All posts by Justin Burke

PPTCers have sweet thoughts after a bitter Cherry Tree

It might have been Valentine’s Day, but around 9:55 a.m. on Sunday morning in Prospect Park, there weren’t many runners in love with the prospect of racing.

The reason, of course, was the frigid weather. One of the Prospect Park Track Club’s signature events, the Cherry Tree 10-Miler & Relay, just happened to fall on one of the coldest mornings in years. The temperature at race time was in the single digits and the wind made it feel less than zero.

“I’ve never run a PPTC race before,” said recent member Nicholas Cohen before he headed to the starting line. “I guess this is trial by fire – or more like ice.”

Racers and volunteers, all warming up. (Photo: Tifenn Python)
Racers, volunteers, and cheerers, all warming up. (Tifenn Python)

Not all members were daunted by the thermometer. Bjorn Arnsten, a native of Norway who ran the relay race with his two sons, took the weather in stride. “It’s like springtime,” he said. “We get this kind of weather in Norway in May.”

Etan Levavi, another new PPTC member, was mildly apprehensive before the starting horn blared. “I’ve never run in such cold weather,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Adam Devine's post-race selfie.
Adam Devine’s post-race selfie.

Levavi did just fine, registering the fastest time of any PPTC club member, finishing the 10-miler in 1:02:40. That placed him 16th overall, good for second in the male 20-24 age group. [Click here for all results]

Shan Haq, who finished just behind Levavi in 1:03:14 (3rd in male 20-24), was among the daring few who ran in shorts. “I drove up from Delaware this morning,” he explained. “It was a lot warmer there.”

Overall, the PPTC men had six out of the first 30 finishers. Following Levavi and Haq were Spencer Gallop (21st), Arnie Flores (24th, also in shorts), Tyghe Trimble (27th) and Allan Co (29th).

PPTC rock star Mariela Quintana, the fastest woman from Brooklyn in the 2015 New York City Marathon, led the club’s women’s team. Quintana was the fourth woman finisher overall, running a 1:06:26.

Quintana acknowledged the conditions weren’t optimal and her time was a bit slower than she had hoped. “It was a tough race, but I am proud of myself and everyone who came out,” she said. “I’ll use it as incentive to train harder for the warmer and faster spring races ahead!”

Crazy men. (Photo: Andy Wong)
Crazy men. (Andy Wong)

Other notable finishes from PPTC women included Jana Trenk, who ran the course in 1:09:40, good for third in the female 25-29 age group.

Hats off to Emily Whitfield. Her 1:17:52 made her the fastest woman ages 50-54. And kudos also go to Joelle Reeves, who took home a coveted beer mug for finishing third in the female ages 30-34 group.

After the race, many runners reported that the weather conditions, while difficult, were perhaps better than they had feared. The wind was a factor on the uphills at Grand Army Plaza, but it was comparatively warm on other parts of the course.

Trenk called it a strange race, one in which her pace varied widely. “Some miles I did in the 6:30 range, others were 7:30s,” she said.

Ultimately, it was a day in which the volunteers, more than the runners themselves, deserved the medals for braving the elements and putting on a great race.

Weekend Race Wrap: April 27-28

Runners took advantage of optimal weather during a full slate of races in New York this past weekend.

Almost 7,000 runners completed Sunday’s Run as One (4M), organized by New York Road Runners in Central Park. The usual suspects from WSX and NYAC dominated both the men’s and women’s field.

PPTC participation was relatively modest with 13 club members listed among the finishers (although there are ongoing issues with NYRR listing club affiliation). The top PPTC male finisher was George Feely with a nifty time of 25:28. Matt Strawn completed the mini-loop in 27:58. Tina-Marie Rosenberger claimed top PPTC female and 6th in her age group, with a time of 26:34. Another notable performance was registered by Rosa Nales, who also finished 6th in her age group.

Saturday’s Verrazano Festival of Races, organized by NYCRUNS, drew hundreds of participants for a 5k, 10k and a half-marathon along The Narrows. In the marquee event, the half, David Kinz was the top male finisher in 1:25:58, while Jackie Adamshick was first among the women at 1:32:02. Among PPTC participants, Oren Efrati took 2nd in his age group and finished 22nd overall with a time of 1:35:58.

Other, smaller races taking place over the weekend included the Matchmaker 5k on Roosevelt Island, the Run for Hope 5k run/walk in Prospect Park, and the Lincoln Tunnel 5k, which benefited Special Olympics New Jersey.

How did your run go this weekend? Speak up below!

Emphasis Again on Safety at Weekend Races

This weekend’s races in New York City will again feature tightened security measures, so runners should get to the events on the early side, race officials are saying.

The headline events for runners this weekend are the Verrazano Festival of Races, starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Shore Road Park Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and the Run-as-One four miler taking place Sunday at 8:30 a.m. in Central Park. Another weekend option is the Run for Hope 5k run/walk, to be held in Prospect Park at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

PPTC’s very own Steve Lastoe, the founder and driving force behind NYCRUNS, the organizer of the Verrazano Festival, urged runners not to bring bags to the races, if at all possible. Organizers are “reserving the right to search bags (and will search oversize bags) and throw unattended baggage into the river,” he said in an email interview.

The Verrazano Festival features three races, a 5k and 10k, along with a half-marathon that is slated to start at 9:30 a.m. The races are sold out.

The Run-as-One race, organized by New York Road Runners, will have the same security procedures that were in effect for last weekend’s Run for the Parks, according to Skip Stiles, a NYRR representative. The increased focus on security comes in response to the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

“We are complying with the security measures put in place with the NYPD,” Stiles said. The Run-as-One race is not sold out, and those still interested can sign up on site early Sunday morning. Over 8,000 runners participated in last year’s Run-as-One event.

Both Stiles and Lastoe indicated that tightened security measures will be in place for the foreseeable future, but did not go so far as to say they were “the new normal.”

Given the new security situation, a big logistical challenge is looming for NYRR, which recently decided to expand the field for the Brooklyn half-marathon in May. Last year, just over 14,000 runners completed the route, stretching from the Botanical Gardens to the Coney Island boardwalk. This year, according to Stiles, the race could have upwards of 25,000 entrants, almost the same size as the Boston Marathon.

NYCRun’s Lastoe hopes to take the very popular Brooklyn Marathon out of Prospect Park and on to the streets of King’s County in the near future. He says he doesn’t expect current security concerns to hinder those plans. He added that early indicators suggest most runners remain committed to organized racing.

“It’s a strong community. No one is running away,” he said.