NEW YORK (WCBS 888) – Instead of lacing up his skates, a Rangers great will be lacing up his sneakers on Sunday.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

In 1994, the former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier led the team to its first Stanley Cup title in over 50 years. Now, 17 years later, he’s running his first marathon, and it’s the world’s biggest – the New York City Marathon.

“You always have challenges when you’re playing, but when you’re retired, those challenges aren’t so readily available,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

EXTRA: Your Guide To The New York City Marathon

Despite being a superior athlete, the 50-year-old is like any other runner.

“I’m not that young anymore. So it was some painful days of first starting out,” he said.

He’s found the training surprisingly therapeutic and says it’s a “form of relaxation in a sense.”

Messier is also raising money and awareness for two charities that help the children of 9/11 victims.

“I feel very responsible for trying to make a difference in these kids’ and families’ lives,” he said.

In the fall of 2001, the Rangers were supposed to stay at the World Trade Center Marriott and train at Chelsea Piers, but the team didn’t fit. So, it had to move elsewhere.

“The simple fact that the dressing rooms were too small that changed, altered a lot of people’s lives. We were lucky. Other people weren’t and because of it, I feel indebted and responsible to help,” he said. “Turning 50 this year also gave a reason to shoot for something and do something that was constructive and something that, perhaps, I would have to stretch, not only physically, but mentally.”

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