Rikers Run Start: July 21, 1979

Photo of the 1st Rikers Romp finish line by then DOC photographer Mark Mellett prior to the race. Donated by him to NYCHS. White text has been superimposed for caption purposes.

June 1979 DOC newsletter carried '1st Rikers Romp' details in a story on three runners training for it.

Left to righ: CO Walter Enczelewski of ARDC, Susan Aaronson of the Personnel Office, and CO George Whaley of ARDC get in condition for the First Annual "Rikers Romp," a mini-marathon for Department of Correction employees on July 21.

[The notice below was inserted in story on runners training.]

Register now with your institutional registrar for the 1st annual Rikers Romp. a 10,000 meter race to be held on July 21. Registration, $5.00. Special tee shirts, running numbers, winning trophies, and refreshments. Course approved by The New York Road Runners Club. For additional information, call Sandra Lewis Smith, 374-4389. Run for fun or run to win.

"I know what it feels like to be in a ticker tape parade, to feel like somebody important, even for a day," said CO Walter Enczelewski about marathon running. An 8-year wheel officer at ARDC, who manages to run 50-60 miles a week and go to school, Enczelewski decided 4 years ago to start running. . . Two weeks ago, he ran the Long Island Marathon and finished in 3:54. . . .

"Salt," as he is fondly known by fellow officers, wants to qualify for the next Boston Marathon and run with his partner "Pepper," CO George Whaley, a wheel officer at ARDC for 9 years. George, who finds time to run between 55-75 miles a week, began running 3 years ago . . . His first race was the Police Olympics in Rochester. . . .

Susan Aaronson, a bright, energetic staff analyst, who works in Personnel, qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon. A former dancer, Susan has been running for six years. Advised by her dancing teacher that exercise would improve her jumps, she chose running. . . .She entered the NYC Marathon. . . . Susan finished among the top sixty women with a 3:58.

[The poster, right, was drawn by then CO Jimmy Vann who has donated it to NYCHS. Discoloration is from dried glue.]

[Report in August 1979 issue.]
The winners of the First Annual Rikers Romp are as follows: men's division, first place CO David Ward, Manhattan Residential Facility, 41:37.2; second place, Captain Wallace Roberts, Brooklyn Court Pens, 41:54; and third place, CO Zale Petties, AMKC, 42:17.

In the women's division. first place, Susan Aaronson, Staff Analyst in Personnel, 46:04.3; second place, CO Diane Foster, CIFW, 47:17, and third place, Mary DiBiase, Daily News, 56:36.

Congratulations to the winners and to all the runners who helped make this a memorable event.

[Report in August 1979 issue.]

History has demonst rated that last place. too, can he an honorable position. After all, Ulysses S. Grant was last in his class upon graduation from West Point. With this tradition in mind, Deputy Warden George Celardo, Prograrn Dep from CIFM was interviewed after completing the 6.2 mile Rikers Romp held on Saturday July 21. It was the first marathon he ever ran.

"I think I could have walked faster than I ran, but when I saw the finish line banner with the big clock overhead, saw the sea of faces cheering me on, and I heard the theme from Rocky, I felt such exhilaration -- just like a conquering hero returning from battle."

Deputy Warden Celardo, a 50-year old, 22-year veteran with the department decided to run when the Romp was announced. He had only one month to train. He started by running every evening in his old sneakers, although he soon switched to running shoes. Discovering a weakness in his right knee, he put on a support bandage and continued training. On Saturday, he wore the bandage like a flag, admitting that it probably didn't do him any good physically, although psychologically it did the trick.

His wife, who worried about him running that distance, was proud but relieved when the race was over, and all the younger officers at CIFM were happy but surprised that he actually finished.

"I didn't run to compete. I ran to see if I could finish. You run for yourself. You train for yourself - for your own satisfaction. I liked the idea of trying something new and I had a great time."

Moreover. there was a beneficial side effect. Celardo was always battling a weight problem. Now. as a result of running, his appetite has been curbed and some frustration eliminated.

Celardo believes that social events between the men and women who work in the department expand understanding and allow us to appreciate each other as people. Working relationships can only be improved through such good. clean sportsmanship.

"My muscles are still a little sore. but you know, I welcomed the aches. They remind me that I rose above mediocrity. After finishing that race, I know that nothing is impossible," said Celardo. He will run again in the next romp.

March 1996 newsletter reported DOC Running Club start and goal to resume the annual Rikers Run.

[Report in March 1996 issue.]
They're Off
'n' Running
Under DOC

Running joins football as a sport that Correction has undertaken to promote for physical fitness and to enhance the image of the Department. Those twin goals were cited in a teletype from First Deputy Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik and Eric M. Taylor announcing formation of the Department of Correction Running Club.

Since the announcement, about 60 staffers have become members, including a Bureau Chief, a Warden and a Deputy Warden. Dues are $10.

Affiliated with the Metropolitan Athletic Club, the new DOC club has filed for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. It has established an executive board consisting of Correction Officer Iran Colon, Fire & Safety, president; Capt. Cathy Martinez, Range, vice president, and CO Thomas McFall, Fire & Safety, secretary/treasurer.
This NYCHS "look-back" marking the Rikers Romp's 25th anniversary is presented in conjunction with the DOC Running Club's 7th Annual Rikers Island Challenge Run May 1, 2004.

Red and italicizing have been added in this presentation to the text on the immediate right for emphasis.

CO Colon has been a prime moving force in the club’s formation. After successfully completing the 1994 New York City Marathon, he began talking up the idea of a club for runners and race walkers. “I went around telling anyone and everyone who would listen that running in competition as a DOC team would be a great way to have fun, socialize, keep physically fit, and promote agency pride.”

When word reached First Deputy Commissioner Kerik and Chief Taylor, they decided to help the club get up and running by extending it official sanction and recognition.

With that encouragement, CO Colon has designed a racing singlet, aka tank top. Individual members have competed in races as D.O.C. runners . . . and walker. The club’s so-far-only racing walker, Ms. Mildred Rivers, with the General Counsel’s Office, participated in the Run/Walk for the (Breast Cancer) Cure in Central Park.

Colon and C.O. Peter Lauro, George R. Vierno Center, ran as DOC Club members in the 1995 New York Marathon Nov.12th.

The club plans to field teams in two events this spring and to re-establish the 5K Rikers Run that, in years past, was held for public agencies' running clubs.

Colon explained. “There still much to do, but we are off to a good start.”

To Part II of this 2-part presentation.

To NYCHS Home Page ----------- To DOC History Menu Page
To MS Word 2000 document version:
(1.4 Mb, 4 pages of JPG screen captures of Part I of 2-part web presentation).