SOMA Spotlight: NY Road Runner of the Year Nominee Moshe Bar Am

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Now an elite runner at age 75, Bar Am only started running at age 55: “Its never too late to start to run!”

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HistoryNusantara’s Spotlight series aims to help the residents of SOMA — or MapSO — get to know their neighbors better. HistoryNusantara asks the questions; the Spotlight personality does the rest! Read more Spotlights here.

Moshe Bar Am

 

Name: Moshe Bar Am

What is your age? Seventy-five

When did you move to Maplewood? March 31, 1979

Did you always live on Plymouth Avenue? Yes, this was our first home. Plymouth Avenue is the most amazing block in the world. We have wonderful neighbors who are very inclusive, caring, and social.

When did you start running? I started running when I was 55, because prior to that I did not have the time to devote to running. I had an intensive job in the city and my two children played soccer and lacrosse, so we were always driving to practices and tournaments.

Was it hard to start later in life? I started slowly, running on a treadmill, perhaps 15 minutes a mile. Then I started increasing the speed. When I reached six minutes a mile, I felt it was dangerous to run that fast on a treadmill, and I began to run outdoor races.

What was your time when you ran the New York Marathon for the first time? Three hours, 33 minutes, 11 seconds, at the age of 63, in 2011. In 2012, I ran the New York Half, finishing #6 out of 200 in my age bracket, at a pace of 7:03. Age graded, I finished 91st out of 7,475 runners. In 2015, I placed first out of 75 runners in my age group (66) in the New York Half-Marathon, and placed #74 out of 9,297 runners when age graded. So far, I have run five marathons and 21 half-marathons.

What is your favorite running spot in Maplewood/South Orange? During COVID when I couldn’t take the train to NYC, I began running along Wyoming Avenue, running from the start in Millburn to the end in West Orange and back.

Do you do any local SOMA races, or are you dedicated to NYC running? I mostly run in races in the city but my grandson is at Seth Boyden now so I’ll probably do the Turkey trot next year. 

How is the commute to New York City for running? I take the Midtown Direct to Penn Station, and then run from there to Central Park or Brooklyn. I almost never take a subway or a taxi and sometimes I’ll run a few miles to warm up BEFORE I start the race. 

What clubs are you running with?  I joined the New York Road Runners in 2009. I also train and run with the Brooklyn Track Club, which had been the Nike Running Club. Locally, I train with the SOMA Foxes. I have been nominated for Runner of the Year by the New York Road Runners five times, including this year. With the New York Road Runners, I have run 132 races, for a total distance of 1,037.2 miles.

Have you ever been sidelined with an injury? I currently have some issues with arthritis in my knee, and have been limiting myself to half-marathons. I hope to run the 2024 New York City Marathon. I was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon in 2014, but was sidelined less than a week before with an injury.

What do you do in the meantime? When I am unable to run, I work out at the gym, doing Jacob’s Ladder and Stairmaster.

What does running mean to you? I love running. It helps me to maintain my health. I get really antsy if I can’t run for a few days. 

How has it opened up the world for you, inspired you, changed your life? Running has enabled me to meet wonderful people, enjoy being outdoors, and given me the opportunity to know the streets and parks of New York City intimately.

How long do you expect to be running? Until I can’t run anymore.

Is it SOMA or MapSO for you? SOMA because I run with the SOMA Foxes.

Where do you load up on carbs? I’ve never really believed in the intensive carbo loading and eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds. As far as favorite source of carbs in town, we’ve been going to the Village Trattoria in Maplewood ever since my daughter was a waitress there when she was at Columbia. 

Tell us about your life before running. What did you study? What was your career? I was born on a kibbutz in Israel and moved to the US in the early 1970s. I studied accounting at Baruch College in the city and I worked in the international banking system in New York for 41 years. My family would say that before running I never really had any hobbies and that this has become my “second career” that gives me a lot of purpose. 

What message would you like to give to runners of all ages of SOMA/MapSO? It’s never too late to start to run and you can start very slowly with walking on a treadmill…in fact the later you start, the more cartilage you will have left in your knees :-) 

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