FORT LEE, N.J. — A Fort Lee native is running in this weekend's New York City Marathon to benefit an Armenian organization that helped his cousin's career.
“I’m helping the organization that helped her earn her MFA. I want to show my appreciation,” said Armen Azarnia, 45, whose first marathon will support the Armenian Students’ Association, which helped his cousin, Karen Azarnia.
Azarnia, a realtor with Keller Williams, runs his own contracting company, Fort Lee's Acacia Property Advisors LLC. He grew up in Iran and France and attended Riverdale Country School in the Bronx.
He speaks five languages and regularly participates in several sports, including skiing, tennis, running and scuba diving.
With marathon running, “there’s a lot of pounding on the feet and joints," he said. "It’s about building up the endurance and stamina. You have to have the mental fortitude.
"All of the donors and sponsors that contributed -- that keeps me going as well. I don’t want to let down all who donated.”
Azarnia earned her degree from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. She completed the installation of her work in the last of three venues, a requirement before she earned the degree. She's currently a lecturer at the Riverside Arts Center in Chicago.
So far, her cousin is halfway towards his $3,000 goal, thanks to family and friends.
His goal for the race itself?
"To beat the Kenyans," Azarnia said, joking. "No -- my aim is to finish in under six hours. It takes diligence.”
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