Congratulations to Our PRH Colleagues & 2023 NYC Marathoners!


PRH colleague, John Barrack (r), and friends, with their medals.

On November 5, approximately 50,000 runners made their way through New York City’s five boroughs. The New York City marathon, first organized in 1970 and with just 127 participants, has now grown to become the largest marathon in the world and this year, several of our Penguin Random House colleagues participated!

Congratulations to our super star colleagues and read their stories below.

John Barrack, Temporary HR Assistant, HR Generalist & Recruiting

John Noble Barrack

I was one of the folks who ran the NYC Marathon on Sunday and WOW was that the most humbling, exhausting, and fun experiences of my life! I ran with three friends and we finished together in 4:44:52 – just 8 seconds under our agreed goal time.

The best moment could have been the worst: while crossing the Queensboro bridge, a bunch of us runners were passing a gentleman in a wheelchair, let’s call him Dave. Dave was struggling on the uphill climb but adamant he could make it. While descending the other side, one of his wheels got caught, sending Dave sliding on the ground. About five of us, myself included, huddled around Dave to help get him back on his wheelchair. Without much thinking, he checked to make sure he was ok, gave us the thumbs up, and kept going. He was laser focused on finishing and it was clear nothing would stand in his way. He was inspiring and an energy I hope to hold with me for a long, long time. 

Jena DeBois

Jena DeBois, Associate Manager, Marketing, Random House Marketing

I run because the running community is one of the kindest and most welcoming. Running can be hard and HURT, but running throughout the city reminds me why I love it so much.

I ran the marathon this year in memory of my grandmother who recently passed, and I felt her every step of the way. 

Dannalie Diaz, Manager, Digital Operations, Online Digital Sales

Dannalie Diaz,

I started this NYC marathon journey way back in the Before Times by doing the 9+1 program in 2019. I gained guaranteed entry for the 2020 run…and then 2020 happened. I never could have imagined it would take another 3 years to finally cross that finish line. The energy of the city—friends, family, and strangers alike—powered me through when putting one foot in front of another felt impossible.

Thank you, New York, for one of the most memorable experiences of my life! 

Thea James, Senior Director, Digital Customer Operations, Sales & Customer Operations

Thea James

The New York City Marathon is the best. It is the best marathon in the world, on the best day in the best city in the world. The marathon is a love letter to New York in all its glory, and I am humbled and honored to run it. It’s also one of the most challenging courses out there (I mean, it’s New York, of course it’s not easy!), but that makes crossing the finish line all the more meaningful.

Unpopular opinion, but my favorite part of the marathon is the Queensboro Bridge! It’s a monstrous incline without any spectators from miles 15-16, with just heavy breathing and footfall from other runners for company. It’s an introspective moment of the race, over halfway through the course, and a perfect moment to focus and get ready for the tough miles to come. Once you’ve crested the top of the bridge, next comes the best part: that hard-fought incline of 100+ feet leads to the crashing roar of spectators waiting for you as you cross into Manhattan. You hear and feel the wall of sound before you can see First Ave, and running all of the downhill of the bridge then making that left turn into the sea of people—who are cheering for YOU!—is worth every single hard moment of the race. 

Ellice Lee

Ellice Lee, Vice President, Senior Director, Art & Design, Viking Philomel

“Worst parade ever!” was a sign I saw repeatedly during the race and it brought a bigger smile to my face as the miles went up. The NYC marathon is the best city-wide street party in the world! Where else are you going to see pets, kids and adults from around the world running and cheering over 50,000 people for hours?! 

Running is a big release for me. It allows for solo time to focus on something else if I need a healthy distraction or simply to experience joy in nature. I’ve also found the running community to be incredibly positive and supportive. Though the NYC marathon is the hardest, the energy that comes from the people is unparalleled. I cry both running it and cheering complete strangers! 

Nick Magliato

Nicholas Magliato, Senior Editor, Pop Culture & Trends, Penguin Workshop

I run because a long, quiet run through Central Park early each morning helps set my mind and body right for the day ahead.  

So many favorite moments! Crossing over the Verrazano into Brooklyn was an epic start and the crowd energy during that final 800m in Central Park was the perfect way to finish. 

Stacey Stein


Stacey Stein, Manager, Publicity,  Crown

Marathon day is always the best day in New York, and I was inspired to give it a try!

I was very grateful in the leadup to get advice from colleagues who had run it before, as well as do some training runs with work friends – and it was so much fun to spot colleagues cheering me on along the course!

Posted: November 10, 2023