Long Distance Runner Tackles NYC and Las Vegas

By Eva Potter

If you’ve worked, skied or boarded at Holiday Valley, you’ve probably heard of Mike Nenno, who has been a ski racing coach and event coordinator there for many years.

On Sept. 8, Nenno became Holiday Valley’s full-time, terrain parks and events manager, after working there for more than 20 years on a part-time basis. Ever since he started, he’s been working diligently to get things ready for the skiing/boarding season and loving his job on the slopes.

But Nenno has another passion – running very long distances. In fact, he’s a seasoned marathon runner and has run several marathons, including the Marine Corp Marathon.

This year he took on the challenge of the iconic and top-rated marathon in the world — the NYC Marathon on Nov. 2.

“I got in via lottery,” he explained. “You pay $5 to enter the lottery and wait till February to find out if you get selected or not.”

For the pleasure – or pain—of running the marathon, runners then pay a $250 entrance fee.

Nenno said the experience was outstanding and he was extremely impressed by the organization and the way they managed the thousands of runners.

“They do an amazing job with the organization, considering it is the largest marathon in the world, with this year’s race having 50,564 finishers,” he said.

But the million dollar question is: How do you get 50,000-plus runners to the starting line

“I took a taxi to the ferry port, and then we were taken to Staten Island, and then boarded buses for a short trip to the start line,” Nenno explained. “Due to the size of the field, they use wave starts based on your estimated finish time on three different start lines on three different roads, and then the roads all met together after 4 miles. I would estimate it took about two hours to get to the start line.”

To prepare for the marathon, Nenno followed a 16-week, online training plan designed by the New York Road Runners Club.

“In the end, I put in over 715 miles in training runs and in over 100 hours of running,” he said.

In the end, Nenno finished with a time of 3:43:11, a little slower than the 3:30 he had hoped to achieve.

“The wind was an issue all day. There were guest of 40 mph when we were running across the Verrazano Bridge,” he explained. “I also got a slight cramp around mile 20 but was able to run through it.”

Accompanying him on this journey were his wife Sally, sister-in-law Kim Potter, nephew Andy Nenno and Andy’s girlfriend, who all proudly cheered him on — along with the thousands of spectators who lined the course through the five boroughs of New York City.

“This is by far the best marathon I have ever run, from the organization of the race to the crowds of people every mile of the way to the 10,000 volunteers that help you in every step of the process, from packet pickup to water stations every mile along the course to picking up your finish medal and recovery food snacks after the finish,” said Nenno.

He had very few complaints other than stiffness the next day, and later in the week, he took some training runs to prepare for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon on Nov. 16 — only two weeks after NYC. He made the trip to Vegas with local Scott (Bo) Miller.

“I decided to run the half marathon, but felt great and ran a personal best for the half,” said Nenno. “I felt good enough to run the full but decided not to.”

It’s hard to imagine that much running in two weeks. Now, Nenno can use the slippery snow and gravity to help him get around the slopes of Holiday Valley.