Facing concerns about racism and bias, N.Y. marathon CEO Michael Capiraso steps down

NEW YORK -- The chief executive officer of the New York Road Runners, the group that organizes the New York City Marathon, is stepping down, and new leadership will be sought amid concerns about racism and other biases in the organization.

Michael Capiraso, who has been at the helm for five years, will step down on Dec. 31, the club said in a statement issued Monday.

"In order to achieve our mission to help and inspire people through running, we will recruit new leadership to the organization," said George Hirsch, chairman of the board.

The statement said the board "listened to the concerns raised and recommendations offered by the community NYRR serves, including its employees and members of the broader running community."

Earlier this year, a group that said it was made up of former and current NYRR employees started an online petition, saying: "For years, we have been experiencing racism, bias, and bullying that goes unchecked."

The petition called for Capiraso's resignation, among other steps, including an audit to take a look at pay equity gaps.

Capiraso said he was "grateful" for the opportunity to lead the organization in the NYRR statement, which thanked him for his years of service.

"I understand what the board is saying, that they are making a decision after having listened to people," Capiraso said in an interview with The New York Times.

The move was "unexpected great news," Steve Mura, the NYRR manager of runner training and education, told the newspaper. "This is one of the first major things that they have done to prove that they are listening."

Kerin Hempel will take over as interim CEO while the organization searches for a permanent leader.