Party Like A Runner

by Shamala Kandiah Thompson

Earlier in the week I attended my seventh New York Road Runners (NYRR) Club Night.  I don’t belong to a running club nor do I race.  But I have good reason to go. For the last five years, ever since he turned 40, I’ve been able to cheer as Paul won his age group award. I love watching him be recognized for his talent and hard work.  And I know he’s chuffed to be acknowledged by the New York running community. As a friend said of my photo below of Paul receiving his sixth consecutive award, “he looks like a kid in a candy store!”

Paul with Peter Ciaccia, NYRR Vice-President and Mary Wittenberg, NYRR President.

For the last three years the event has been held at the Hard Rock Cafe. Not quite as fancy as the Hilton Hotel ball room, the former venue.  And it’s finger food and two free drinks’ coupons rather than a three course sit down meal and free flow of booze. But the running community knows how to enjoy itself, especially once the dance floor clears and the music begins. Suddenly the floor is packed with widly gyrating runners, dancing being a new form of cross training on an otherwise low mileage day.

New York's finest runners burning up some calories on the dance floor.

It’s an evening where runners get to celebrate running and each others achievements while dressed to the nines.  At my first Club Night I realized that the correct attire, for women at least, is a little tight black number with high heels. The shorter the skirt the better – to show off toned thighs and curvaceous  calves. Fortunately most of the women can carry it off. Particularly inspiring are the older ones, like Kathryn Martin, who are great ads for the benefits of regular exercise. Not a fallen bum or saggy upper arm in sight.

It’s also a time for teams to come together for a social evening. Our team captain, Mike Guastella, arrived early enough to ‘claim’ a team table, with a birds-eye view of the stage, using a bogus ‘reserved’ sign. The Warren Street team table was a nice mix of veterans and younger runners. Besides Paul, two young promising team mates went home with  “Freddie” awards (named in honor of Fred Lebow, former NYRR president and co-founder of the New York City Marathon). Sebastien B. won the 30-34 age group award and Lauren Salisbury took the top award in the 20-24 category. Warren Street bagged third place in the masters team category after being top team for the last three years. Paul is determined they will wrest it back from Urban Athletics starting tomorrow at the the first club race of the 2012 season, the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K. All in all a great night for those of us living the running life.

Paul, Lauren and Sebastien with their "Freddie" awards.

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