Photo by Linda S. Chan (she/her)

Photo by Linda S. Chan (she/her)

Some five years ago I met Michael Ring (he/him) at NYRR’s Open Run at Marine Park.  I don’t remember the exact date or that exact moment, but undoubtedly Michael was wearing a red PPTC hoodie or a PPTC T-shirt, perhaps with the Achilles logo pinned to his shirt.  Michael was a slow walker who at that time may have joined us to walk only a loop of Marine Park (0.84 miles).  Michael was talkative and friendly. Anyone who took time to speak with him learned a lot about the evolution of the running scene in New York City through the years and the medical condition that afflicted Michael.  

Michael is a lifelong Brooklynite born in Brookdale Hospital. He discovered running when he joined the track  team in high school to avoid gym.  In his junior year at Sheepshead Bay High School, Michael ran his first race – a cross-country race in Prospect Park that covered a route from Dog Beach to Cadillac Lake.  Michael went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from SUNY Stony Brook and took a break from running, but he would return.  

Michael joined NYRR in 1979 and first attempted to run the New York City Marathon in 1981.  With no coaching leading up to the marathon and consuming too much water during the race, Michael DNFed at mile 16 that year. 

In 1992, Michael joined PPTC because he heard that clubs could get people into the New York City Marathon (NYCM), and in 1994 Al Goldstein helped Michael get a spot in the marathon.  Since then Michael has run 33 official marathons (the 33rd in 2019 as part of an indoor marathon relay team).  He is a NYCM Streaker:  he has run 20 consecutive NYCMs with his longest streak being 16 runnings of the NYCM, and he now has guaranteed non-complimentary entry to the marathon.  Michael’s marathon PR is from the 2000 Sri Chimoy Marathon when he finished in under 4 hours.   

In May 2014, Michael was diagnosed with acute motor axonal neuropathy, a rare variant of Guilliane-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS).  Michael suspects that the GBS was triggered by undercooked chicken that he ate in a road stop meal he had after spectating at the Boston Marathon that year.  He thought he had Lyme disease when he went to the doctor and instead was told to immediately go to the hospital, where his condition continued to decline and he was ultimately diagnosed with GBS.  Michael was hospitalized for four months and gradually moved from using a wheelchair, to using a walker, to being a slow walker with a cane, to returning to the marathon.  

In 2017, Michael completed the New York City Marathon in a time of 9:52:16.  GBS has not stopped Michael.  This was his first official marathon since being diagnosed with GBS.  He has made a lot of progress since then.  Even the pandemic hasn’t stopped Michael.  He completed the 2020 Virtual TCS New York City Marathon with a time of 8:30:57.  More recently, Michael completed the marathon distance for his birthday, running around the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir Track in Central Park as a fund raiser for Achilles International.  Michael covered an ultra-marathon distance of 26.5 miles in 8:00:07 that day. 

From about 1995 to 2020, Michael served on the Board of PPTC, including being vice president.  There’s a rumor that he decided to no longer seek election to the Board because of a strong dislike of Slack.  Although Michael is no longer on the Board, you can find him helping out at some of PPTC’s races.  Since his diagnosis with GBS, Michael also has been training with Achilles International’s New York City chapter.  

A stay-at-home father since the birth of his twins, with his son and daughter now in college Michael is looking to return to the workforce.  He worked as a poll worker for the 2020 presidential election and the recent mayoral primary election.  Michael’s current running goal is to qualify to run the Boston Marathon and run the Boston Marathon.  Under the Boston Athletic Association’s Adaptive Program for Runners, Michael would need to complete a qualifying marathon in under 6 hours to qualify to run the Boston Marathon.   

Michael’s running history before his diagnosis with GBS was impressive, but his drive to continue running and to set higher and higher running goals since his diagnosis with GBS has been inspiring.  Despite having been awarded the Joe Kleinerman award from NYRR in 2017, Michael dislikes being called inspiring, but I think he’s coming around to it.  

You can follow Michael on Strava or read about his thoughts on his blog.  

Photo by Jimmy Leung (he/him)

Photo by Jimmy Leung (he/him)

PPTC is a diverse and supportive team. We want to celebrate the diversity of our club and membership. We welcome and encourage everyone to share their stories with us.

Text by: Linda S. Chan
Photos by: Linda S. Chan and Jimmy Leung, as noted
Edited by: Rachael DePalma (she/her)
Produced by: Linda S. Chan