KATONAH, N.Y. - Gergely (“Greg”) Szatmari isn’t letting his training to go to waste.

The 40-year-old Katonah resident had been working hard to compete in the now-postponed London Marathon, originally scheduled for Sunday, April 26. But instead, Szatmari will run his 26.2 miles in the heart of Katonah in support of a half-dozen local restaurants that have been detrimentally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, May 3, Szatmari will run an approximate 0.8-mile loop (south on Katonah Avenue and north on Bedford Road) about 32 times. 

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Restaurants, which have been forced to lay off staff as they shift to take-out only, have been among the businesses hardest hit by social distancing. Local cafes and eateries that stand to benefit from his fundraiser are Little Joe’s Coffee & Books, The Whitlock, Jay Street Café, Blue Dolphin, Peppino’s Ristorante, and Tengda Asian Bistro. Katonah is home to many more restaurants, but Szatmari felt his fundraiser would be less effective if the proceeds were divided even more.

“I live in the Katonah community and I know a lot of the restaurant owners,” Szatmari said. “Obviously, they’re facing a difficult time right now with this coronavirus thing.”

Szatmari ran his idea by local officials, who have him the green light so long as he doesn’t draw a crowd. He’s agreed to keep the Katonah Marathon a solo race in 2020, but he hopes next year is a different story.

“It’s something that I’d like to do annually,” Szatmari said.

The only person joining Szatmari on his run is 75-year-old Rudy Lopez, a boxing trainer who owns Rudy’s Boxing in Mount Kisco. From his bicycle, Lopez will keep pace ahead of Szatmari.

On top of his fundraising efforts, Szatmari hopes his marathon will have another positive affect.

“I guess I kind of got tired of all the negative energy on TV and I thought this would be something positive to do,” Szatmari said.

“I want to remind people that it’s going to be OK to go outside soon. I thought it would bring some good energy and good vibes for the month of May.”

Szatmari trained mostly as a boxer until 2016 when he was involved in a motorcycle accident.

“I basically couldn’t work out and started running,” Szatmari said. “I ran a mile, then I ran 2, then I ran 8.”

On a whim, Szatmari entered himself and his fiancé at the time (now his wife) into the New York City Marathon, which would be the first of nine marathons he’s run since 2016. The London Marathon was going to be his 10th. Szatmari has qualified for the marathons by running for different charities.

“To me, it became a healthy addiction,” Szatmari said. “I run all the time. It’s great meditation. It keeps you in shape. And you can eat anything you want.”

Running a marathon on such a short course is a new experience for Szatmari and presents difficulties from a distance-running standpoint, but the Katonah resident is ready to play his part in helping to heal the community. 

“It’ll be challenging,” he said, “but if the people come together, I’ll run two of them if I have to.”

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