A Northport man is racing to check a box off his bucket list this April.
Jorge Jimenez, 48, can frequently be found running laps through Northport’s streets with two of his neighbors and friends, Frank Bonomo and Bill Heuer. Together, the three make up the unofficial Three Amigos Running Club, training together for marathons and ultra running events.
Jimenez is currently preparing to take part in the Boston Marathon April 15 as part of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s team. In order to do so, he has set a goal of raising $7,500 for its teen programs, far above the minimum contribution of $1,500.
““I wondered if I could do a full marathon, I kind of stumbled into it. It turns out I can.”
“I used to spend a lot of time at the YMCA as a kid in elementary and middle school playing basketball and swimming,” Jimenez said. “I want to give back.”
Working by day as PSEG’s director of customer experience and utility marketing, Jimenez said he got started as a runner gradually, first by participating in community 3 and 5-kilometer events. He said he’s run in the Great Cow Harbor 10K several times.
“I wondered if I could do a full marathon, I kind of stumbled into it,” he said. “It turns out I can.”
Jimenez said he enjoys the competitive nature and goal setting required in long-distance running. The father of two pins his workout schedule to the kitchen refrigerator, where he keeps a log of his times, hoping it inspires his son and daughter.
“I like that my children get to see me set a really ambitious goal and get there,” he said.
Jimenez tackled 26.2 miles for the first time when he ran the New York City Marathon in fall 2015 before returning in 2016 for a personal best. While he’s enjoyed these experiences, the runner admits there comes a time during a race that he questions his decision to run.
“Miles 20 to 24, that’s where the money is,” he said. “When you are at [mile] 20, you’re in a no man’s land. You’ve been running for two hours, you have 20 miles on your legs and still have six miles to go.”
“When you are at [mile] 20, you’re in a no man’s land. You’ve been running for two hours, you have 20 miles on your legs and still have six miles to go.”
But experience has inspired him to create a new line on his “soft bucket list” of competing the six World Marathon Majors — New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo. His 2016 overall time of 4 hours, 40:54 minutes — or an average of pace of 10:43 per mile — isn’t fast enough to qualify. Instead, Jimenez has turned to raising money for a charity to secure a spot at the starting line.
The runner has served on the board of directors for the YMCA of Long Island for the past five years. He said he strongly supports the nonprofit organization’s mission to offer programs and services that nurtures youth and fosters healthy living and social responsibility. With donations similar to Jimenez’s, the YMCA of Greater Boston was able to give out 17,000 free three-month memberships to teens at its 13 branches and allowed them unlimited access last summer.
“When you run for the Y’s Boston Marathon team, you are raising money to help us give a teen in Greater Boston access to summer programming, swim classes and camp,” James Morton, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Boston said. “This past summer was our busiest to date with each of our branches creating programming to fit the needs of youth in their neighborhoods, which would not be possible without funds raised by our runners.”
Jimenez is looking forward to the challenge and is planning a trip to Boston ahead of the race. He wants to run the last 15-mile stretch of the course, particularly a hill known to marathoners as Heartbreak Ridge, to know he’s prepared for race day.
“You have to try to do everything you can to prepare yourself,” he said.
Those interested in supporting Jimenez can visit his CrowdRise page at: www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/ymca-boston-2019/jorgejimenez7.