We're New Yorkers, we're tough, Central Park is our home and we train on hills! Could we content ourselves with a race taking runners to legendary Cat Hill 3 times but to über-legendary Harlem Hill ONLY 2 times? Well, the 2020 redesigned course of the Fred Lebow Half Marathon has traded one Cat Hill for a third Harlem Hill. 75 Flyers were among the brave 5,040 runners who can pride themselves on overcoming 3 Harlem Hills, on top of all the other charming hills of Central Park. The least we can say is their medals are well earned! Not to mention that 4 Flyers (1 man and 3 women) won age-group awards! And a special mention among the finishers should be made of Nancy Battermann, whose beautiful rendering of the national anthem kicked off the event.
This half marathon is not a club points race, and it's no longer part of the Five Borough Series or the 4 Out of 6 Program (the Manhattan 10K is now part of it). But it still has special significance for our running community (hence this blog report). The run honors Fred Lebow, who co-founded the NYC Marathon as a 4-loop Central Park event in 1970. He was in fact one of the 55 finishers of that inaugural edition in Central Park. In case you missed it, 4 loops of Central Park means 4 Cat Hills and 4 Harlem Hills. Today's run included only about half of those hills, so it falls a bit short of a full re-enactment of the 1970 event. Still, the post-race ponchos and the medals the finishers were treated to are a testament to the intimate connection of today's race with the NYC Marathon, and reminded us that we've come a long way from that epic race of 1970.
The Flyers' team was led by Francesco Presutti (your blog race reporter), who finished in 1:28:44 (pace 6:47), came 2nd in his age group and scored an AGP of 80.81%. This finish broke the Hall of Fame record for the 60+ men on the half marathon distance that yours truly had set himself on May 21, 2022 in the Brooklyn Half. (NB: A link to the Hall of Fame page has just been created on the Flyers' home page under the new tab “Racing.” Check it out by clicking HERE!). Greg Flood came second for the team with 1:34:00 (pace 7:11), and missed his 2019 Brooklyn Half PR by a mere 4 seconds. Greg joined the Flyers last fall and today's run marked his second NYRR race for the team, after last year's NYC Marathon. Welcome, Greg! Codjo Ahouandjinou captured the team's third place with a time of 1:34:21 (pace 7:12). With today's race, only his fifth NYRR race, Codjo improved his 2022 Staten Island Half PR by a massive 5:25! Really impressive!
The women's team was led by Stephanie Tang, who finished in 1:39:38 (pace 7:36). Stephanie missed her 2019 Brooklyn Half PR by 12 seconds, but was pleasantly surprised about her race today, after she had sprained her ankle at mile 15 of the JFK 50 in late November.
"I had originally planned to use this race to qualify for NYC 2024," she told me after the race, "but knew that wouldn’t happen - I decided I’d just run by feel, and enjoy the race. Definitely happy I came close to my PR!" Stephanie celebrated the Lunar New Year🌛with her family all day yesterday, and enjoyed a celebratory lunch after the race in Lower Manhattan. "Running the race on the Lunar New Year does make it more special!" she told me. Stephanie is hoping this race is the start to a great year focused on the half marathon distance: "I’m coming after you, half distance!"
Kristel McKanna came second for the team with 1:42:44 (pace 7:51), and an AGP of 71%. Denise Iannizzotto came third with 1:44:00 (pace 7:56). Denise won a 2nd place award in her age group and hit an AGP of 80.43%! Hiromi Nobata (1:45:53, pace 8:05, 3rd AG, AGP 76.95%), and Mindy Statter (2:01:38, pace 9:17, 3rd AG, AGP 73.69%) also won age group awards.
Kudos also to the other runners who finished in the top 10 of their age group and/or scored an AGP above 70%: Jérôme Bérard (1:34:35, pace 7:13, 4th AG, AGP 75.8%, and a 13-second PR!), Yumi Morishige (1:45:53, pace 8:17, 5th AG, AGP 72.32%), Guy Simoneau (1:56:34, pace 8:54, 9th AG), Deb Saat (2:02:17, pace 9:20, AGP 72:26%) and Stephen Moore (2:05:26, pace 9:35, 6th AG).
If you set a PR in today's tough course and we haven't spotted it, please let us know so we can celebrate with you. Congrats to Melida Barbosa, who crossed the finish line in 1:46:54 (pace 8:10), and set a huge 3:04 PR! 🎉
The team’s full results can be found here: https://results.nyrr.org/event/23FLHALF/teams/NYF.
Congrats to all runners!
And huge thanks to all the Flyers who challenged the morning's chill to cheer on runners (several joined the "cheer squad" on Cat Hill, while many others showed up along the course) and to Richard Brounstein, who masterfully documented the event with fantastic race photos! 📷 You can click HERE to view them
-Francesco P, NY Flyers Blog Race Reporter, #NYRRstaff