Some friends bond by chatting for hours over coffee – an ideal get-together that helps most people unwind. For Canarsie residents Marva Joseph and Marie Young, their unique friendship is about the motivation they share when they lace up their kicks, hit the pavement and train for races, including a marathon – 26.2 miles – whether it’s in New York City or another country!
The inspiring duo recently conquered the Berlin Marathon as part of the “Abbott World Marathon Majors Six-Star Finishers” and spoke to the Canarsie Courier about their exciting journey – which began right here in the community. The two met at the Hebrew Educational Society in 2015 at their weekly yoga and strength training classes. The group setting connected their energies and fused their friendship.
Joseph and Young, dubbed the “Canarsie Duo,” are Volunteer Captains with NYRR Open Run, a free weekly community-based, fun-run and walk program hosted every Saturday at Canarsie Park. Their running journey started locally with walking, then led to jogging and running. They decided to volunteer at 2017’s TCS New York City Marathon, which they heard about through Open Run. The race changed their lives as they doled out refreshments and cheered on runners, inspired by the display of humanity with people from all walks of life coming together.
They were so inspired that they both said, “We needed to be a part of the ‘biggest block party’ in NYC” and decided to run the NYC Marathon in 2018. Subsequently, they began training and pushing each other to reach long-distance goals. Continuously motivated by the physical and mental health benefits of running, they crushed 30-plus miles per week along the Belt Parkway greenway from Brooklyn to Queens and back – among many other running routes. Soon they competed in half-marathons. Finally, they put their feet to the fire and made their own history at the NYC Marathon.
At a marathon expo, they learned about the “Abbott World Marathon Majors Six-Star Finishers,” a program that debuted in 2016 and includes marathons in New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. Athletes who complete these marathons receive a phenomenal Six-Star medal and are inducted into the program’s Hall of Fame. There’s no time limit to complete these marathons, but they are aiming to obtain the title within two years as their applications in each of the race lotteries are accepted.
They chose to start their journey to this global achievement by entering the lottery for the September 25th Berlin Marathon – their first international race. They met up with friends and joined athletes from other New York running groups, including Team Lean Strong Fast.
Berlin was not as challenging or as tense for time as New York City’s race but the thrill and excitement of hearing spectators cheering was truly encouraging. Another honor was having a prestigious medal bestowed on them, as the image of the world’s fastest marathoner Eliud Kipchoge is engraved on its silver plate.
Young, 53, and Joseph, 58, said their fitness levels surpass their youthful years. They’re in better shape now than decades ago. The team also has more time to allocate to self-care.
“A great time to be a runner, an athlete, to get in shape, or try something new, is when your children are grown and you don’t have many responsibilities,” they both agreed.
They also tout accountability and support from each other – especially on days they don’t feel like getting out there – as an essential factor in reaching their accomplishments. Having a workout partner helps boost stamina and keeps each other focused no matter the distance.
What’s on the race roster when Joseph and Young achieve the Six-Star status? The power duo plans to participate in out-of-state races and even hop on cruises where they can make stops to run on different islands. “You have to be consistent with your running,” they express to participants at Open Run who want to follow in their fitness path.
In addition to being marathoners, they’re also cyclists, having completed the 2022 TD Bank Five Borough Bike Tour, where 32,000 cyclists trek the 40-mile route.
Wherever their fitness journey takes them, their consistency, tenacity and encouragement are a testament to the message that any feat can be accomplished – right here in our community or thousands of miles away!