By Rick Gladstone
The runners’ attire reflects their varying tolerances for the cold. Richard Arbeiter of Canada, center, was hatless. (Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times)
UNITED NATIONS — They meet in the predawn darkness outside Central Park, less than three kilometers from the United Nations, where many of them often encounter one another, exchanging knowing glances or a runner-to-runner handshake.
Chugging through the dimly lit park on a 30-minute jog, they pass dog walkers, other runners and the occasional homeless person, stopping on a bridge midway through for a group photo and selfies.
The group of ambassadors and other diplomats call themselves the “PRunners” — named for the titles held by many as permanent representatives to the United Nations.
On a recent morning, they convened in a frigid pre-winter chill. The range of attire reflected their varying tolerances for the cold.
Richard Arbeiter, the deputy permanent representative of Canada, was hatless and wore shorts. Amal Mudallali, the permanent representative of Lebanon, wore long pants, a jacket, and a headband around her ears.
The diplomats may not always agree on proper running attire or on everything in world affairs. But their weekly runs have bonded them in ways often missing in other gatherings of disparate United Nations diplomats.
“For me, the runners group is a bit like going to the sauna — everyone is equal,” said Kai Sauer, Finland’s permanent representative, who coordinates and often leads the runs. “Diplomacy is very hierarchical, but we leave our titles at home when we enter Central Park. It’s more about human than professional interaction.”
Mr. Sauer, who has run seven marathons, said he never canceled the runs and insists that everyone arrive promptly at 6:30 a.m. — “no exceptions.”
While the banter on the runs may veer into politics or the day’s meetings, it can also focus on aching joints and issues faced by working parents.
Part of the reason for the predawn timing, some members said, is that they need to get home to shower and ready their children for school.
The group, whose members range in age from 40 to 60, has become known as one of the more tightly knit networks among the diplomats who periodically rotate through United Nations missions in New York. Several ambassadors besides Mr. Sauer are marathoners, and celebrate their running accomplishments with one another via social media and WhatsApp.
Craig Hawke, the permanent representative of New Zealand, who ran his first New York City Marathon this year, called the Central Park jogs a welcome start to the day and “incredibly cathartic.”
Ms. Mudallali said she had learned about the group on Facebook while living in Washington, and wanted to join when she arrived last year as Lebanon’s first female ambassador to the United Nations.
Still, Ms. Mudallali said she did not share the passion of her northern-climate counterparts to run in the snow.
“I’m from Lebanon,” she said.