New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organization that plans and executes the New York City Marathon, has named Rob Simmelkjaer as CEO. He will succeed Kerin Hempel, who accepted the role on a temporary basis in November 2020.
“I am delighted and honored to join NYRR at such a crucial time,” Simmelkjaer said in a press release. “Running has the unique ability to improve our physical and mental health, connect us and inspire positive community change. I look forward to working closely with NYRR’s talented staff, passionate volunteers, diverse communities, and many partners and stakeholders.
Prior to joining NYRR, Simmelkjaer spent time at ESPN and NBC Sports Ventures in various executive and management positions. He has also worked as an on-air contributor for ABC News, ESPN, NBC Sports and Tennis Channel, among others, and he anchored MSNBC’s coverage of the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. More recently, Simmelkjaer founded Persona Media Inc., a digital and social media platform, and served in a pro bono role as Chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Board of Directors.
Simmelkjaer will assume the role on November 15, a week after the 2022 New York City Marathon race on November 6. This year, the marathon returns to full capacity of 50,000 runners after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and limited to a reduced field size in 2021.
In 2020, NYRR has gone through some turmoil as an organization. First, it announced it was laying off 11% of its staff and laying off an additional 28% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that year, then-CEO Michael Capiraso was accused of racism and sexism in the workplace, by reports of Runner’s world. These allegations led Capiraso to step down from his role.
Among other leadership changes, Nnenna Lynch was named to serve as NYRR’s next president; George Hirsch, the current president, will become president emeritus on June 30, 2023.