Salem Radio Network News Friday, December 9, 2022

Sports

Athletics-NYRR names former ESPN executive Simmelkjaer as CEO

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Road Runners (NYRR) has named former ESPN executive Rob Simmelkjaer as its new CEO, as the organisation looks to steer its marquee New York City Marathon back to pre-pandemic levels.

Simmelkjaer, a native New Yorker who anchored MSNBC’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic coverage during his broadcast career, will take over after the five-borough marathon runs on Nov. 6 at full capacity for the first time since the pandemic began.

He plans to make mental health a priority in the organisation’s agenda.

“We have so much fallout that’s come from the pandemic and all the ripple effects of it that we’re seeing in both adults and especially children right now,” Simmelkjaer told Reuters.

“Running can be a big, big part of helping us get our nation’s mental health back to where it should be and can be.”

While the New York City Marathon is already the world’s largest, Simmelkjaer said a top priority will be developing “new and innovative ways” to reach first-time runners through content creation and social media.

“Finding a way to make sure we’re speaking to both our current audience and the audiences we would like to reach and the people we’d like to get to throw on some running shoes and take that first jog – I think that’s going to be a big part of my job,” he said.

Simmelkjaer, named by civil rights group the NAACP in 2021 as one of Connecticut’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans,

steps into the role in a sport where the key decision-makers have historically been overwhelmingly white.

It was only last year that Ted Metellus became the first Black race director of any of the world marathon majors, when NYRR put him in charge of the New York City race.

“My role as the day-to-day leader of the organization is going to be to make sure that diversity and equity and inclusion are one of the North stars (of) this organization,” said Simmelkjaer.

His appointment comes two years after the departure of former CEO Michael Capiraso, who left amid accusations from current and former employees of sexism and racism.

“That’s hopefully kind of the last step toward turning the page from that period in Road Runners history,” said Simmelkjaer who takes over from interim leader Kerin Hempel.

“And now, turning around and being authentic and creating new initiatives that will be part of Road Runner’s identity for the rest of the 21st century.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)

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