Name: Kevin Long
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Current Residence: Long Island, NY
Occupation: Writer (Executive and Organizational Communications)
Kevin Long is still chasing his marathon goals at age 57, but more importantly he runs to help fundraise for charities that benefit those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. To date, he has raised over $160,000 through “Timmy’s Team,” a fundraiser named after his son, Tim.
1. When did your running journey begin?
My running journey began about 14 years ago. I was in my mid 40’s, in a high stress job, and raising three young children which is also stressful. I was overweight and lethargic and decided this was not fun. I started going to the gym and doing cardio which eventually led to running outside. I had never been a runner but figured what the heck.I ran my very first 5K in 2008, my first half in 2009 and what was supposed to be my “one and done” marathon in 2014 but I got bitten by the bug and now identify as a runner.
2. Can you tell us more about the origin of Timmy’s Team and your mission to help build a track for the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI)?
NYC 2014 was my first marathon and I ran as a charity runner for Autism Speaks. I chose that organization and the team name because my son Timmy is dually diagnosed with Down syndrome and autism so there was a natural connection for my fundraising. I was nervous about reaching the $2,500 goal but blew through that in about a month and ended up raising more than $10,000. I ran NYC 2015 for Autism Speaks raising a similar amount.
After that, I decided to run for the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI) where I have been a board member since 2008. Seven marathons later, Timmy’s Team has raised more than $140,000 for DDI including $20K in the past three months to build a therapeutic track at one of our campuses. Besides being used for fitness, the track is a valuable outlet for redirecting children with behavioral issues and letting them blow off steam. Fundraising was the only way this track was going to be built.
3. How does your son impact your running? Is he involved in your training or races?
Timmy, and by extension Timmy’s Team are my motivation for running. As his primary caregiver, alongside my wife Anne Marie, I need to remain in good shape and active late into life. Timmy has limited independent skills and requires assistance with things like bathing, dressing, etc. Running provides me with the physical and mental energy required to meet his needs. The generous support of family, friends, colleagues, former classmates and even a few strangers reminds me that I am not alone in my journey with Tim. It is extremely motivating to run for more than just yourself.
Unfortunately, Tim cannot join me in my training and it's difficult for him to manage spectating on a marathon course but he is always with me in my thoughts. Timmy is my purpose and I draw on that when the training and the racing get difficult. Timmy’s Team is engraved on my RoadID and it’s been on my race singlet the last five of my marathons and countless halfs.
4. What are some misconceptions the public has about those with developmental and intellectual disabilities?
This is a hard one to answer as every individual is different. That’s true of typical people and it is certainly true of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. What I would say is that they experience the same emotions we all do but perhaps they cannot express them in the same ways most of us can. They understand a lot more than you think so treat them as you would everybody else - with kindness, respect and love. It’s really that simple.
5. You’ve now run 9 marathons, starting when you were one week shy of your 49th birthday. What do you attribute to your running longevity and what would you recommend to other runners 50+ who want to stay injury-free?
Not sure I have anything new to add to the volumes that have been written about masters runners other than to say that for me, having a purpose has kept me focused and motivated to not only keep running but to seek out ways to improve and possibly set new PR’s. My past two marathons were my fastest and I have no doubt I have a few marathon PRs ahead of me as I commit more to strength training, yoga (stretching) and nutrition. I only started paying attention to those three non-running activities since the COVID lockdowns and I am getting results.
However, without Timmy’s Team and running for something bigger than myself, I am not sure I would continue training and running a marathon each year. For me the fundraising goal is much more important than the PR goal and it is certainly much more rewarding having a community come together to support me. I am as persistent in my fundraising as I am in my training and every year Timmy’s Team delivers - that is incredibly rewarding and motivating. I could not imagine running a marathon and not having Timmy’s Team as part of it. In fact, the night before every marathon I handwrite the names of every donor and they come along on the course with me the next day.
6. You’ve benefited greatly from structure training created by various coaches of the years. Would you recommend coaching to runners who don’t have one?
Absolutely. I ran my first two marathons following a generic plan. I only started to improve when I had the benefit of a plan tailored to my experience, fitness, age and goals and coaches who were able to provide feedback along the way. Given I still have PRs and other running goals ahead of me, I could not imagine chasing those without a knowledgeable coach and solid plan tailored to me. I wouldn’t cook a meal without a recipe so why run a race without a plan?
7. What running and fundraising goals are up next?
When I ran my fifth marathon I told myself I wanted to get to ten. I completed the Philadelphia Marathon last month for #9 and have a bib for Chicago next year (deferral from 2020 COVID cancellation) which would be #10 if I don’t choose to pursue a charity bib for NYC. I’ve run NYC (3x) , Chicago, Berlin, the Marine Corps in DC (2x) and Philadelphia (2x) and nothing comes close to NYC. No matter where I decide to run #10, Timmy’s Team will be a big part of it. We’ve raised more than $160,000 to date so maybe I need to keep running until we get to $200,000 or $250,000. A stretch goal is to run the other three majors - Boston, London, Tokyo - but let me hit my goal of 10 first.Donate to "Timmy's Team" here!