Running for their lives

A Bayonne marathoner competes for a cause

Bayonne resident Christina Timoldi, 24, will compete in the New York City Marathon in November, not just to achieve her personal best but to help those less fortunate. She will be running for Back on My Feet, a corporate-sponsored organization that seeks to provide poor and homeless people with training and employment opportunities. Companies such as Macy’s, CVS, AT&T, and Marriott participate.
Back on My Feet finds employment for more than 450 people nationally every year through its “workforce development program,” which recruits homeless people or those at risk of homelessness to run three days a week. After 30 days, participants with 90-percent attendance receive “educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources,” according to its website.
The group sponsors runners like Timoldi to compete for charity. She gets family and friends to donate funds through her fundraising page, money is then used to provide services to the homeless people, who meet the organization’s criteria.She began running in middle school, around the same time her grandfather took her and her siblings and cousins to volunteer at shelters. “He would speak with people at different shelters and serve them food, and even sing for them,” she said. Her grandfather suffered from alcoholism and addiction as a young man, which fed his compassion and compulsion to serve. She’s running in his footsteps.


“Homeless people are in some kind of dire straits, and they need a community to support them.” – Christina Timoldi

Advocacy and running

For years Timoldi, who attends church at Hoboken Grace,volunteered at the Hoboken Shelter, the Goodwill of Newark, and the New York City Mission. She also partnered with the Hoboken Shelter for a community service project while at Nyack College in Manhattan. All this paved the way for led her advocacy as a marathon runner.
“Homeless people are in some kind of dire straits, and they need a community to support them,” Timoldi said. She hopes her sponsorship can help them find that community, and in turn find their passion. “Even though I’ve never been homeless, my community has impacted me the most and has helped push me along,” Timoldi said.“I think you just have to find what it is you’re passionate about.”

Homelessness in New Jersey

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 annual report showed New Jersey’s homeless population declined, which put it ahead of 45 other states. Last month, Monarch Housing, a NJ non-profit dedicated to ending homeless, published its 2016 Point in Time Homeless Count, which showed homelessness rates declined in New Jerseyby 12.3 percent over the previous year.
In Hudson County earlier this year, the Board of Freeholders authorized a plan distributing $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Block Grant between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 to three Jersey City organizations to combat homelessness in the county. One was the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development.

Intense training

Timoldi has run in the Philadelphia Marathon and the New Jersey Marathon in the past, but is running two marathons this season—the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in Albany on October 9 and the New York CityMarathon on November 6. “I wasn’t planning on doing two in a season,” she said,” but for an issue like homelessness, that’s why I said yes.”
Training for two marathons is no easy task. “I’m basically running every day,” she said. “I’m constantly running on tired legs.” Running on tired legs is the whole point of the 16-week training program she follows called Hanson’s Method, where the longest run during the training process is 16 miles, while a marathon is 26.2 miles. “It’s going to be tough, but the method works,” she said.
Running such long distances requires motivation, something Timaldi says comes from her running community. “I have a great running group that I’m part of called the New Jersey running project, and they push me to become faster than I’ve ever been.”
Her personal record is 3:29.10, but she’s shooting for 3:15 at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. For the New York City Marathon so soon after, she says, “Right now, I’m just focusing on getting faster.”

Rory Pasquariello may be reached at

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group