NYC Marathon ‘Ultimate Distance’ For Verona Runner

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Dave Lukas at the finish line.
Dave Lukas at the finish line.
Dave Lukas ran track all four years at Verona High School and cross country three of those years. He ran cross country over the hills at SUNY New Paltz and was named second-team all conference in his senior year for his efforts. But since he graduated, there has been one big race calling his name: the New York City Marathon.

“I’ve always been interested in it,” Lukas says. “It’s the ultimate distance.” It also may be the ultimate family history lesson. “My mother is Greek,” he says, “so I felt a tie to that as well.”

And that’s why, for the past three months, Lukas has been working a day job in Manhattan, serving as a volunteer coach for the Verona Recreation Department‘s cross country team and training for the Marathon. That meant running 70 miles a week, which came rather naturally to someone who had been running 90 to 100 miles a week in college. If you saw someone putting on the miles in Eagle Rock Reservation or Verona Park, or winding through the hills of Verona, that was probably Lukas. But with his longest single run at 21 miles, a 26.2-mile marathon might still be a stretch. Lukas’ goal was not only to finish the race, but to do so in less than three hours.

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Lukas’ college record meant that he was fortunate enough to have an early start time, just a minute behind the professional runners. He was close enough to the start on the Verrazano Narrows that he could hear the opening ceremony. “It’s a very emotional thing,” he says.

And the race? “It’s an experience more than a race,” Lukas says. “The streets were lined with people cheering us on.” The cheerleaders included his parents, Jim and Stella Lukas, and older brother Mike. (His younger brother Nick, who ran the Marathon two years ago, was away at college.) “They were there at mile 16 by the Queensboro bridge and again at mile 25,” he says. “Seeing them at mile 25, when I was in shambles, that carried me through.”

Dave Lukas did finish the race and did so in a time of 2:58:24, earning him 653rd place in a field of 50,229 runners.

Chances are good that we’ll be seeing more marathon runs from Dave Lukas in the future. As he nurses a few sore muscles now, he admits that he’s formed a track club with some college friends and they’re going to be training in Central Park to run as a club in the future.

“I’m definitely hooked on this distance,” he says.

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If you want to run the Marathon vicariously, check out this video from the race’s organizers.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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