Like all sports organizations, New York Road Runners has been tested financially by the pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the New York City Half Marathon, the Brooklyn Half Marathon and the New York City Marathon. The resulting losses led the organization to lay off or furlough 40 percent of its staff of 229 this year.
In the wake of Capiraso’s dismissal, several current and former employees went public with complaints about the organization’s management.
Frances Alvarado, 26, who is now a teacher, worked at N.Y.R.R. for nearly two years. She said she left in 2019 after she was called an “educated Puerto Rican woman” on multiple occasions, mocked for speaking Spanish, and told to take pictures of people of color for use on the organization’s social media accounts.
“Hopefully they fill that position with someone who reflects the interests of the team and who cares about health and the running community more than the appearance of the company or N.Y.R.R. as a product,” she said.
Janet Cupo, 65, worked for 30 years registering people for races before leaving the Road Runners in 2015. She said Capiraso’s move to automate registration online, where credit cards are required, served to exclude low-income runners, some of whom were minorities. When she suggested a change in the policy, she said, her ideas were rejected.
Sam Dupuis, 29, who has worked with the organization for three years and coordinates running programs, was hopeful the leadership change would result in a more intense focus on including communities of color.
“Our achievements in recent years, while still wonderful in their own right, have not allowed us to be as connected to all of the communities in our area,” Dupuis said.