Allan H. Steinfeld, 70, known for modernizing the technical operations of the New York City Marathon and as a beloved math and physics teacher in Rye Neck who volunteered with Road Runners, died Tuesday, Jan. 24.
The cause was multiple system atrophy, a neurological disease, according to his brother Jay Cody.
Steinfeld, along with Fred Lebow, an impulsive entrepreneur in Manhattan’s garment district, began in 1970 to grow the race from a field of 127 runners to one with tens of thousands.
“Fred would throw out all kinds of crazy ideas, and I would reel them in,” Steinfeld was quoted saying in the book “The New York City Marathon: 25 Years," by Peter Gambaccini. “That’s what we, as a team, were all about.”
By the time he was named the marathon’s technical director in 1981, Steinfeld had improved the management of the start and finish lines, as well as how to record results and came up with the system to register runners online. Much of the improvements were done along with his wife, Alice Schneider, who oversaw information technology for Road Runners. Ms. Schneider passed away last year of cancer.
Steinfeld was born in Manhattan on June 7, 1946, to Sam Steinfeld and the former Faye Litsky and homemaker.
He graduated from City College with a degree in electrical engineering and received a master’s degree in radio astronomy from Cornell University. While he was working on a doctorate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Steinfeld was blinded in the left eye by the antenna wire of a radio tower.
In 1978, he took a pay cut to become Lebow’s personal assistant. In 1993, after more than 12 years as technical director, Steinfeld was named the organization’s president when Lebow was being treated for brain cancer.
A year later, following Lebow’s death, Steinfeld was named the chief executive of the marathon.
In addition to his brother, Steinfeld is survived by his other brother, Abba Steinfeld.
As a young man, Steinfeld was a sprinter but never competed in the race that he helped create.