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Does it get any better than standing at the finish line in Central Park to greet the winners of the New York City Marathon? Certainly that moment last year, when Shalane Flanagan took the title and became the first American woman in 40 years to win, will be among Peter Ciaccia’s most vivid memories of his time as the director of the largest marathon in the world.
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Ciaccia, 64, announced on Wednesday, that he’s retiring as the president of events at New York Road Runners on November 4, after the 2018 New York City Marathon. Jim Heim, 41, senior vice president of event development and production, will take over following Ciaccia’s departure.
To be able to share in @shalaneflanagan‘s special and historic moment in our sport is something I do not take lightly. Still tear-up 😢 with emotion, knowing how much hard work and dedication Shalane and #TeamNYRR put in to make this a memorable day for our city, fans & runners!! pic.twitter.com/f3Yolg8RHv
— Peter Ciaccia (@peter_ciaccia) November 11, 2017
“Over the past 18 years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most creative, innovative, and dedicated individuals in the industry, and for that I will be forever grateful,” Ciaccia said in a written statement.
When Mary Wittenberg left her NYRR post in May 2015, Ciaccia and Michael Capiraso were promoted from their roles within the organization to split her duties. Capiraso remains president and CEO.
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During his tenure, Ciaccia, who was born and raised in the Bronx, has emphasized mutual admiration and attention toward the fastest professional athletes as well as the back of the pack. At the marathon, for example, he invited the elite runners to return to the finish line with him hours later to welcome back those finishing in eight hours of more.
In the past three years, NYRR has also taken up the Run Clean initiative, an effort in education, testing, and advocacy against doping in the sport. As the largest marathon in the world, with more than 50,000 finishers, Ciaccia also implemented the current wave start system and helped grow the number of NYRR race finishers each year by 40 percent. Open Run, a free community running and walking program, was also one of Ciaccia’s contributions.
“His passion for making sure every runner has a safe and positive experience, from the pros to the final finishers, is a big reason why New York Road Runners is the world’s premier community running organization,” said George Hirsch, chairman of the board of directors, in a written statement.
Ciaccia said he is looking forward to new adventures—and more free time—after the 2018 marathon.
“I am now at an age when the word retirement feels right,” he said. “I’ll move to the next phase of my life, reconnect with family and friends and travel off to new adventures that I had put on hold.”
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