On his long summer runs in Brooklyn, around Green-Wood Cemetery and up to Prospect Park and back, Tyrone Alomia, 32, occasionally takes off his shirt to keep cool. The four-time marathoner loves to explore his borough on foot even when it’s sweltering. His runner’s high, though, is often interrupted by street-side snickers, particularly in his own neighborhood, Sunset Park.
“Man, that guy’s got boobs,” one onlooker remarks.
“Why is this guy wearing tights in the street?” another stranger sneers.
But the worst offender might be the seemingly innocent thumbs-up.
“I’m not dying here—I’m just running,” says Alomia, challenging stereotypes of what a “typical” runner should look like. Those sorts of reactions are part of what motivates the Pansa Boyz, four first-generation Latin American men born and bred in New York City, to run relay races shirtless. At a combined weight of nearly half a ton, the Pansa Boyz are trying to show that running is for everyone, regardless of shape or size.
Alomia admits he could stand to lose some weight, but it’s not his driving factor for lacing up. “It’s about maintenance, socializing and getting better at it,” he explains, adding that he wants to run a sub-two-hour half-marathon.
“What I love about running is that you’re not competing against anyone but yourself—I’m just trying to keep up with my body and what I can do,” says fellow Pansa Boy Emmanuel “Bodega” Rodriguez, who logs 20 miles a week. What started out as a hashtag (“panza” is Spanish for “belly”) turned into a team in early 2019. While working at a Nike store in midtown Manhattan, Rodriguez and Alomia hatched a plan to participate in The North Face Endurance Challenge on New York’s Bear Mountain that May.