Kew Gardens resident Wan Park, a teacher in the Bronx, will be running in the upcoming New York City Marathon on Nov. 5. This will mark his second marathon in the span of four weeks, having just ran one in Chicago on Oct. 8.
This will also mark the fourth New York City Marathon in which he will run, having previously participated in 2005, 2010 and 2011.
Park’s interest in running dates back to 1990, shortly after he moved to the United States from Korea at the age of 14. At the time, he was still working on trying to learn English. While he initially wanted to play for his school’s soccer team, he had too much trouble communicating, so he switched to running for the cross country and track teams. It was there that he found solace, building relationships with his teammates.
“I immediately found friends who were interested in the same stuff [as me] and a coach who really helped me get adjusted to this country,” Park said.
In 1999, Park ran in his first full marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, FL. In total, he has ran in 12 marathons, one trail marathon and four trail ultramarathons, including the three New York City Marathons.
Park often brings his hobby for running to his job as a math teacher at the Community School for Social Justice in the Bronx. He will often integrate running analogies into math problems. He’s also been able to share his hobby with his colleagues, often running together with some of them.
Park was granted approval to run in the marathon by Tata Consultancy Services, an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization. He will be running as part of Tata Consultancy Services’ Teachers program, for which the organization selected 50 teachers across North America to take part in the marathon.
In addition to Park, another teacher at the Community School for Social Justice, John Garvey, was also selected for this program. According to Park, Garvey has grown immensely in skill since the two started running together approximately 10 years ago. He even thinks Garvey may be faster than him at this point.
“As far as I can tell, John is the only one who has done all five borough perimeter runs,” Park said. “He’s run around the perimeters of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens Staten Island and the Bronx. He just excels in long distance.”
According to Park, this will mark the second time that he will run in two marathons within the span of four weeks.
Despite dealing with high hamstring tendonitis in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 8 marathon in Chicago, Park was still able to complete it in about three hours and 15 minutes. In preparation of competing in a second marathon within the span of a month, he and Garvey have been following a multiple marathon training program from accomplished runner Hal Higdon. Some of the suggested training strategies include planning a schedule early, not ignoring rest, trying shorter events, not running all marathons hard and taking time to prepare.
With the school they teach at having recently held a field day, Park and Garvey were able to get some training in as they worked. They were both responsible for running around the perimeter of the school’s fields to make sure students were not going beyond that point. As they got their running in, they were joined for a lap by several of the kids at the school.
“New York City becomes a huge party for runners [during the marathon],” Park said. “This is when we celebrate our own training, but also New York City being one of the main cities in the world to offer this.”