Despite the heat, a record Summer Speed Series turnout

On a gorgeous Wednesday evening in Prospect Park, a record 378 runners finished the first installment of the 2016 Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series. Here are the full results. And, courtesy of Larry Sillen, here are photos! Feel free to download and share as you wish.

The second of seven races is June 8; to register, please visit our main page.

2016 Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series
Recaps: Register:
May 25 June 8 June 22 July 6 July 20 Aug 3 Aug 17

Participants often find the Summer Speed Series, with its midweek schedule and relatively short distance, hard to resist. "I like that it's quick – just the nuts and bolts," said longtime PPTC member Jim Israel, who claimed second in the men's 70+ division. "It's unadorned."

"For me it's special because everyone knows who I am and it's a familiar crowd," said Michael Ring, PPTC vice president and one of the race directors of the series. "I love the excitement at the starting line. Plus, the crowd gets my jokes."

The series has grown rapidly over the past few years; in 2011, for example, the average turnout was around 125, and everyone was scored by hand. Working behind the scenes, a large contingent of PPTC members kept things smooth at bib pick-up, along the course, and at the after-party.

"We had more help than we expected," said Club President Tom Meany. "It's always gratifying to have such an outpouring of volunteers."

DWRT's Olivier Wijtenburg was the first to cross the finish line, winning the men's division in 16:12. He has used the Summer Speed Series as a benchmark for improvement."Two years ago I ran my first 5K ever here in 18:50. Last year, it was 16:48," Wijtenburg said. "You see the same group of people each week, so you know how to pace yourself."

The temperature, which hovered around 80 degrees at the start, was a common talking point, but some runners found solace along the course. "It was a little hot, but there was a good breeze," said Tom Anderson, who took third among men in 17:10. "The toughest part is staying strong after the big hill – pushing the pace is really difficult."

PPTC's Joelle Reeves started running in October, but finished third on the women's side tonight. Her previous race experience included this February's Cherry Tree 10-Miler, which featured single-digit temperatures. "It was good in the cold," she said. "I thought so much about the weather that I wasn't thinking about the running."

As for dealing with the heat, Wijtenburg had the best solution: "I'm going to buy a beer," he said.

Keith Williams