Ted Metellus has been named the race director of the TCS New York City Marathon, making him the first Black race director of any of the Abbott World Marathon Majors races.
The announcement from New York Road Runners comes on the heels of large-scale allegations of sexism and racism by current and former employees, first made in the fall of 2020. Jim Heim, the marathon's race director for the past 13 years, along with others in leadership roles, stepped down in January.
"For me in this position, it will shed a tremendous light on the talent that's out there, the ability that is out there, the chance that you may be opening up the doors for [somebody]," said Metellus.
Metellus, 47, is being promoted from vice president of events at NYRR, an organization he has worked with since 2001. He grew up running in New York City.
"Being born and raised in the Bronx, my mom was a maid and my dad was a janitor -- blue collar, hard workers," he said. "Organized sports wasn't something that was available to us, but when I was really young, everybody wanted to be the fastest kid on the block."
In high school, he joined the cross country and track teams, and even though he was one of the slowest members ("It was painful," he said), he loved running, and he loved bringing runners together. That led him to work on organizing large-scale events like Ironman, Rock 'n' Roll Marathons and the NYC Marathon.
"When people ask me, 'How do I get people to join and be a part of my team? How do I invite them in?' I say, 'No, no, no, you don't invite them in, you go to them,'" Metellus said.
Metellus is taking over as race director at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the running industry, causing cancellations of almost all major races worldwide in 2020. NYRR canceled all in-person races from March until the end of September, and the 2020 NYC Marathon was held virtually. This November, the hope is to have a safe in-person marathon with strict COVID-19 guidelines.
"The legacy I'd like to leave behind is for us to have a safe and enjoyable marathon this November -- because I know that's going to be a moment that people look back at, just like in 2001 when we had a marathon two months after 9/11 ... There will be moments in the history of running and even beyond when people will look back and say, 'What happened when...' and 'Who was the director when ..." and what were some of the takeaways from that and how we can use that moving forward."
Metellus hopes that his role helps create new opportunities for others as well.
"At the end of the day, what I would like is not to be the first and last. Who else am I opening up the doors for? When I look at the industry right now, who's going to be the next person and how do I lay the groundwork for them," he said.