Last year, Sue Arcuri, a second grade teacher’s aid from Long Island, spent six months preparing for the New York City Marathon with her husband, Rich.
“It would have been his 15th New York City marathon and it was my first,” she said. “I applied a couple of times and didn’t get in. I finally got selected and so we were training and then unfortunately he was killed in an accident.”
Rich Arcuri was electrocuted on a construction job two days before Sue and Rich’s 25th wedding anniversary and one day before his 50th birthday.
Despite the tragedy, Arcuri decided she’d have regrets if she didn’t complete the race, which took place a few months after his death. “It gave me peace and it gave me some calm in my life. I did it mainly because he couldn’t.”
Last year, she completed the race for her husband. This year she was back, running the race for herself.
A mother of three, Arcuri compares the experience to giving birth.
“After I ran it I said I’m never going to do this again,” she said. “And then you just forget all about the pain and everything you went through and here I am doing it again this year.”
She prepared for this year’s marathon by training with her niece and her late husband’s brother, and said she received support from their family and friends.
Johanna Fields, a fellow teacher at Brook Avenue Elementary Schools, said she is inspired by Arcuri’s strength. “She’s one of those people who will pull up her boot straps and dig in deep and not give up on anything,” Fields said. “She’s tough. She’s been through a lot.”
In memory of her husband, Arcuri has his previous marathon number—17—painted on her fingernails. She and her supporters ran the race in red shirts with #RunForRich displayed on the front.
Arcuri said pushing through the tragedy and running the race last year made her stronger.
“It made me realize that I had more inside me than I ever thought,” she said.