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Meet NYC Marathon runners Dave Balassiano and Jen Correa

Long after the contenders for the New York City Marathon cross the finish line in Central Park, thousands of New Yorkers will be continuing their 26.2-mile journey across the five boroughs.

These runners may enter the race for charitable, social or health reasons, taking great pride in finishing one of the city's trademark events.

Learn more about two runners who plan to partake in Sunday's New York City Marathon.

Healthy living makes marathon possible for Dave Balassiano

For Ocean Parkway resident Dave Balassiano, running in
Photo Credit: Dave Balassiano

For Ocean Parkway resident Dave Balassiano, running in this year's New York City Marathon fits all of the above reasons.

"I am healthy and I am psyched," said Balassiano, who will be running in his first NYC Marathon. "My wife has been hearing me talk about the marathon and been so supportive that I want to do this in her honor."

Balassiano's family will be the driving force behind each step he takes on Sunday, as the 45-year-old said his desire to be around for his family is what got him into running in the first place.

Six years ago, the 5-foot-10 Balassiano was 275 pounds and suffered from high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. Coupled with poor family health history that cost Balassiano his father at the age of 71, the Brooklynite decided he needed to make a change.

"I didn't want to go down that path," said Balassiano, who was 21 when his father died. "I have four kids and they love me, and I love them, and I didn't want to do to them what happened to me."

Balassiano began his road to good health by changing his diet and walking outdoors. He slowly progressed to jogging and, soon enough, had lost 75 pounds in one year. He ran his first 5K in 2009.

"At the finish line everybody cheered for me, and I will never forget that moment. It was like I won the race," Balassiano said. "I didn't realize I was one of the last people, but I felt great."

Balassiano has been training for the NYC Marathon for the past four years.

For Jen Correa, the marathon's a redemption run post-Sandy

Jen Correa was ready to run in her
Photo Credit: Jen Correa

Jen Correa was ready to run in her first New York City Marathon in 2012 after being sidelined from the 2011 race by a bout of sciatica.

But Correa wasn't able to run in that marathon, either, and this time it wasn't back pain that prevented her from participating. Instead, it was Superstorm Sandy that postponed the race. It also put her personal life on pause, when it destroyed her home.

"My house was completely gone," said Correa, who had lived in Oakwood Beach, Staten Island. "It was about a half a mile into the marsh."

Correa and her two kids evacuated to a friend's house in Brooklyn before the storm, but her husband Pedro stayed behind to mitigate the damage. Stranded in their home once the storm was in full force, Pedro reached out to his wife for what might have been the final time.

"He had left me a voicemail before he left the house that he loved me," said Correa of her husband. "It was a very scary goodbye message."

It was not until two hours after Pedro originally called her that she heard the message and a subsequent one that he was OK.

Correa spent the next few weeks feeling like a "zombie," until she decided to go for a run.

"I finally felt normal again," she said.

Once the marathon was officially canceled, Correa made it her goal to finish what she started. When the time finally came in 2014, it was a momentous occasion for her and her family.

"It was something to get us back to a win," said Correa. "That is what was supposed to happen."

Last year, Correa and her family moved to a new home on Staten Island that is farther inland, in Pleasant Plains. The move kept her from training for last year's marathon, but this year she accepted a bid from the Staten Island Athletic Club (SIAC) to once again represent her borough.


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