This Sunday, about 50,000 international runners will cross the finish line in the New York Marathon. Marcus Samuelsson, Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised New Yorker who has cooked for all of the big names from Cindy Crawford to Barack Obama, intends to be among them.
For the last two months, the Michelin-starred chef has trained with Knox Robinson, the Nike+ Run Club coach, running through the 6.1-mile Central Park loop. The northern tip of the park is his home base - just a short sprint from his lauded restaurant, Red Rooster and close to the Harlem townhouse that he shares with his model and philanthropist wife, Maya Haile.
Samuelsson's athletic background started with playing football throughout his childhood and adolescence. For a while, he thought that would be his career and he wanted to go pro. But instead he found himself working hard in the kitchen and decided that was the path that he should take. Although he still plays football whenever he can and is on a team with a group of his friends who play almost every weekend in club games.
On a particularly hard day, Knox and Samuelsson run 12 miles through Central Park. They try to keep their pace as fast as possible. The stairs are usually a part of training.
"As a fellow runner - and a grown man - I don't have the coaching philosophy where I've got to hold his hand in this," Robinson observed. "He trained mostly alone. On race day, he's running 26.2 miles with his own feet."
The chef nods. "The marathon is a good way to look at commitment. You're going to hit these ups and downs, so you need to have a Plan B. If that kicks in, you've got to have a Plan C, but you never want to go to Plan D, because then you're quitting."