“Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.” —Oprah Winfrey
That quote seems to echo Kevin Montalvo’s mantra. “Running is what changed my life,” said the Jackson Heights native.
Leading the charge as the founder and CEO of Queens Distance Runners, Montalvo (whose code name is “El Capitano”), has devoted his time and energy helping to motivate others to achieve their personal best by joining his team. With close to 250 members, the club helps athletes improve their distance running through training focused on routes in the borough. Membership is free of charge.
There has been a New York City Marathon for years and now, thanks to Montalvo’s dedication, there is a Queens Marathon, dubbed “The World’s Marathon,” to reflect the borough’s cultural diversity. The Inaugural Queens Marathon took place at Flushing Meadows Corona Park April 30.
The Queens Marathon is a Boston Qualifier course that features five loops of the Flushing Meadows park. Montalvo says that his vision is to eventually bring this marathon to the borough’s streets.
Montalvo first got his inspiration from the 2010 New York Marathon.
“I took a leap of faith and signed up for the first race I could find on the NYRR calendar, and it happened to be the 60K,” he said. “That day in Central Park would be all the experience I needed to know that I had found my passion.”
Just two years later, he finished the same 60k in eighth place and was making plans to create a team centered on Queens. Montalvo could not wait to bring recreational running events to his beloved borough and start a competitive running team.
“Seeing each and every one of our teammates running, volunteering, making new connections with potential members to join our team and having fun is all the motivation I need,” he said. Introducing fun events in Queens is high on QDR’s agenda.
“Our goal is to bring races featuring our local businesses, taking place in Astoria, Flushing Meadows, Alley Pond, Forest Park,” he said. “Our running team is as diverse as our great borough.”
QDR stages group runs as well as official timed races throughout Queens. Montalvo also runs a toy drive for the Queens Center for Progress, a group helping children with disabilities, during the Christmas season.
In addition to Montalvo’s efforts for QDR, he works with the Runner Services Team for the New York Road Runners and is the track and field coach for the Chapin School on the Upper East Side.
“Running is a free activity, it has no boundaries, and the support we have received has been tremendous,” Montalvo said. “We hope this trend continues and we can one day call many Queens residents a ‘Queens Distance Runner.’”