Imagine running completely around the globe.
Now imagine trying to accomplish that feat three times!
Well, Christ the King R.H.S., Middle Village, social studies and English teacher Paul Salerni has run nearly 70,000 miles in his lifetime, which is far enough for nearly three complete rotations around Planet Earth.
On Monday, April 20, Salerni added 26.2 more miles to his log after completing the Boston Marathon. Though he admitted that the conditions were the worst he’d ever run in, the wet and rainy weather was not enough to stop him from finishing the 45th marathon of his running career.
Originally from St. Andrew Avellino parish, Flushing, Salerni developed a passion for running at a young age and competed on his junior high school and high school track teams. He continued his passion at Queens College, Flushing, but then decided to take a break from the sport.
About 12 years later in 1992, upon his arrival at Christ the King, Salerni’s colleague Ross Donoghue, who had run a sub-four-minute mile at Villanova University, Pa., encouraged him to train as part of the school’s Corporate Challenge team, in which companies compete against one another in a race.
Though it’s a rather low-key event, Salerni took this as an opportunity to get back involved with the sport he loved.
“It’s amazing that I’ve kept with it,” he said. “It surprises me too. I’ve been very fortunate as far as injuries go. I’m very careful. I make sure I don’t overdo it, and I cross train two or three times per week.”
The Prestige of Boston
In 1974, Salerni had run his first marathon – the Earth Day Marathon at Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, L.I. – when he was still in high school. But once he re-established himself as a competitive runner, he set his sights on the most prestigious race there is: the Boston Marathon.
While he is a lifelong New Yorker and has run every New York City Marathon since 2001, he said there’s just something about Boston that sets it apart from other races.
“Boston is such a big day for a runner,” he said. “It’s the oldest race. It’s the most prestigious. It has so much history on the course. I compare it to Yankee Stadium. The course is over 100 years old. You just feel like you’re running on real historic grounds.”
Two years ago, Salerni had crossed the finish line about 50 minutes before the tragic events that occurred that day. He was safely in his car and already on his way back home, but he still said it was a complete shock to him.
Security was ramped up the past two years, but it was not disruptive, as Salerni said. The history of the race has now taken on another meaning, since runners all over the world want to prove they aren’t afraid of extremist action.
Passion for Environment
For this year’s race, Salerni raised $2,500 for the Hale Reservation, an organization that educates youngsters about nature and makes them aware about environmental concerns. The cause is close to his heart, since he considers himself an environmentalist and enjoys the outdoors, especially his time spent upstate.
Over the past 40 years – virtually the same time that Salerni has been an avid runner – half of the world’s wildlife has been lost, and over five trillion pieces of plastic have wound up in the ocean, as Salerni found in his research.
“I think the next generation has got to become more environmentally aware, because the amount of pollution that’s out there and the environmental degradation … it’s just mind-boggling,” he said.
The fundraising campaign is ongoing. You canvisit his page at www.razoo.com/story/Paul-Salerni.
With another Boston Marathon complete, especially a rather challenging one, Salerni said he would enjoy some rest over the next few weeks. However, slowly but surely he’ll get back out there running – starting with weekend jogs and picking up the intensity as the calendar shifts to summer and fall.
He’s already registered for this year’s New York City Marathon, and a strong time will qualify him once again for Boston.
“I’ve just gone strong for over 20 years now, and I can’t see myself stopping at this point,” he said.
And why stop now, as a third revolution around the globe is nearly complete!
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.