ROOSEVELT ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- FDNY Battalion Chief Joe Downey is usually the first one to suit up when the alarm sounds and sirens wail, but as the TCS New York City Marathon approaches, his off-the-clock time is spent focusing on training and preparation.
Downey said it's a way for him to stay active, competitive, and challenge himself.
This year, for his sixth marathon, Downey will be joined by his two nieces, Nicolette, and Gina Tortorici.
They call themselves "Team Moved Me" to honor his father, Deputy Chief Ray Downey, Sr., who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Downey said he looks forward to running in his father's memory, along with his nieces.
"For the run or life in general, in the firehouse, I'm always thinking about his values, his character," Downey said. "(I'm) looking forward to running in his memory, in a way, with my nieces."
The chief ran his first marathon with his father in 1981, and that being athletic and competitive was in his father's nature.
The elder Downey even led the department's hockey team when he was alive, and his active lifestyle was an example to his son.
"We watched him skate, we watched him run marathons," he said. "So he instilled that in us, to follow his way."
Though Downey hopes that his own daughter, Carlee, will join him in running a marathon one day, it's his own running that speaks to him the loudest.
"I like to get up, get a run in, get my day going," he said. "After you clear your mind, clear your head, and make sure that you are ready to go for the day."
And preparing for this marathon is another of life's personal challenges.
"You want to instill in your children, like my dad instilled in us, go for that challenge," he said. "Challenge yourself every day."
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FDNY chief to run TCS NYC Marathon in father's honor