NEW YORK — As 50,000 runners rest up for Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon, Sid Howard is getting ready for one of his most important jobs all year — cheering on marathoners.
For the last 16 years, Coach Sid, as everyone knows him, has been a welcome and loving fixture during the race from a specific spot in Harlem. He is a longtime coach for Team for Kids, a New York Road Runners charity, and Senior Striders, a local program.
Runners from across the world who’ve traversed the 26.2-mile course know to look for Coach Sid at mile 22 for a dance, a hug, or reassurance. But what they may not know is his dramatic backstory as outlined in his autobiography: “God Gave Me What I Needed Not What I Wanted.” It is a story of growing up in poverty so extreme in Elizabeth, New Jersey, that his family did not have a gas stove or a phone, becoming a champion runner in high school, a stint in the Air Force, wrongful imprisonment and then exoneration, the death of a first wife, but also a second life partner who shares his love of running and people all over the world who have been helped by him.
NABJ Black News & Views contributor Chimene A. Williams reports.