I haven’t been posting very much lately because of my insane schedule. What’s that old quote…”Life is what what happens when you are busy making other plans”. Well my plans included a brief break from the stress of daily life…until reality basically told me cancel my plans and get the hell back to work. So much for the mental break I so desperately needed.
I was lucky enough to have the time to run the 2016 New York City Half Marathon last Sunday, March 20th. I wanted to provide my readers with a brief review, just in case anyone was considering running in next year and beyond. So without further gilding the lily, off we go…..
The Expo: Held in the flatiron section of Manhattan, it was easy to get to by mass transit, and it was open and well-staffed during the week. Picking up your bib and your race shirt is a quick and easy process – I was in and out of the expo within minutes.
Pre-Race: OK, let’s be honest here – security was tight for this race, as it had been in prior years. Each runner has to go through a metal detector – and there are not many of them – in order to gain access to Central Park and the runners’corrals. There were plenty of bottlenecks and the wait time was a bit annoying; however, in light of what occurred in Belgium just yesterday, let’s just appreciate the added level of safety that these precautions provide – waiting in line is a small price to pay. If you don’t like lines, then show up early with a blanket and a book. The race was organized into three waves, set of go off with spaces of 15 minutes in between each. Accessing the corrals was easy, and there were plenty of port-o-crappers available to runners right after they passed through the security check. Runners were able to check a clear plastic bag with your bib number affixed to it before you walked through the TSA-like checkpoint. They also had a number of large blue bins inside and outside the corrals for depositing any layers of old clothing you may have worn to keep warm before the start.
The Course: This course has changed a few times over the years. The 2016 version of the race began along the east side drive of Central Park, right near the 72nd Street Transverse. Within the first quarter mile of the race, the runners climb Cat Hill, and then head north along the outer loop. Just after you pass the hockey rink at the northeaster-most section of the park, you turn west along the outer loop, and then exit the park briefly on Central Park North. A quick out and back brings you back into the park at the 3 mile marker. From there, you climb Harlem Hill and make your way south along the west side drive. You exit the park just past the 6 mile marker, and spill out on to 7th Avenue. The first six miles of this race are fairly quiet as far as fans are concerned. If you are running it, focus on getting past the hills. When you exit the park, the hardest work is already behind you.
As you spill out onto 7th Avenue and head toward Times Square, there are numerous races held for kids along the left hand side of the course. So runners can also cheer the young runners on as they begin the trek downtown.
Once you hit 42nd Street, you hang a right and head west, to the West Side Highway. After waving hello to the USS Intrepid, you are at the 8 mile marker. At this point, the course becomes flat and fast as you make your way toward the southernmost point of Manhattan. You pass Ground Zero and the Staten Island Ferry terminal, and then turn back north toward South Street Seaport. A couple of quick left turns brings you to the finish line.
Crowd support is solid along the course from miles 6 through 8. The course is very quiet until you close in on the finish.
There were 20,149 finishers in this year’s installment, with the winning men’s time of 1:01:35 by Stephen Sambu of Kenya. Think about that for a second: The winner averaged approximately 4:45 pace for 13.1 miles. I have one word for that: BEAST.
The story of the day was the women’s race – which was won my Mollie Huddle by…are you ready for this….eight one-hundredeths of a second…over the second place finisher, Joyce Cheplrul of Kenya. The winning time? 1:07:41. That’s somewhere between a 5:10 – 5:15 pace for the race.
It was cold – approximately 37 degrees at the start, with some decent wind along the course. The wind definitely chilled things off along the west side highway during the latter half of the race. So I recommend running in layers – this race falls at a time of year where the conditions are hard to predict.
All in all, it was a solid, fun race. Well run. I would recommend it to anyone!!!