When the International Physical Literacy Conference kicks off in New York City from May 2 to 5, it will be co-hosted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR). Taking the stage as one of the keynotes will be CEO Rob Simmelkjaer, who took over leadership of the premier running organization in late 2022. His May 5 presentation will be focused on mental health and comes during Mental Health Awareness Month.

To his new role, Simmelkjaer brings experience in sport leadership, an ability to guide strategic transformation, and a commitment to the mission of helping and inspiring people through running.

Simmelkjaer has been quoted as saying, “Running has the unique ability to improve our physical and mental health, bring us closer together, and inspire positive community change.”

From sports broadcaster to street runner

An avid runner and experienced sports business executive, Simmelkjaer is a two-time New York City Marathon finisher from New York City. He has worked as a government official and has a record of leadership and performance across various sport and media organizations. During his nine-year tenure at ESPN, he served in a number of positions including Vice President of International Development, Vice President and Assistant to the President, and Director of NBA Programming. In 2011 he was named Senior Vice President of NBC Sports Ventures, where he led new business development and created and oversaw several NBC Sports properties.

In addition to his executive roles, Simmelkjaer has served as an on-air contributor for ABC News, ESPN, NBC Sports, NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, and the Tennis Channel. He anchored MSNBC’s coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. Most recently, Simmelkjaer founded Persona Media Inc., a social media platform and video production service.

In 2020, Simmelkjaer was appointed by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to serve in a volunteer role as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Lottery. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named him one of Connecticut’s “100 Most Influential” African-Americans in 2021.

Simmelkjaer is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in New York City at Weil, Gotshal and Manges and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Join NYRR for group runs through Central Park and along the Hudson River

During IPLC, there will be multiple events led by NYRR where delegates can experience for themselves the transformative power of running. The first will be a run through Central Park held on May 4 during the lunch and activity break, between 12 to 4 p.m. EDT. Depending on interest, NYRR  also plans to offer morning runs along the Hudson River on Wednesday and Friday morning.

Take part in a New York Road Runners workshop

Also offered during the conference will be an active workshop session on May 3 called NYRR Striders: Walking and Beyond. The session will specifically show recommended practices for working with adults and older adults, through running. The program will also connect participants to a community of like-minded adults determined to prove that athletes have no age limits. The 60-minute session will focus on the new “Beyond” component of NYRR Striders, which refers to fitness. 

This coach-led activity will demonstrate the importance of proper warm-up and cool-down for any activity, especially for older adults, and also include cueing, modelling and modifying for all experience levels, as well as fun and camaraderie in fitness classes. The demo will include a developmental and musical approach to a structured warm-up, drumming with sticks, band work, across-the-floor movements and games. NYRR will also share best practices on activity adaptations for space, music and equipment.

To register for IPLC, click here. Visit sportforlife.ca/iplc for updates and to book accommodation. Check out our detailed program here.

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