They are two athletes who are worshipped in their sports, yet walking around the streets of New York most people don’t notice them. That was the blessing that Raúl, easily one of the biggest and most beloved stars in Spanish, and global soccer, and Meb Keflezighi, arguably the greatest American marathoner of all time with an Olympic silver medal and the New York and Boston Marathons among his resume have when walking around Gotham. People know of them, but few bother them, and their paths intersected this week as the New York City Marathon started to take over the city.
Raúl, who will be running his first marathon, joined Meb on Tuesday at the New York Athletic club for the AKTIV Against Cancer lunch and awards ceremony, celebrating the work that the legendary Grete Waitz did helping others and raising money to support cancer before the disease took her life.
The foundation now carries on her legacy of research and healthy lifestyle, and every year honors a running luminary who does so much for the community, with Meb being this year’s honoree.
“My career has been blessed, and to be able to accept this in the name of someone, Grete, who knew that sport was so much more than what happens on the field or the track or the course makes it even more special,” Keflezighi said. “We are all here to hopefully aid a cause much bigger than sport.”
The moment and the event were not lost on Raúl, who is working for La Liga and now calls New York home after a career that came to an end with one year with the New York Cosmos.
“The Marathon is such an amazing event, it brings together all people as one around New York,” he noted. “To be here to help raise interest in a great cause around such a massive event is quite an honor.”
After donating more than $14M and helping to create 13 physical activity centers in cancer treatment facilities throughout Norway, AKTIV Against Cancer established its official presence in the United States in 2014 and is now supporting groundbreaking work in exercise oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. AKTIV Against Cancer has committed to funding $1.3 million towards the research of Dr. Lee Jones at MSK.
Throughout the lunch speakers mentioned the former Real Madrid star jokingly as he preps for his first running journey throughout the five boroughs on Sunday, where he will again be one of thousands looking to finish the race, one of the world’s greatest athletic spectacles.
However on one bright Tuesday in midtown, two bright stars shone together for a great cause. Grete would be proud.