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Thundering HERD Athlete Bio:

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Derek “D” Alvez

Seventeen-plus years ago, after vicariously living through fellow runners, experiencing the New York City Marathon via "What Makes Them Run" features I wrote for the Staten Island Advance; and spotting Staten Islanders on the course with my photographer ~ I flipped the script, making my debut on the five-borough tour, and my finale, finishing in a grueling and body punishing time of 5 hours, 3 minutes, 3 seconds.

Do you feel my pain?

 As a former middle distance runner in high school, college, and on the club circuit, I had the street cred – 10-miler (56:04), 10-K (33:01), 5-Miles (26:04), 4-K (25:47) – but none of that matter despite successfully climbing the highest mountain in Africa — Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters); and training for 21 days on the white flat sands, along the shore of the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar with my long-time friend and former Curtis High School teammate Kevin Thompson.

Fasting forward, I stepped onto the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge plaza "Red" starting line area, determined and recovering from a foot injury.

I thought to myself: "Vision. Focus. No Fear."

My right calf began to tighten up around four miles, throwing off my stride and concentration. At that point, I knew the next 22 miles would be tough and not fast.

However, when I was really low, I thought of what a gentleman in Brooklyn said to me when I broke stride, "If you are still moving, the race is yours." And within the next few blocks a band was singing: "The road is mine. The road is mine."

Finally, when I crossed the finish in Central Park, near Tavern of the Green, I admitted I had finished the toughest race of my life. And when I was handed my medal and aluminum wrap, all 639 of my muscles went into red alert, and my 206 bones began to crackle with each step. I knew then this was the end of my one-act show on the road.

Well, until my love and commitment to Cross World Africa, Inc. from its inception; and once again accept a challenge from Thompson with a vision of sharing my blessings to assist others less fortunate than I.

-D