Western New York native Mary Wittenberg is leaving her position as the head of the New York Road Runners, which runs the New York City Marathon.
Wittenberg is leaving to become the global chief executive officer of Virgin Sport, which is billed as a new event-centered lifestyle company that is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd.
Wittenberg joined NYRR in 1998 and was promoted to president and CEO in 2005. She was the first woman to hold that position. Wittenberg serves as race director for the New York marathon, which last year had more than 50,000 runners and raised almost $35 million for charity. In that position she was considered one of the top women sports administrators in the world.
Wittenberg called the new position “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“The Virgin brand stands for fun, innovation and making a difference,” she said in a prepared statement. “I’ve seen first hand over and over the transformative power of sport in people’s lives. Marrying Virgin and Sport, we want to create a new paradigm – sport for all.”
Wittenberg was born in Buffalo and grew up in the South Buffalo/West Seneca region. She took up running as a senior at Canisius College, and eventually qualified for the 1988 Olympic trials in the marathon. Wittenberg was inducted into the Western New York Running Hall of Fame in 2014.