Letter from the President: Harry’s Handicap

On January 1, 2013 we will not only celebrate New Year’s Day, but also follow in a great Prospect Park Track Club tradition of participating in the annual Harry’s Handicap Race.

This year’s race will celebrate the 20th year of celebrating Harry’s life since his passing. It will be very special. Harry Murphy was a founding father not only of PPTC, but also of NYRR. He wanted us to be more special than them.

Harry wanted his runners to drink less on New Year’s Eve and be focused on giving their best performance on the next morning in a race where each Club member had an opportunity with a handicap to win, instead of watching the back of the faster members’ shorts as in any other race during the year. It was a time to seize an opportunity. He also encouraged Club members to invite friends. The race was for Club members and invited guests, as it remains. The course was always one loop of the Park.

The annual tradition continues, but has evolved. None of us presently have Harry’s handicapping skills (Matt Strawn will try his hand at it this year) and there are too many of us. Back then we had less than 200 members, maybe 30 to 60 showed up; today we have over 600 members and we are moving beyond 60 runners using electronic timing. Welcome to the electronic age of trying to honor Harry’s tradition. Steve Lastoe, Matt, and I are serving as the organizing committee.

So we now have a race that rewards those Club members who will pre-register online. Those who do not provide us with the data we need to handicap the field will be hit with a big penalty. With such a large membership base we want to do the majority of handicapping beforehand, so the race can go off right at 10:00 a.m. without long backup lines of last-minute registrants.

This will be a very special event. Harry died in January 1992, so very few current members know him. Regina Cahill, an active runner and former President will provide a short slide show documenting his life. Additionally, she will be donating a limited number Harry’s own medals as awards. These will truly be collector’s items and treasured by Club member recipients.

Registration is at the Knights of Columbus Hall of 10th Ave. just south of Prospect Park South starting at 8:30 a.m. (N.B. It is in your best interest to pre-register online!). We will also have our awards ceremony and post race celebration here.

Traditionally, this is a potluck brunch, where members bring leftovers from New Year’s Eve to contribute to the fare, as well as drink. We will supplement the spread with some coffee and bagels.

It is a great way to start the New Year, running a race and socializing with all of your fellow Club members. See you all there!

Tom Meany 

©2014 Prospect Park Track Club