a rest period right after the marathon in November until around February. He used to keep in shape by biking to work in Manhattan before he stopped doing so after getting struck and injured by a vehicle. He still spends every weekend running in Central Park with the Achilles Track Club. While he admits to not being the most skilled runner at these marathons, he credits his determination to other runners for helping him cross the finish line each year.
“I like to think I do it more in heart than ability,” Choy said. “Hearing the roar of the crowd near the end of the marathon is quite the experience. It’s something to keep me focused on. I have no intention of quitting any time soon. I’m going to keep going as long as I’m able to.”
While the construction accident in 1993 has left Choy permanently partially disabled, he hasn’t stopped that from preventing him from achieving this monumental feat in consistency. He credits the Achilles Track Club for helping him to get there. He also hopes to be an inspiration for others suffering from disabilities who wish to be physically active.
“Believe in yourself,” Choy said. “You’re stronger than you think you are. Each step is one step further into the race and one step closer to the finish line. You just have to put your heart into it.”
In addition to participating in the New York City Marathon, Choy has also ran in 10K races and the NYC Triathlon. He took part in Alaska’s Anchorage Half-Marathon in 2019. Additionally, he has spent almost every June over the last 20 years taking part in the Achilles Track Club’s Hope and Possibility Race.