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QDR at the BOA Chicago Marathon 2018

What an amazing weekend we just had! From October 5th to the 7th we had Queens Distance members in seven different states running multiple races, from the 5K to the Marathon, all with inspiring stories! We will cover those races later but for now, here is a recap of the 20+ QDR members who ran the 41st edition of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The Chicago Marathon weekend started on Friday, October 5th, when the expo opened to the public. We had teammates arrive early on and pick up their bib, run, and then immediately fly back. Regardless of how much time we individually spent in Chicago, the team shone bright with smiles as we welcomed each other to Chicago and later when we said our goodbyes after the marathon.

Since Saturday was the day of the International Chicago 5K race, many of our members arrived to Chicago on Friday to pick up their 5K bibs (if they weren’t mailed to their homes) and get ready for their race. That day, many of us also collectively went to the expo to pick up the marathon bib.

Group pictures at the Chicago Marathon Expo

We made the most of that day from around noon to 3pm as we came and went and managed to find each other in the expo. After exploring the expo, collecting snacks, attempting to run Eliud Kipchoge’s pace for 200m, collecting freebies, and taking pictures, we left to get ready for the next long day. Those who couldn’t make it on Friday went on Saturday right after they arrived to the windy city of Chicago.

Chicago 5k – October 6th

As the name implies, the International Chicago 5K race highlights all the different countries that come to Chicago for the weekend. It’s an amazing idea and one that is further emphasized by the participant’s home country flag on the 5K bib, if they chose to have one. The diversity in the group was shown by American, Albanian, and Mexican flags. A big congratulations to our runners who represented their country and our club: Jessica Peralta, Nicholas Rachowicz (one of our members from St. Louis!), Ivelisse Ureña, Michael Tan, Elsie Alonso, Carolina Fuentes, Jonela Molla, and Isabelle Malave!

A few of a the participants of the International Chicago 5K race

It was a hectic morning as heavy rain and thunder made commuting to the start line tough. We received notifications that the Event Alert System (EAS) color was red, signifying potentially dangerous conditions. So, we waited out the rain under shelter and about 20 minutes past the original start time, the 5K race went off. This year, the race was held exclusively on the streets in the Loop of Chicago, as opposed to the last two years when the course went into Millennium Park.

The plan for the morning was to cheer the runners at mile 1 and mile 3, the latter location looped so we managed to see them twice at the same spot. We lost our voices, especially Dyrlee, as we cheered loudly not just for our teammates but for everyone. When we saw someone ready to walk, we pushed them to keep going just for a little bit more until the finish line. From babies to the elderly, it was inspiring to see everyone in the morning finish the 5K.

We got plenty of smiles and high fives from everyone and thanks from the last runner of the race. We witnessed PRs being made, a lovely moment between Jose and Isabelle, teammates being surprised by how well they did, and we even made friends with many runners who stopped by to take pictures with us!

QDR group picture after the International Chicago 5K



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Peak happiness 💕 • 📸: @dyrlita • • • • • • #chicago5k #chicago #runners #bae #loverslovin #roadrace

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Marathon – October 7th

Morning of the race! Group meet-up between Gate 4 and 5!

Feeding off the excitement from the previous day, we met up at the entrance to Millennium Park early morning for a quick team picture before we went to our corrals to get ready to race. Even though Millennium Park is big, it was easy to get around from the entrance to the gear check area to the corrals. At 7:30AM the gun went off, the nerves went away, and the race began.

Early on during the Chicago Marathon. Photos courtesy of Li.

As previously mentioned, we had over 20 QDR members running the race! That’s the biggest number of members we’ve had at a World Marathon Major race that isn’t the TCS NYC Marathon, where we have over 100 members running! It was truly a spectacle to witness the race unfold for all our teammates. It’s a marathon and as we all know, anything can happen in a marathon. We can feel really great that day and run better than we expected, or we can have a crummy day and fade out. Regardless, every runner who expected to finish, finished, and each has a story to tell. But, if you ask any of them, and we encourage you to ask, it was a race they won’t forget.

Close to the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. Photos courtesy of Li.

The QDR Athletes

Queens Distance had runners of all paces and all with different goals. Whether it was to qualify for Boston, get a sub-3, sub-4, to pace, or just to finish after recently being injured, we’re very proud of every one.

A small selection of finisher photos

There are more photos on our Facebook and Instagram accounts so make sure to check them out, as well as individual runner’s accounts.

Congrats to all our runners for the Chicago Marathon: the twins Lorenzo de la Cruz and Nicolas de la Cruz, Dyrlee Sanmiguel, Rosie Rosario, Victor Fajardo, Shahidah Hamlett, Julie Tran, Martha Panora, Dignangely Jimenez, Tony Wang, Michael Tan, Evelyn Wong, Albert Tan, Jose Donado, and Rene Cuahuizo. We had friends of QDR join us like James Liu and Sean Forrestel. We’d also like to congratulate Bevin Bullock and Harry Cheung who both ran their sub-4 hour goal, Nick Deuz who PR-ed by over an hour and 15 minutes, Frank Poline who ran a Boston Marathon qualifying time and a PR by 33 minutes, and Eric Morris and Daniel Rivera who both ran under 3 hours. Daniel was also the fastest of the day coming in at 2:49:11! Big thanks to Peter Ciaccia and Michael Capiraso who recognized the gold singlets at the finish line and greeted us.


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Meet Danny Rivera @danny.ocean. Yesterday, at 7:30AM, Danny went out for a 🏃🏻through the City of Chicago that came to it’s conclusion at 10:19AM. (2:49:11) 🏅 Danny, a Native of Jackson Heights, Queens, works as a Nurse and had to fit 80+ Mile Weeks into his schedule. On his own time, Danny would venture out to Team Practices in support of teammates. If you check our “Race Recaps and Stories”, you’ll usually spot Danny close to the edge of the course, raising his voice for teammates and the Running Community. 🦄 At 9PM, it was another Day at the Office as Danny clocked in for his shift with the run of his life under his belt. A Blue Collar, hard working and fully spirited Queens Distance Runner if we have ever had one! #queensdistance #hischicagomarathon #bostonqualifier #sub3hourmarathon #runners #itsinqueens #chicago #madeinqueens #humansofny #training #marathoner

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Maria Wong, Edwin Guzman, and Kevin Montalvo, the three co-founders, worked together for the majority of the marathon until Kevin felt pain in his foot and dropped out. Not to worry! Kevin was otherwise feeling well throughout the race and expected that to happen at some point. Even though Maria’s goal wasn’t met, as she pointed out, “I just wanted to thank everyone who tracked, cheered, or reached out to me. I got so many messages in the days leading up to today. A special shoutout to my husband Kevin and my brother from another mother Edwin; they both selflessly led me, partially and fully, to my first Chicago Marathon finish. I did have some tummy troubles and had to grit through to the end. I am not disappointed or sad. I actually am at peace with it because I had all of your wonderful thoughts and words with me. Thanks again.”

The three QDR Co-founders

QDR Scream Station

The two Scream Station leaders for the morning!

The morning of the Chicago Marathon was a special one, but one that would not have been what it was without the QDR Scream Station. The day before we organized where and when our teammates would meet up so that they could have good spectating sights, but also cheer for us. This year, we had three QDR scream stations led by Jess and Jona. The first two were early on in the Marathon at miles 3 and 12 and the third scream station was at mile 25, right before the end. With the cheer squad at those locations, our runners got the most out of the cheers, and the cheer squad was also able to easily maneuver between them in the city. Even though we had those sites in mind, some members decided to go to their spectating location of choice, which worked out so well as we were able to hear cheers all throughout the race!

Separate Scream Station locations but familiar faces

Many of them went with us early morning to drop us off, some carried our bags, and best of all, they all brought a great attitude. We truly and deeply appreciate all the time they used to be out there for us. A big thank you to Jona, Jess, Li (Harry’s girlfriend who will soon be part of our team), Nicholas, David Dominguez (who unfortunately had to defer this year’s Chicago Marathon), Ivelisse, Isabelle, Elsie, Rachel Morris (Eric’s wife), and Martha’s cousin Johnny and niece Diana, all of whom helped us cross the finish line.

Next Year

Martha being helped by her niece at mile 25

You can bet we will be out here next year after weeks of training to show our best on the streets of Chicago. For now, we will take this incredible momentum we have into our very own TCS NYC Marathon and into other fall marathons. See you out on the road and remember to always spread the love when running.


Queens Distance

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Hoka One One Long Island Mile – NYRR 5th Avenue Mile

Welcome to Ed’s Calm Corner! Kevin, team captain, has given me the “Ed the Calm” nickname a while back, due to my same “calm demeanor” when running easy or intensely. What started as giving a few quick tips before a race has turned into a series of advice and general knowledge sharing in Queens Distance Facebook group. I am not the fastest or the most knowledgeable runner, but the hope is to pass along course knowledge, general advice, and anything in between, to help one be more confident before a race.

The mile.

We’re all familiar with the mile. We have all run plenty of miles before and we will run plenty more. For those well into their marathon training, hitting mile after mile in our long runs and workouts is commonplace. But, have you ever just ran one mile as fast as you possibly can? It’s one of the biggest physical and mental challenges you can set out to accomplish, because once you’re hurting, finding the motivation to keep going can be hard. Luckily, you can find comfort knowing that Queens Distance will be there to push you along. And, if you’re running the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile this weekend, you already know we’ll be out there cheering at the ¾ of a mile mark!

Hoka One One Long Island Mile

Photographed by Jose Donado

I had the pleasure of attending the Hoka One One Long Island Mile at Bay Shore High School Wednesday night along with Jose Donado, Michael Remache, Daniel Rivera, and Bryan Guzman. We arrived to find a calm setting as more and more runners began to settle in. It was a beautiful evening with a slight breeze, if you were just spectating; those running had to deal with the humidity and the nerves that come with racing on a track. We progressed into the night and first up was Michael who ran a 5:59 mile! Another heat went off and Danny and Bryan were getting ready. Unlike the 5th Avenue Mile, the Hoka One One Long Island Mile was broken up into pace heats; the first heat was a 8-to-10 minute pace goal group and the last heat was a sub 4:30 minute pace group. The gun went off and they broke off again, Danny finishing in 4:58 and Bryan in 5:06 (a new personal best)!

Daniel Rivera,

Photographed by Jose Donado

It was a tough night with the humidity affecting the runners, but at the end of it all, we had a lot fun running, watching the elite runners race, and talking about the next big goal: the 5th Avenue Mile. What to expect on race day? A downhill for the first 400 meters, an uphill for the second 400 meters, another downhill for the third 400 meters, and then Queens Distance cheering as you begin the last 400 meters until the finish!

The QDR Scream Station at the 3/4 mile mark!

Just like in the previous years, Queens Distance will set up on 5th Avenue and 65th Street, right by the ¾ mile mark. We chose this spot because, as you can see the finish line on the horizon and as you probably think you’re fading, the scream station will help you find an extra gear to finish the last 400 meters as strong as possible. Make sure to stay on the right side of the street!

Claudia Rivero, Jose Donado, Kevin Montalvo, & Nicole Freeman at the NYRR 5Th Avenue Mile 2017

To go back to a previous point, why would you think you’re fading after the halfway point? Because it certainly feels that way and, as I’ve talked to others about, the third 400 meters into the mile can make you or break you. One just has to hold on to dear life as the pain starts to kick in and the rate perceived effect rises. As I’ve told my younger brother plenty of times, “One moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.” That quote is attributed to Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran who ran the 5000m distance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and also known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. Coincidentally, it was Zamperini’s brother who told him that right before Zamperini left for the 1936 Olympics. It was something that resonated with me while reading his story in Unbroken.

So, as you head towards the final part of any mile race, remember that the pain will be over soon, not to give up, and keep pushing. Embrace the pain. Sure, maybe you won’t be competing at the Olympics (for now) but a mile is a mile; a 5-minute mile is the same distance as a 9-minute mile. We all have different goals but the struggle to reach that goal is the same.

Take it from the first two runners who broke the 4 minute barrier in 1954. John Landy, the second person to break 4 minutes in the mile, attempted and failed numerous times to break that barrier. After a few attempts he even thought it was be impossible. It wasn’t until Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier in 3:59.4 that Landy was later (in about 6 weeks) able to break the 4 minute barrier.

Come race day, don’t set any limits, just run your best. One of my favorite memories from the 2017 5th Avenue Mile was seeing my mom run her first mile race. She was hoping to break 11 minutes and when she finished she was so surprised that she finished in 9:45! The Mile is not just for the fastest but also for those courageous enough to challenge themselves.

If you have time after your race on Sunday, stay to watch the Elite Men and Women races and take a picture with them after the race!

Ginia Guzman’s signed QDR hat by Jenny Simpson!


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Forest Park 10 & 5 Miler: Recap

Another year passes by and Queens Distance has held yet another race at Forest Park! The QDR Forest Park 10 & 5 miler race started at 9AM this past Sunday, September 2nd. It was the seventh time we’ve held a race on the hilly road inside Forest Park. As Queens Distance Team Captain Kevin Montalvo made sure everyone knew right before the race started, it was two out-and-back loops for the 5 milers and four out-and-back loops for the 10 milers. And then they were off!

The start of the Forest Park 10 & 5 Miler. Picture by Horse and Duck Photo.


We host our races around specific themes, current events, or to contribute back to our community. We’ve hosted the Philippines 5K (around the Philippines Independence Day), the World Cup 5K (before the 2018 World Cup), the Mexico 5 miler (on Cinco de Mayo), and other races to show the great cultures and diversity that Queens has to offer. The annual Toy Drive 5 Miler is held in December and we collect unopened toys for children in collaboration with Queens Centers for Progress.

Images by Horse and Duck Photo


This past Sunday, we collaborated with Queens Community House (QCH) and their Eviction Prevention Unit for the first time. The housing and homelessness prevention program advocates for affordable housing as well as spreading knowledge to tenants across the borough the Queens. Please listen to Housing Specialist John Strub from QCH with a pre-race speech thanking everyone who came out for the race and everyone who donated to QCH, and to spread the mission of the Eviction Prevention Unit. 

Even though the race is over, please consider donating to Queens Community Housing!

We had many runners from different NYC running teams lined up. From Front Runners, to the Polska Running Team, to Achilles International, it was a show put on by the larger NYC running community. Congrats to all the runners! It was a hot morning but a good tune-up to prepare for all the upcoming Fall races and marathons.

Images by Horse and Duck Photo


Without the help of our volunteers, we would not be able to hold events, so a big thanks to them! We had Michael Remanche drive along the route to set up cones and drop off volunteers along the way; Diego Britez, Ginia Guzman, Jeff Muñoz, and Jonela Molla were course marshals; Jossue Vega was security at baggage check; Winston and Laurentia Mei were at the water station located at the far hairpin turn on the course; Nina Manso handed out medals to the finishers; and Jessica Peralta and Maria Wong took charge of the registration table and the Kids of Queens race. We also had double-duty volunteers that manned the water station by the start/finish area: Daniel Rivera, Michael, Jessica, and Maria. A huge thanks to Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance for their support and for making sure runners were safe as temperatures rose and to Elitefeats for timing the race and providing official results in a timely fashion. Last, but not least, thanks to our hardworking bike pacers, Mario Silva and Bryan Guzman, who led the first 10 miler male and female runners to the finish line as well as sweeping the course to make sure our runners were safe.



And Kevin! Kevin was not only race director but led the 5 mile winner and later the Queens of Kids race on Jossue’s bike!

Images by Horse and Duck Photo


In case you haven’t already seen, our stupendous photographers, Horse and Duck Photos, were there to capture every second of the excitement! Big thanks to the duo comprised of Jose Donado and Albert Tan who made it out to yet another QDR event! Check them out on their Instagram account and check out all the images taken on their public Flickr album.

Stay tuned for our next race later this year and follow our calendar for upcoming group runs and workouts.


Queens Distance Runners

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To an Olympic Trials Qualifier

The following was authored by Marie-Ange Brumelot.

The sport of running is one of a kind in that it requires nothing but the desire to move forward. The marathon discipline itself is a perfect representation of that. One can go spectate any Big City marathon and observe individuals running without shoes, fancy gear, or even legs. I can truly say that I am in love with the simplicity of the sport. It makes me feel more accountable for what I have do to, just put one foot in front of the other. It also gets the best out of people: kindness, support, and determination to name a few. Founders and members of my beloved team Queens Distance Runners are a great example of that, which is a big factor in my success today.

We all get lost sometimes, we all have setbacks, we all go through though experiences, but these are what makes us stronger. The 2017 edition of the New York City Marathon was my hardest run to date. I struggled to finish, I had lost my passion for running, and all athletes would know, without a deep desire to succeed, there is not much left. However, being a home race, the support on and off the course was absolutely amazing and inspiring, which drove me to bounce back stronger than ever.

I love training through the winter: no heat to worry about keeping pace and effort aligned, just hop on the treadmill on heavy snow days. I trained really well heading towards the One City Marathon held in March 2018. I did not increase my mileage from the previous cycle, I stayed about upper 80s miles a week with one run a day, but kept things much more consistent, and was extremely fortunate to have Edwin and Luciano to push with when it was time to do so. I came in to every workout with a goal effort to sustain and continuously surprised myself with the times and paces I was able to hit. The only race on my calendar in between the two marathons was a 10-miler in Prospect Park to close my peak week, the goal was to average marathon pace after a moderate solo 10 miles in the park. Things went really well, I was ready.

I was hoping to run a 6:10 pace for the marathon, which would get me right under 2hr42, although I thought it was quite ambitious. My personal best still laid at 2hr48, so I was, to say the least, hoping for a big improvement. I showed up to the starting line ready to put in my greatest effort and was excited to see what numbers I would see. I have learned to gauge myself on race-day, to be patient, and to simply cross every mile marker with the belief I have just ran the best and smartest mile I could.

Things started smoothly, I held back early on to stay around my 6:10 pace, which was a relief as I was unsure it would feel right. I knew that if the pace felt easy early on, with how well training went, it would be all a matter of mental strength in the later stages. So I cruised, clocking some faster miles here and there but staying controlled, something beautiful was unfolding. I made it to 16 miles before starting to feel uncomfortable. I told myself two things; one “it’s just a 10-mile tempo to go, you’ve done plenty of these”, and two “let’s get to mile 20”. Indeed, it was quite early to begin battling but I was ready to work hard. Taking it one mile at a time, I got myself to mile 20 without slowing down a bit. And there, the world changed. I did not hit a wall, but in contrary got sort of second wind. I finally got a glimpse at the first female I had been blindly chasing for two hours. My competitive spirit gave me a shot of adrenaline. Although she was still quite a distance ahead, seeing her back took my mind off the discomfort I was feeling. I instead focused on closing the gap between us two while my mind was going back and forth on whether on not I could catch her.

The last 5 kilometers of a marathon are pure hell. Every step is like a gunshot in my quads, my mind is exhausted, my vision gets blurry… but that’s where the difference is made, that is when you really get to test yourself. While I was looking at the white traffic lines on the road, debating stopping to end this barely handleable pain, I recalled all the hard runs me and my training buddies went through, I replayed in my head all the cheers from teammates I had heard during the NYC Marathon, and I kept grinding. Mile 24: 6:00, Mile 25: just one mile to go, I counted the seconds separating me to first pace, the watch gave me a 6:05 mile, it was now or never. I tried to pick it up, I had over 10 seconds to make up. “Train like you want to race, and you will race like you trained.” I had repetitively showed my ability to close hard in training, now was the time to capitalize on it. Mile 26: 5:53, the gap kept closing but I needed more road. A quick laugh at myself for thinking that as looking back 5km I wanted to stop so badly. On jiggly legs I “sprinted” down the last stretch as first place broke the tape right in front of me. I would not have been able to close any faster.

I crossed the finish line in 2:40:50, an Olympics Trials performance by over four minutes. I bettered my expectations in terms of goal time and effort I could give on race day. With a big smile on my face I look at my result, an almost perfect race had just happened, this one will be hard to beat.

Each race is an experience to learn from giving us a chance to come back even stronger. Never doubt yourself and fight for every step because there are beautiful things waiting when you push through. The marathon is a long race when we are being tested continuously, from beginning to end. Always believe you can achieve great things, and you will. The beauty of this sport lays in each athlete’s mind. Thank you all for the endless support, team work makes the dream work.

Marie-Ange Brumelot

@marie11201 on Instagram

Athlete page on Facebook