“She would love that I’m doing this in her memory to raise money for other people, because her life was always about doing for other people.”
With those words, WPIX/Channel 11 reporter Magee Hickey is preparing to run her first New York City Marathon. She formed a Channel 11 team to run on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Hickey’s mother Jean died of colon cancer five years ago.
While the New York native takes pride in exploring news experiences, a 26.2 mile jaunt across the five boroughs definitely goes to a different level.
“They stress your first marathon is not about speed, because if you run too quickly in the beginning then you’ll have nothing left for the back half of it,” Hickey tells FishbowlNY. “A lot of people get injured. Lots of people are limping and never run again.”
The idea for Hickey’s marathon took root as a story idea from her assistant (now interim) news director John Houseman. WPIX is a media co-sponsor of the race, working with the American Cancer Society. Houseman assigned Hickey to work on a series of profiles documenting cancer survivors who were running in the half marathon.
That’s when it hit the veteran broadcast journalist. She was a cancer survivor, who suggested going through the rigors of training and ultimately running. But a cautious Houseman wasn’t pushing her to participate. He just wanted his reporter to keep her mic in hand, meeting with the cancer survivors regularly for updates on their training. Hickey wanted more, and she got permission to run. However, she was told that her inclusion wasn’t “the story.”
No matter, a determined Hickey set forth with her new “passion.” She completed that half marathon last spring.
“I just loved this group of people,” Hickey says.
She bonded with the previously untrained cancer survivors, most times without having a TV camera following her every move. Hickey, who joked that she couldn’t even run around the block, was by no means ready to take off her sneakers.
“This is so much fun. You get that runner’s high,” Hickey admits. “Everyone on the team was saying, ‘Now that we’ve done that let’s try for a full marathon.’”
A nonplussed Hickey, 56 (at the time), thought she might be in over her head.
“I can’t possibly run a full marathon,” Hickey recalls.
Although Hickey has a slow tempo on the track, she hasn’t suffered any injuries. Her coach said with proper training Hickey could take on the big race.
Now that her running confidence has improved, Hickey asked her WPIX colleagues to join the charity mission from the Verrazano Bridge to Central Park. She assembled a team of a dozen Channel 11 employees, including another on-air talent, reporter Dan Mannarino, also particpating in first New York City Marathon.
She says the team has raised more than $25,000. You can donate by clicking on Hickey’s fundraising page.
Of course, Hickey, a longtime “storyteller,” is also thinking about covering her own marathon.
“On the half marathon, they tried a hat cam,” Hickey remembers. “We did a test run the day before and it really didn’t work properly. Because of the way I was holding my head, the hat cam was pointed to the ground.”
She says PIX will have a camera recording the exploits of Hickey and Mannarino, along with other staffers.
Hickey predicts she’ll finish her initial marathon November 4 in the six- to seven-hour range.
It will give her plenty of time to remember and reflect on her beloved mom.
“I try as I run to keep a smile on my face and not to look like the end of the world,” Hickey says.