Black History 365: Leroy Cummins

We are highlighting examples of Black excellence throughout the year! Feel free to send us suggestions!

At 5 a.m. each day, 70 year-old Leroy Cummins can be found running the streets of Brooklyn. He has been an avid runner since the late ’60s and runs close to 50 miles a week. This Sunday, Cummins will be running his first New York City Marathon and is elated to be checking this item off his bucket list.

Training towards this goal has changed Cummins’ life. He is a diabetic and used to have sugar levels that were “off the books.” Diabetes runs in his family. Cummins was faced with immense loss after his mother and two of his sisters passed aways from the disease. He said exercise gave him the strength and knowledge to watch his weight, eat nutritiously and take care of his health. In fact, he no longer needs to take medication for his diabetes.

Beyond the physical benefits, Cummins’ relies on running for his mental health. Ironically, he views running as an opportunity to relax, equating it to “brushing my teeth in the morning.” After hitting the road, Cummins feels like he can “conquer the whole world.”

Cummins has been a “Strider” for about three years. New York Road Runner Striders is a free walking and fitness program that helps seniors get active, stay fit and improve their health. Cummins hopes to encourage folks around his age to keep exercising and prioritizing their wellbeing, proving that you can be an athlete at any age. As he gears up for 26.2 miles, he hopes other seniors will feel encouraged enough to say, “If Leroy can do it, maybe I can do it just as well, or at least get started.”

While the goal for Cummins’ is to pace himself and “finish the task at hand,’’ he is expected to do so at a remarkable time. Back in 2018, he ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon at a 7:37-mile pace, coming in fourth for his age group.

For Cummins, running this marathon is “bigger than the birthday.” He views it as a huge celebration that his family, friends and dog, Ginger, will attend. Cummins says there will be a “posse” along the sidelines to cheer him on and take lots of pictures.